WrestleCircus gets it. They get wrestling fans. They know what wrestling fans want. They understand that modern fans are in on the joke. They want to be a part of the show, but they also want to enjoy the show. WrestleCircus gives these things to their fans in spades. They don’t ask their fans to suspend disbelief for surreal storylines that take place in an otherwise deadly serious real world environment. They don’t take the Mike Quackenbush comic book approach, which alienates all but the geekiest comic book fan with it’s obscure references and self-serving Chikara-style drivel. Instead, Austin, TX based WrestleCircus is a pro wrestling promotion that embraces the over-the-top nature of pro wrestling, presenting it with a circus motif. It’s both a call back to the earliest roots of the sport in travelling carnivals as well as a criticism of it. It is a celebration of and commentary on the old-school and the modern tropes that make professional wrestling both amazing and terrible. Most importantly, it’s run by people who know who their audience is and where to find them.
Finding Success in Unique Ways
Rather than packing up and going on the road, WrestleCircus broadcasts their shows online. Rather than pay for expensive server and hosting fees, WrestleCircus uses Twitch, which added a wrestling category to its directory shortly after YouTube decided that pro wrestling content was trash and that they were going to significantly scale back monetization of wrestling-related videos. Twitch is free, and Twitch is where a generation of savy, cord-cutting kids go to get their content.
Born out of the bowels of the /r/SquaredCircle subreddit, where the emotional temperature of most of the nearly 280,000 subscribers ranges from jaded to completely disillusioned (you’d be hard pressed, on most given days, to find anybody who actually seems to enjoy wrestling), WrestleCircus revealed itself to the public just a little under a year ago. When they announced the roster on Reddit, I was admittedly among those who said, “This concept is stupid and you are going to lose a boatload of money.”
The original roster reveal named Aaron Solow, Christi Jaynes, Chuck Taylor, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Andy Dalton, Hangman Page, Jervis Cottonbelly, Jessica James, Jordan LenX, Lance Hoyt, Lince Dorado, Michael Elgin, Ricky Starks, Sammy Guevara, Scorpio Sky, Dick Justice, Tama Tonga, Tony Nese, and Zema Ion. I figured that this group had come out of nowhere, was going to run one show, lose their ass, and disappear. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Consider this article my sincere apology, WrestleCircus and Al Lenhart. You did it, you crazy, glorious bastard.
The (un)Official Wrestling Promotion of the Entire Internet
Nearly a year later, WrestleCircus and their promoter, Al Lenhart are revolutionizing the way independent pro wrestling uses social media and computer mediated communications. /r/SquaredCircle was where they turned when they needed to name their championships. They allowed internet fans to actually help them book their first card, instead of repeatedly ignoring them. The promoters of WrestleCircus took the niche market of smart, dedicated wrestling fans that the WWE ignores in their quest for mainstream glory, and they said, listen, guys. We know you don’t spend a lot of money. We’re fine with that. We’re here to please you, not advertisers. Tickets? $15 a pop. Can’t make it to Austin for a show? Here it is, live and free on Twitch, because we know you poor bastards would pirate it, anyway.
The more their successful monthly shows continued to intrigue the internet wrestling community, the more they embraced it. Independent wrestler (and Reddit’s favorite) Jervis Cottonbelly even took to the web to ask for Reddit’s assistance as he defended the SideShow Championship at SXSW 2017. Unfortunately, by “submitting” a post with a referee nearby, /r/SquaredCircle became the SideShow Champions.
They saw how hot Leva “Blue Pants” Bates was after her run in NXT, and they took her cosplaying wrestler gimmick to a whole different level, allowing internet users to vote for who she’d dress up as for their shows.
Once the shows launched on Twitch, the company innovated yet another approach to fan interaction. The twitch “cheering” system in which donations and “bits” (little cyber gems that are worth a penny a piece) could be directed straight to their favorite wrestler. Fans can literally watch the show for free and even tip their favorite wrestler, while their match is taking place.
In spite of all the innovation and gimmicks, WrestleCircus also offers downright good wrestling. All of the top names on the American independent scene enthusiastically look forward to working WrestleCircus shows. They’ve got everything from brawlers to comedy acts to internationally known scientific wrestlers chomping at the bit to perform in front of the Austin crowd.
Join in on the Fun!
If you’re curious and want to find out more, WrestleCircus has a live and free show coming up on Saturday, July 22 at 7PM ET. You can join the fun on their Twitch channel. The all-star card features independent wrestling legends Colt Cabana, Jervis Cottonbelly, and Sami Callihan as well as NJPW and Ring of Honor stars Roppongi Vice and former WWE superstar John Morrison as well as a special CZW cross-promotional match! It’s a pretty stacked show. Check out the card below:
If you’re a pro wrestling fan who can’t get enough of grown adults pretending to fight in their underwear like us, do what @WrestleCircus does, and make sure to follow us on Twitter as our own Mike Perry live tweets just about every major show.