I went to an ECCW show last night, and it was a ton of fun. Being only the second indie show I've been to, I didn't really know what to expect. I'll try to distill the experience for ya.
The crowd was really into it. Most of the people had been to prior shows, were familiar with the characters, and would boo the heels and cheer the babyfaces. The performers obviously got a lot of satisfaction from the feedback, and they'd work everyone up as much as they could. The babyfaces would run around high-fiving everyone and soliciting claps and cheers, and the heels would yell in people's faces, flip people off, etc. A guy in front of me almost fell out of his seat when a heel walked by, held out his hand for a high-five, then moved it before the guy in front of me could connect. Some eleven year old girl was screaming her lungs out at all the bad guys, telling them that they sucked, yelling over their promos, which in that low-ceilinged venue demanded attention. They all had a field day talking all kinds of shit to that girl, giving her the finger, threatening to get out of the ring, etc. It was hilarious, and probably made everyone's night, especially hers. There was another point where there was a raffle, and the winner, some teenage guy, was roundly booed, which he responded to by yelling that he was the champion of the world and running around the ring with his arms in the air. A natural. There were all kinds of people there, young and old, hot chicks and fat juggalo guys, in groups and alone (me). There were three generations of family that were there together, little five year olds that would just giggle when a heel screamed in their face, and old men that would want to shake the winner of every match's hand. So I guess that's what I came away with it the most- that the atmosphere was very positive and supportive and fun. This is in contrast to the indie show we went to near the airport, which people seemed to just show up for to give them an excuse to call someone a fag at the top of their lungs.
Going into the event, I was most curious about what kind of wrestling style(s) I'd be seeing. Different indie promotions can have reputations for featuring some specific styles. At least the high-flying and "hardcore" promotions seem to want to project their image as having those particular styles. I doubt I would have gone if ECCW promoted themselves like that, and I might have left if it was that kind of show. That wasn't the case, though. All of the wrestlers used the kind of moves we see on TV, and most of them were fairly polished. Some were a little greener than others and had less variety, and others had a lot of tricks up their sleeves. Or shorts, I guess. Seeing a tombstone up close was fucking badass. There was one match that stood out in which the guys probably had some amateur wrestling experience, because they really knew how to grapple, and integrate pro wrestling moves into it, and that stood out to me as possibly the best match, although it didn't draw much out of the crowd. Another thing about the wrestling, which added a lot to the experience as well, is the way things worked when guys would go out of the ring during matches. The seats were lined up around the ring in two rows, and the front row was probably only 4-5 feet from the ring. When a guy is thrown out of the ring, he'll hang out in that narrow aisle for a second while ECCW staff runs over and tells people to get the fuck out of the way, "he's coming over!" The front row scatters, the back row scoots back, and WHAM! There are two sweaty guys laying where your feet were two seconds ago.
I thought ECCW did a really good job of establishing characters, and most of the performers did a great job of playing their roles to the hilt. That's hard to describe without just repeating all the things they said and did, so you should just take my word for it. Even the referees had presence. The one who called the most matches was a redheaded guy with a lisp and Chaplin-esque pants that made him walk a little funny, but not cartoonish. For some reason that kept making me laugh.
It was $15 general admission, $18 front row. There were about 80 people there. I'll definitely go again when they come back to town in September. I don't think it's always that long between Vancouver shows. There are a few venues they rotate around, all in BC, and they'll go to Washington and other parts of Western Canada once in a while. They're not televised, but they do film their shows with two handheld camcorders and one hard camera, and I wouldn't be surprised if their finished product looks pretty good. They sell tapes of the shows. They have a lot of merch also, both for ECCW and for the individual characters. I thought it was a pretty slick production considering they must operate of a very tight budget. It must depend on some very dedicated people to make the thing work and come together like that, and I think the fans must realize that, which contributes a lot to the good vibes and communal atmosphere.
All the pictures are from their Facebook page.