Last Friday it was announced that AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) would be shutting down after 20 years. Like most people I haven’t signed on to AIM in years, but the news made me think back to the late 1990s and early 2000s in the Southern California wrestling scene, and the impact AIM had on it. Not only was it a huge part of the early years of SCU but also the creation of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
When we first had the idea for SoCalUncensored.com the basic idea was that we would be running a chat room related to wrestling in Southern California. The plan was to have scheduled chats with promoters and wrestlers and just be a place for people to come and discuss the scene. While we were planning the site things changed and we decided to add editorials and reviews as well, but the site was still going to be built around a chat room. There was another site covering SoCal wrestling at the time, and we were content to leave the news and message board to them. Then one day there was outrage on their message board over UPW not allowing their wrestlers to work for MPW, and one of the admins at the site named SoCal JRock (who is now wrestling in the WWE as Samoa Joe) wiped the entire message board to remove all of the negative feedback UPW was getting (this was denied at the time but he later confirmed it to me). That act changed out immediate plans and we quickly added a message board and news coverage. The chat room remained.
Originally the chat room was IRC based but eventually everything moved to AIM. Almost nightly there would be chats loosely discussing Southern California wrestling, though the usually would venture way off topic. Wrestlers, promoters, and fans would all interact and sometimes things would get heated. I remember one occasion that SoCal Tom Walters, who was known as one of the most vicious trash talkers on the message board, and CM Punk got into it over which one of them were more straight edge, leading to a huge profanity filled CM Punk meltdown. Often these chats would last well into the night.
Sometimes the chats on AIM would have a more lasting impact, such as Super Dragon discussing his idea to promote a tournament and bring in some of the best wrestlers from around the country to be put against some of the best locals. He was able to get five other wrestlers on board and the tournament quickly morphed into a promotion, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Most the planning for the promotion happened on AIM.
Over time with the creation of social media people started leaving AIM and heading to things like MySpace and Facebook and chat rooms disappeared. There were other ways of communicating with your favorite wrestler or telling your favorite promotion your thoughts.
While AIM may be going away, chat rooms recently have seemed to make a bit of resurgence. The same night it was announced that AIM was shutting down, the most recent Sabotage show was being streamed on Twitch. In the chat room was the promoter Brian Cervantes, and wrestlers such as Thunder Rosa and Human Tornado interacting with fans. While I was watching this play out I couldn’t help but think back to 2003. If only we could get Tom Walters and CM Punk together again.
Championship Wrestling from Hollywood aired their first episode this weekend that is part of their new deal with CW Plus. The deal gives them clearance on 110 additional stations and now has them available in 30% of the television households in the country (100% with the Fite TV app).
I watched it and thought it was a really good episode for introducing the product to first time viewers. With one exception any negatives were mostly minor, and I thought all three matches were pretty good, with Ryan Taylor really putting in a great performance in the main event with Alberto el Patron.
I personally didn’t care about the NWA segment, as I don’t even see the point in the NWA in 2017, but the whole deal with the NWA seems to have gotten them extra publicity for the show, and anything that brings in extra eyes can only be seen as a good thing.
The one real negative with the show to me was the continued use of fake crowd noise. I don’t know who there thinks this is a good idea or thinks it comes off as anything but bad. Sure no one wants the matches to air with silence, but silence is better than this. The noise sounds fake and sounds nothing like a wrestling crowd. When the crowd is shown on the hard cam it is obvious they aren’t making the noise. What’s worse is at times when the crowd is generally into the match the fake crowd noise is drowning out the real crowd as it is piped through the speakers while the matches are being taped. I think it really distracts from the match and the show would benefit greatly from dropping it.
Other than that, hopefully the increased distribution leads to increased viewership for the program. Though it’s only one episode I think the program is off to a good start (but seriously drop the fake crowd noise).
I didn’t want to do a full review of the show since it was a charity event, but the Iron Will Challenge with Dicky Mayer and Ryan Kidd last Friday was really good. I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to put together a match of that length and keep it interesting throughout, but they pulled it off. They managed to tell an interesting story with the match, with Ryan Kidd as the cheating heel and Dicky Mayer as the babyface. Mayer looked great in his return from Japan and you can really notice some increased crispness in his moves. They never really stopped and there wasn’t even really rest spots built into the match. I also have to give them a lot of credit for even trying something like this. Hopefully it becomes an annual event.
Check out the latest SCU Focus on FCW’s We Aint Done.
Glad to have Mayer back in SoCal, can’t wait for his EWF return on Friday!