Last Wednesday a huge development came in my life as a professional wrestling fan that is sure to be a true gift to the progress of my thesis. I went to Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY to see AEW’s Grand Slam show. Now, aside from this being the biggest non-PPV event on AEW’s calendar year, it really shouldn’t seem like anything too special. I went to last year’s event, and it was probably a better show than this year’s, but show quality is not the point of focus here. Last year I was very much in the nosebleeds for Grand Slam, and this year I had floor seats. REALLY good floor seats.
I dreamt of attending a big wrestling show and sitting floor-level since I was at the big-boy age of seven, 17 years of my pretty young-ish life. A huge chunk. And this was not like seeing the old retired wrestlers of yesteryear relive their glory days at the Elk’s Lodge in Union, NJ close (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Rather, I was watching one of the most talented and notable rosters in the world, in their prime, peak legendary status, or come-up all showcase super proficient professional wrestling. Arthur Ashe holds 20,000+ seats, and to look at such a venue from a central floor level… It gave me chills. It felt almost spiritual.
AEW has had a good chunk of inner-turmoil and controversy lately, of which involves a backstage brawl, suspension, and ongoing investigation between who are arguably their four most seminal professional wrestlers (CM Punk, Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson). What is going on now is frustrating for fans and the entire promotion, and a big of a red flag for the foreseeable future. It is also something that will likely be strongly bookmarked in the annals of professional wrestling history. I really hope that it wraps up before I start REALLY laying pen to paper for my thesis, because I think that it could very well be a key component to be presented in relation to the WHOLE thing.
Anyway, what truly made this event special is how it reminded us fans that what really counts is that AEW still serves as the fighting spirit alternative to the more “Disney on Ice ” presentation of professional wrestling that has dominated North America for the past 30-plus years. AEW is only a three-year old promotion, but if the show that I attended last week shows anything, it is that the company will still continue to emit professional wrestling love and craft through its most notable struggles for its fans that have a very legitimate love for the art form sport.
But wow, being that close to names such as Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, and Bryan Danielson, and Sting was phenomenal. I have been watching these individuals since before I ever knew what boxers were, and it just shone a light on me just how physical this sport is. I can get super specific about that, but I think that this blog post is running its course a bit, and that could get super tedious for the rest of you. Wow though, it really sparked a whole new complementary yet mirrored view into my appreciation and internal understanding for professional wrestling, almost to the point where it feels like a new pair of shoes. There is so much more to bite into than I previously thought about, and it mainly comes from the act of watching the thing.
I have an entire iceberg to pick apart here.
Also, I got to see THE GREAT MUTA in-person!!! So significant.