I’ve always loved this idea.
I remember when I stumbled upon this thing while perusing the Wrestling Boards at IGN. Two of my favorite things, writing and wrasslin’, combined. It was a fun idea, and it seemed fun to get involved in. And how it all started! “I don’t know if anyone’s tried this yet…” Classic. How could it go wrong.
For months I spent endless hours involved in what was essentially one of the funnest writing contests of all time. Sick ideas, rib shattering humor, and almost poetic descriptions came out of 12 to 17 year old kids, and even college aged geeks like myself. Even when it was bad, it was good.
And not only did we have a contest, but we had a community. Everyone was accessible via AIM, and IRC chat just made it better. We could talk about anything: our own choices in the fed, real wrestling, real life issues as those who were younger asked those who were older for advice on girls, college, girls, writing, girls, family issues, and of course girls… and BOYS! We gave feedback, rooted for each other, provided words of encouragement. And above all, we had fun. Lots of it.
Not everything was rosy, though. Sometimes people do stupid things. They don’t compete at the level they should. They get decision making power, and think that means leave to be, for lack of better terms, a bastard. People disagree and argue, and the barbs traded back and forth often sting. Message boards, which have for YEARS been free for the public to use, begin to succumb to the evils of profit margin and bottom line, forcing our experiment to move. But through it all, the fed continued on. Changed our name, changed our location, even changed the talent, but the idea was still sound and the competition remained. And for awhile, so did the community…
A little background: I was a 3rd Generation fedder. The first generation were those who started it off. The second was those who began when the fed got so big it needed a feeder league. I consider those of us in the 3rd generation to be us who were around when the feeder league had to be split up into the JL and ML (JL pride FO-EVAH). We had so many people, it was hard to tell who was what. And that helped us get better. Some of your best came from that time... but I digress...
The decline of the SWF is likened to the downfall of professional wrestling. It just isn’t as popular as it once was. Perhaps the “realism” of MMA has contributed to that. Maybe there’s only so much of the canned promo/ repetitive match spot experience a fanbase can take. Maybe the new boards didn’t get as many visitors, and certainly not as many with the talent and time to write fake wrestling. Maybe it was a Smarkier crowd, they just couldn’t get into it. Maybe we couldn’t get into ourselves as much as we used to.
And maybe, just maybe, we all grew up a little bit, out of the fantasy where good guys wore tights and couldn’t lose unless the bad guy cheated, and into the real world: where bad guys wear suits and eventually we all have to come up with the money to deal with them.
The one thing no one can take from us, each and every one of us wordsmith warriors who braved the squared circle of Microsoft Word and Notepad day after day: the memories. Years worth of memories. Of alter egos, giant egos, shattered egos. Of losing when you thought you could only win, and winning when you thought you could only lose. Of seeing something you created published, analyzed, and immortalized in our imaginations and on the vast pages of the immortal internet. And of how a kid, however socially awkward, misanthropic, or misunderstood, could become a member, a winner, a champion.
So here are my memories. Some are vague, perhaps embellished in the sands of time. It really HAS been ten years since I first joined up in this little e-fed. Some of you may have differing recollections, some may have none. But this should unite us all in remembering what was:
Edwin MacPhisto: My favorite e-wrestler, in my opinion the greatest of all time. I never beat him, but as a writer, he was unequalled. Quirky as the character was, good as he was, the fact that he was a more than decent human being IRL taught me a few things.
Chris Wilson blowing up the FAO Schwartz building: absurd and immortal.
Seeing the WWE rip off CYCLOOOOONE COMET!!!: never went on to do the great things expected of him, and people who never heard directly from him knew his name and his legend. When the professionals come up with an idea after some random people on the internet… you know genius is at hand.
Kris and Kross beating Janus with a tickle: was my idea (I was Kross).
The Vanguard Mall Brawl: again, my idea (I was Vanguard), and to go down in history, even for a JL match, is pretty cool.
The H-Ville Thugg: he was my best friend. I introduced him to the federation, half expecting him to make fun of me. He not only came on board, he thrived, and became one of the best ever, undisputed.
The HORRIBLE experiment known as eXodus the Son: if only for the many CLANNNGGGG jokes that followed.
The Kliq flame war: at the time, it was anger inducing, but in the end we all saw our own ignorance, how selfish and silly we ALL can be, and I think it gave us more respect for each other in the process.
The Poker Room Promos: wow.
TBS coming out of the closet: in my opinion this was perhaps the single moment, showing what this fed could be. This was more than just wrestling, a fake match for a fake belt. This was community at its purest. Whatever your politics, this is a memory that made me proud to be a part of this fed. All of the writing, losing, frustrations that went into it was worth it for this moment.
I’ve been looking back for the past few days, just perusing. And in doing so, I’ve found myself saying “how did I come up with that?” And even asking that of others. The answer is simple: the IGN/SWF pushed us, all of us, to become better writers, to aspire to greater things. To win, but also to share in the knowledge that we have helped each other, that we were our own biggest fans. For that, we all owe Jayson G, Rane, Spike, Divefire, Neilsen OTMF Jungle, Comet, GS Mark Stevens, Suicide King, MacPhisto, HVT, Magnifico, Wilson, Sacred, Flesher, Toxxic, and the tons of others remembered or not, new or old, a thank you.
And who knows. Perhaps wrestling will once again become as popular as it was. Perhaps the Smarks boards will gain in number. Perhaps we’ll lurk around until someone enters those forums, takes a gander, and asks “Is anyone from this still around?”
Perhaps the glory that began with “scoop slam,” will be reborn like a Phoenix Uprising, Regenerating (X) from the Ashes.
Until then: this is Phoenix Nightingale, a.k.a. Xstasy, and if you bothered to stroll down memory lane and read this, I wish you all the joy…