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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Keeping The Dream Alive

One of the things I love the most about writing for Pro Wrestling Illustrated is talking to men and women who truly love their work. Almost every time I chat with an up-and-coming indy star, I hear those wonderful words, “I am living my dream.” It’s a great sentiment, indeed … Especially in troubled economic times like these in which a lot of folks have to scrape and struggle in some rough conditions just to make ends meet.

Along these lines, most of us writer-types have our own “day jobs” in which we punch a clock for eight hours (or more) every day so we can meet our obligations and—hopefully—live comfortably. The end of the day is when we really get busy, though, because that’s when we get to watch, discuss and write about professional wrestling. Most of us love wrestling so much that we write about it wherever and whenever we get the chance. We have blogs, forums, podcasts and all kinds of other stuff going on. But writing for PWI is really and truly the brass ring for many of us.

PWI has earned a really special place in the wrestling industry because the magazine is absolutely enmeshed with the very history of the business. For some good evidence of this, look no further than WWE’s outstanding new DVD set The Greatest Cage Matches Of All Time. In the commentary for the August 9, 1980, match between Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko, talking encyclopedia of wrestling Matt Stryker touches upon the importance of PWI back in the days when printed media was the most important link between wrestlers and their fans. Josh Matthews, who joins Stryker in play-by-play for the match, acknopwledges this, adding that the Sammartino/Zbyszko was voted Match of the Year by readers of PWI, and that Zbyszko himself earned the dubious distinction of Most Hated wrestler, according to PWI faithful. Indeed, PWI was a lifeline for wrestling fans far and wide as well as an outlet for fan enthusiasm and critique.

In her recent appearance on Colt Cabana’s The Art Of Wrestling podcast, WWE’s Beth Phoenix further articulates the unique connection PWI has enjoyed with wrestling enthusiasts of all ages and origins. Beth recalls that her grandmother, who was of Polish descent, was a passionately dedicated fan of professional wrestling who kept issues of PWI on her living room coffee table, right next to her Polish language magazines.

The very first interview I did for the PWI family of magazines was a story on indy star Ray Alexander. I distinctly remember Ray telling me just how important it was that he’d finally landed in a magzine in the PWI family, as he said, “In the locker room, most of us complain about PWI and all that … But when PWI comes calling, we know it’s a big deal.” I thought about that for a minute and, having written about wrestling here and there on the ’net myself (and doing my own share of ribbing the folks at PWI in the process),  I replied, “Yeah, it’s kind of like that for writers, too.” And that’s the absolute truth of it all. At the end of the day, we really love what we do when we knock out a short blurb, a column, or a feature piece for PWI because we know we’re part of something that’s been so important to readers and wrestlers alike for a very long time. Just like the subjects of our stories, I think it’s safe to say that we’re living our dream, too.

Mike Bessler

PWI Contributing Writer


L.A. said...

If I was making this list, i would try to do it later in the year. Miz cannot win without alex riley. since riley divorced miz, he hasn't done anything while C.M. punk has owned john cena and become the biggest name in wrestling since bret Hart and Steve austin in their prime (1997). punk has saved wrestling while the miz has draged it down.

Walter Yeates said...

Punk hasn't saved anything this year. Wrestling was in no danger of "dying."

My biggest issue with the PWI Top 500 is in fact that it is kayfabe and gives so much rub to WWE and TNA wrestlers who may not deserve. All the fans that called for CM Punk simply just watch the WWE.

While I think the list has major merit if Tanahashi isn't number one for 2012 then I think it only caters to American wrestling. I would like the list to accompany a reason for why each of the top 100 selected for the position they were in.

As it ignores the NWA for the most part and I don't feel is the best representation for who is doing what where.