Wrestling is an art form. It’s theater. It’s a stage for stories of friendship, betrayal, hope, dedication and fulfillment of dreams. The backstage promos, the interviews, the character development; they all draw you into a world where people are literally putting their bodies on the line to achieve a dream of earning a belt.
There are characters to love. Characters you love to hate. Managers and valets who make their partner better, either with love and support or by being a sneaky ally to help the bad guy cheat their way to the top.
Wrestling is amazing. I could talk about it for hours, days even. Editor Charlie Deitch and I both find so much joy and entertainment in the world of wrestling, that we just couldn’t carry on unless we started to blog about it. And that’s where the idea for Smark Attack comes from.
A "smark" is a wrestling fan who is aware that the medium is a scripted, pre-determined show, but nonetheless enjoys watching and talking about wrestling. Charlie and I are definitely smarks. We like to think of ourselves as uncrowned tag-team champions, and we know there are plenty of reasons to enjoy wrestling in all its theatrical glory! Covering wrestling is nothing new for this paper. Our sports feature this week, for instance, is about the retirement match of Bill Eadie, aka Demolition AX of the 1980s WWF tag team, Demolition.
Wendy Richter on the April 1986 cover of Pro Wrestling Illustrated
My love for wrestling was sparked in college, so I had to go back and learn by watching older material. The first time I could sense I was hooked was watching the first Buried Alive match between The Undertaker and Mankind. After a whole locker room of wrestlers teamed up on Undertaker to bury him, lightning struck, and his hand burst out of the grave. An undead wizard man who's here to kick ass? I’m in!
I truly found my love for wrestling when I watched Cyndi Lauper celebrating Wendi Richter’s victories, bouncing around the ring so joyfully as her manager. It was fun, exciting and so colorful. This obviously led to me finding other promotions, like the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Their glitter, campy skits and raps were entertaining, but it was even more amazing to see women at front and center of a wrestling show. It may not have been the fanciest, flashiest or even safest wrestling, but it was exciting.
Now we enter a time where, slowly but surely, big companies like WWE are starting to give women an opportunity to shine. Independent wrestling is overflowing with amazing female talent, and inter-gender wrestling is on the map.
Candice LeRae is the pinnacle of everything I love about wrestling. Her signature ballsplex is a sight to behold. Her Guerrilla Warfare match with tag team partner Joey Ryan against the Young Bucks is one of my all-time favorite matches.
These are just a few of the things I love about professional wrestling. I’m only scratching the surface of all of the topics to discuss, story lines to debate and shows to go see.
Charlie’s relationship with wrestling started in the 1970s watching Bruno Sammartino on TV with his wrestling-obsessed father. He credits Hulk Hogan’s iconic Jan. 23, 1984 WWF Championship win over the Iron Sheik for turning him into a smark. He was 13 and a full participant in the Kayfabe universe until he began to question why a big blonde jerk with no wrestling ability or history with the company got a title shot before proven company stars like Rocky Johnson, Jimmy Snuka, Tito Santana or Don Muraco. That’s when it hithim: “this shit was rigged.” But he also realized that it didn’t matter and he’s been a fan for life.
There’s a lot to talk about, and our coworkers are sick of Charlie and I doing so at the office.* So we’ll use Smark Attack as our outlet to talk about local wrestling in Western Pennsylvania, and to chat with wrestling stars from New Japan Pro Wrestling to Progress to Shimmer to Lucha Underground to WWE. We also want to use this blog to highlight the writers and data collectors who devote their energy to wrestling, as well as trainers and industry lifers.
Smark Attack also serves as a place for us to critique problematic aspects of wrestling like troubling storylines that rely on stereotypes, as well as some wrestling promotions’ problems with misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc. If you truly love something, you love it enough to celebrate its victories and acknowledge its failings. By doing so, we encourage the wrestling world to be and do better.
Wrestling is worth it.
*We’re probably still going to talk about wrestling. Maybe more, honestly.