Joe Babinsack wrestling fans gift guide for 2011

2011 Annual Holiday Wrestling Gift Guide
Black Friday seems to be the best time to appeal to pro wrestling fans to look beyond the mainstream, and look for ways to help out the indy wrestling promotions. My attempt here is to provide some links and some deals and some current events for fans, or friends/family of wrestling fans.
Those of you who only look to the WWE and TNA for anything pro wrestling, feel free to shop those sites, which aren’t hard to find.
But the essence of hardcore fans is watching, learning and appreciating those products that aren’t mainstream. Everyone knows who John Cena is. To be blissfully ignorant of what Sin Cara looks like is the hallmark of the hardcore fan, someone more interested in pitching the merits of products held in front of hundreds of fans, at smaller venues.
Quite frankly, I’ve always found that the indy promotions give more of an effort, are more in tune with wrestling’s legacy, and are more concerned with wrestling’s future.
So my appeal in this column is to divert some money and attention to the organizations that could really use a boost during the holiday season. I’m not going to suggest ignoring the WWE 12 Video game, but if you’re buying that for The Rock or Brock Lesnar, chances are the WWE roster is going to be just as unknown to you as CHIKARA or Absolute Intense Wrestling or AAW or Dragon Gate.
So why not purchase a DVD or two of wrestling that is not going to insult your intelligence?
Ok, enough of the sales pitch…. Let’s get to some details:
One of the most indy-friendly sites is Smart Mark Video, which peddles several dozen different indy promotions, of all shapes, sizes and styles. Check out their site:
Their Holiday Sale is 10% of orders of $150. But Smart Mark Video also provides sampler opportunities at very reasonable prices.
One of the best indy groups around is CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, which has a roster full of colorful characters, a Lucha Libre inspired style, and a cartoon theme for their DVDs. But the action in the ring is anything but WWF/80’s/Cartoon style, and the storylines are intricate, compelling and intelligent.
Check out their stuff, starting at:
Ring of Honor
ROH is the elite tier of the indy world, and may be on the cusp of challenging the mainstream. Of course, the DVD library of the promotion has tons of looks at CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Daniel Bryan (ie Bryan “American Dragon” Danielson) and other notable stars of the mainstream.
The promotion sets the standard of in-ring excellence, and mixes in some other styles. There’s never a bad DVD with ROH, and always a full card of excellent matches.
Dragon Gate USA
The American branch of the Japanese trend-setting promotion has established itself with home-grown talent, intermixed with the native roster that was light-years ahead of the industry five years ago. DG USA continues to push the envelope, and there’s no DVD over the past few years that wouldn’t elicit tremendous reactions from new viewers.
(The site has a $10 Special for all DVDs until November 28th, which includes Evolve DVDs_
This promotion is also booked by Gabe Sapolsky, and has an awesome, sports-oriented product. The wins/losses and other attention to records makes it different, and the promotion was intended to be a vehicle for top indy names. If you’re a fan who wants to see a different take on how wrestling can be presented, and enjoys top-notch announcing (Lenny Leonard is one of the best!), take a chance on one or more of EVOLVE’s DVDs.
AAW – Pro Wrestling Redefined
This Chicago-based promotion was put on the mainstream radar with CM Punk’s appearance over the summer. In many ways, AAW has an old school feel, but uses the top talents in the indy world. Silas Young is one of the most underrated Champions around, and AAW constantly tries to push the envelope of what wrestling is assumed to be – without insulting the fans.
Absolute Intense Wrestling
This Cleveland, Ohio based promotion is at the crossroads between Chicago and Philadelphia, and sports a roster that mixes well with top indy talent. AIW has seen some changes and shifts in appearance of the product, and tends to be more extreme than others, and yet the guys who came from AIW (Michael Tarver, Crimson) have gotten their shots in the mainstream.
Full Impact Pro
Florida’s FIP has been a stalwart in the indy world, often working with Ring of Honor talent, but more than often presenting a truly old school sense of professional wrestling, with the podium, the studio audience and the guest stars. Nostalgia may be an initial appeal, but it’s a great product and one that grows on you if you’re a long time fan.
Women’s Superstars Uncensored (WSU)
One of the big two of the Women Wrestling scene, WSU flirts with mainstream talent and is drawn to using former WWE and TNA names, pitting them against the best of the industry. WSU also touts the best of all current Champions, in Mercedes Martinez.
SHIMMER Women Athletes
The other of the big Women Wrestling promotions, SHIMMER is far more the workrate promotion, and is a sister promotion to Ring of Honor. Whether MsChif or Madison Eagles, the SHIMMER Champion is a respected worker, and the roster is a great mix of veteran and young talent, plus Australian and Japanese stars.
Internet Pay Per View may not be the standard … yet, but more than a few indy wrestling promotions are going that route, and what I’ve seen of iPPV is usually worth the effort. (Actually, my greatest complaint, aside from an occasional delay or two, is that the cards are way too long!)
Go Fight Live appeals to both indy wrestling fans, and indy Mixed Martial Art fans, with weekly events of a various range of pricing and product.
Live Events
If DVD’s aren’t appealing, tickets to live events are always a great introduction to the indy world, and while the wrestling world no longer has regional or city based promotions in every State, there seems to be a revival of wrestling across the country. Check out the links above for local appearances, as several of the big promotions do tour.
I’ve become a fan of the United Wrestling Coalition, which is doing its fifteenth “Toys for Tots” even on December 3rd at the Burlington County College in New Jersey.
Look for more information at:

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