In a recent episode of Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, Dean Ambrose called out the United States independent pro wrestling scene for a couple of things. Each of which was both right, justified, and long overdue. Before he was Dean Ambrose in the WWE he was Jon Moxley on the Indy scene. Jon Moxley was the best thing going on the Indy scene for a solid year, if not two. He was a regular in DGUSA, Evolve, and was champion in CZW amongst many, many others. If there is anyone this side of 2010 who is qualified to talk about the US Indy scene this side of 2009 it is Jon Moxley/Dean Ambrose. Ambrose raised the following issues/points;
- The Indy scene has too many mark promoters and too many mark wrestlers/talents.
- The fans and wrestlers of the Indy scene are too egotistical about the information about the wrestling business they read on the internet and therefore feel authoritative about.
- The Indy scene has too many championships/title belts.
- The Indy scene is full of wrestlers who are too stiff
- The Indy scene is full of wrestlers who don’t sell the impact of the strikes and maneuvers they perform on each other therefore making what they do look more fake and unrealistic than the business of pro wrestling is by nature.
Ambrose is spot on in each point he raised. He is not just another worker, he was a highly successful Indy scene performer who based on his excellence received a contract from the WWE in less than half a decade of his debut. That time frame is the exception, not the rule. Dean Ambrose is an exceptional talent and an authority on the US Indy scene. Here is why I think he was right in each point that he raised at the Cabana Compound.
- Promoters and wrestlers are marks by nature. If they weren’t marks, they wouldn’t be in the business. The problem is when the inmates run the asylum, chaos ensues. A state of chaos is an apt and accurate way to describe any and every Indy promotion that isn’t called ROH, PWG, or AAW. Wrestlers are supposed to be marks for themselves at least a little bit. Ego and creative success are intertwined. But the promoters need to be a check and balance, not an enabler. The fact that everyone wants to run their own ship shows that the promoters are bigger marks than businessmen. There should be no more than ten Indy wrestling promotions in the US. Three on each coast and six throughout the Midwest, South, and Great Plains.
- If you think the fans of the Indy scene aren’t too smart marky for their own good, then you haven’t been to an Indy show in the US in at least eight years.
- If you don’t think the Indy scene has too many title belts, then you haven’t been to an Indy show in the US in at least ten years.
- The wrestlers being too stiff means they are either too big of marks for their own good or are not properly trained or both and these days on the Indy scene it is usually both.
- If you don’t think the Indy scene has a problem with a lack of selling, lack of believability, lack of pacing, and lack of logic in the matches; you haven’t been to a US Indy show in the last six years. Davey Richards got scapegoated for this but he was merely a product of his environment. I could list all the culprits, but then this would be a long form piece. I understand why this has become so pervasive. To tell you the truth, I prefer matches like this to the 80s style rest hold fest that legends and fresh out of academy newbies have on the Indy scene. The problem is that it has run its course and like hardcore wrestling before it, should now be saved for storyline/feud climax matches.
Indy wrestlers would do themselves individually and the business as a whole a favor by dedicating themselves to forming their creative characters and physical bodies to be larger than life as opposed to how many super kicks and clotheslines they can fit into the last five minutes of a match. And for those who don’t care about character development or joining a gym, they should really focus on making their matches as close to a mixed martial arts contest as possible without stiffing the hell out of each other. It’s 2013, not 1987 or 1999. Be either larger than life or relevant to the current cultural landscape not a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of an archetype from the 1960s.
Dean Ambrose is an exceptional talent but what got him into the WWE is not once in a generational, freak talent/ability. If you watch his non death matches from the Indy scene, he is having logical, believable matches. Strikes, submissions, and maneuvers are all in balance. His promos are unique to his character, a character that is unique to him. Ambrose/Moxley is a prototype for anyone out there who wants to be a wrestler in this day and age. He really is. If you are stupid enough to think you shouldn’t be studying old school wrestlers and matches, study him. He has “it”. He certainly is my favorite wrestler of this new generation that is coming up in WWE and the Indy scene this side of 2010.
Every wrestler currently on the Indy scene with no immediate hope of being signed by WWE, which is the vast majority, would be wise to heed his words and study his success.