Joe Babinsack talks holiday gift ideas in wrestling

I’ve tried to make a tradition of Holiday suggestion around this time of year, usually getting to it late, more often writing too much about too many things, as I realize that I’m forgetting people, overlooking promotions, rehashing the year in reviews.
So I’m going to effort to do ten items, covering more items, and also suggest things for the mainstream fans from the indie fan perspective.
In no particular order:
1)     Paul O’Brien’s Blood Red Turns Dollar Green is a book I wasn’t overwhelmed with, but Mick Foley touted it, and it may very well be more for a mainstream fan than this indie fan with historical perspectives.
It’s a fast moving 267 page book that hits virtually every aspect of modern day wrestling.
            Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, by Paul O’Brien, found at for $10.40
2)    As a huge comic book fan/collector long since having passed by the Comic Book Industry mainstream, ironically at a time when comic book fans are all over the ‘mainstream’, I do maintain some connections with the indie scene.
JT Yost is one of my favorite indie artist/writers. His stuff (including comics, pet illustrations and the like) can be found at I highly recommend the “Digestate” Anthology, and I’m very much looking forward to getting a pet portrait.
Before anyone screams ‘this isn’t wrestling related’, JT sent me a link to an awesome print that is pro wrestling related, with comic book sketches of the “Official Ratings of 1983”, including all the expected, big names (and including headbands, coal miner’s gloves, belts and robes, where applicable).
This print, my friends, has “Wow!” written all over it. (Figuratively, that is).
3)    Kickstarter has been all over the wrestling world news, and I’ve had enough suggestions (I hear you, my peeps!) about fundraising for my own project(s)…..
 Can I suggest a way to tie in pro wrestling fans to Kickstarter?
Sure – just pledge $ to a worthy cause and enjoy the benefits (usually merchandise, signed stuff, etc.) of items that cannot be readily found, and get a head start on the collectability market for as-yet-unpublished projects.
Seems like a great way to help out creative types and get some collectability mileage (and/or regift as prices rise or fall). I say that sarcastically for the humor impaired.
4)    Speaking of collectability, there’s always something to be found on eBay, so using my WWE/TNA logic, I won’t do free advertising for mega corporations.
But Grant Zwarych (the official Indexer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter) is someone I owe some plugs for, so I’ll pitch his stuff:
            Grant has Wrestling Observers, Wrestling Memorabilia, UFC/MMA, Beer Clothes, Pins & more    ebay auctions. His “seller’s name” is grantsindex. Perfect timing because he puts up new stuff  around the first of the month.
            Click the below link, and search from there, for current items:
5)    I’ve come dangerously close to requesting review product from Filsinger Games, since they have several professional wrestling related brands for their card game – Legends of Wrestling, ROH, CHIKARA.
            The problem is, my card game industry history makes me an even more snarky, miserable, sarcastic and brutally honest reviewer, and I know how that goes.
             But two of my most favorite promotions have brands with Filisinger, so it can’t be all wrong.
             I just would rather not get back into that genre until I publish my own games. (Or edit ones, like Fantasy Flight Games’s Rock Band Manager). Which was translated from the French, but I only edited the English.
6)    The big Indies. Yeah, everyone knows who’s who, and I mean no slight to anyone, nor am I purposefully overlooking the Mexican and Japanese promotions. Because I am, but I mentioned that they exist.
            In no particular order, check out
            CHIKARA is the most entertaining of all professional wrestling promotions. It is very much family   friendly, historically respectful and cutting edge in terms of wrestlers who live their characters in the ring, as this traditionalist would want. The talent shines, the storylines are seamless and the CHIKARA-verse is one dimension that should be visited often, to renew one’s faith in wrestling.
            ROH remains the largest, most promising, most established professional wrestling promotion that would be called an indie. It has a history of creating new stars, and with Tyler Black on the WWE scene (finally) it can likely be argued that more former ROH Champions are in main event or drawing positions than any other promotion today. ROH seems to be regrouping in a positive way, and the retrospective DVD compilations are a great way to see top mainstream names before they became famous.
            Dragon Gate       
            Anything Gabe Sapolsky does is notable, from DG USA to EVOLVE to SHINE, but Dragon Gate’s   American branch of professional wrestling is light years ahead of all other promotions, mainstream or not. DG USA has actual styles, not just wrestlers wrestling the house style. Dragon Gate also moves in (and out) the Japanese veterans, and Johnny Gargano is a worthy Champion, Chucky Taylor is a blue chip prospect, and this is one promotion that moves legends in and out ‘the right way’. You won’t disappoint any wrestling fan by buying ANY DG USA DVD.
7)    The other Indies. I would always appeal to fans to support their local promotions. Sure, there’s a mixed bag, potential for some zaniness and a lot of other complications, but wrestling will only exist if there are viable small promotions giving opportunities to guys and gals with talent.
            If there are no truly local promotions, go to places like Smart Mark Video.
             I’m not a fan of Smart Mark’s review copy policy, but many promotions provide me with product through them, so I’m tip-toeing around my own policy of not pushing stuff I don’t get for review   purposes. Most notably the Ultramantis Black Strangeways DVD, which is awesome, and not just because UMB is awesome, but a well-produced product.
8)    iPPV. Yeah, another gift-impaired suggestion, but I’m sure places do allow for gifting?
Internet Pay Per View is a controversial, smaller than it should be, but potentially lucrative avenue for the indies to compete. The World Wrestling Network is one place that provides opportunities to watch DVDs (including Kayfabe Commentaries!) and get wrestling fans used to the concept.
9)    ECW Press. Entertainment, Culture, Wrestling. You can’t go wrong with ECW Press, even though I’ve had my polite disagreements with them on various levels. But then again, who and what exists that I didn’t have some sort of heat?
    (A shout out to Simon Ware!) Oh, yeah….. my mistake.
          I find the wrestling perspective maddening at times, and the books uneven at times, but ECW remains the place that publishes professional wrestling books and bios, and MMA stuff too.
            Check out their latest at:
10)  Chael Sonnen for $16.47! I figure Chael’s in one mixed-up mental state with his big opportunity with Jon Jones coming up, and his political leanings/career being miserable at the moment, but check out his book if you have that ‘right’ sort of mindset. Just warning you.

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