I made the mistake of going to University, thinking my world would open up after years of hard work like that plant from the live-action Dennis the Menace movie. I didn’t learn much but I had one amazing lecturer who instilled in me some amazing advice that I still carry with me to this day: If you like something, acknowledge it’s faults and if you dislike something, acknowledge it’s positives. Always keep an analytic mind about whatever it is you’re consuming to keep your brain happy and healthy so you don’t end up like James Wood’s head at the end of Videodrome.
This mind-set has helped keep me sane through the years but has lead to some confusing moments when a friend asks me what I thought about a film we have watched together, and I tell them “It went on ten minutes too long, the editing was choppy and one of the actors’ couldn’t remember where his accent was from…I loved it!!”
And it goes without saying that I’ve kept that mentality for wrestling too.
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It makes sense for people to assume that I have some deep insecure hatred for wrestling considering my decade-plus run of making dodgy compilation videos highlighting the negatives of the art-form. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although there have been many down periods for myself as a wrestling fan (Thunder 2000, Raw 2010, every European wrestler being a nonce), these have only left small welts on my love of wrestling. And I credit That One Lecturer’s advice for that.
Laughing WITH Wrestlers
The overall aim for Botchamania has always been to laugh WITH the wrestlers rather than AT it, but I’ll gladly admit the line has been blurred Russo-style many times. Wrestling fans are like that old Jewish joke: “get three wrestling fans around a table and you’ll have fifteen opinions.” Every fan has their own idea of what wrestling means to them, who their favourite wrestler is and how your favourite stinks so shut up.
With social media’s instant gratification winding everyone up worse than a set of those chattering teeth you don’t see any more, it can be very easy to succumb to hate-watching, especially when you’re known as one of those people who points at something and yells “hey look at this malarkey.” People are very quick to show me something they consider to be the worst thing they’ve ever seen in wrestling and they barely register on my radar, but I guess every generation has to discover their own Shockmaster/Seven/Killer Kross event horizon.
With AEW and WWE fans making social media as fun to enjoy as The Locust’s last album, I make Botchamania as a way of staying calm and reminding myself that even with the pyro, blood and stadiums, this is just wrestling. When it’s done right it can be one of the most wonderfully enjoyable art-forms out there. And when it’s not? Eh, it’s just wrestling.
“But then!” I hear Colette Arrand yell as she proofreads this exercise in Zbyszko-level stalling, “what keeps you interested in wrestling botches? That’s what I asked you to type up two weeks ago, not ‘Hey maffew, please list your favourite James Woods films, Fanfyte’s algorithm loves rambling and Scary Movie 2.'”
Fair enough, fair enough. Why am I still interested in wrestling botches if I love wrestling so much is a decent question that probably involves explanation (and Oliver Stone’s Nixon, Woods was good in that).
When you’re watching wrestling on TV and you get hooked on it and end up becoming a regular viewer, you end up taking so much of it for granted. WWE have such an amazing set-up that your brain ends up not thinking about the sheer amount of effort it takes simply to wheel all the cable out for the pyro at the start of the show. The dieting, exercise, styling, training, memorization, travel, and everything else become invisible but is essential labor on the part of the wrestlers, and between all of that and the simple booking of a venue, not to mention advertising and hoping someone shows up or buys a shirt … it really dawns on you how amazing it is that wrestling events even occur at all, never mind good wrestling.
So I feel that focusing on those moments helps make these efforts visible. To make you truly appreciate how wonderfully entertaining wrestling can be when all the pieces fit, you can watch two wrestlers completely blank on the next spot or forget the name of the place they’re at right now and have it dawn on you that every great match is a spinning plate away from becoming Wrestlecrap.
Why Botchamania When So Many Alternatives Exist?
Colette’s too busy figuring out which streaming services have Citizen Cohn on to possible add “alright, we understand Botchamania has been going on for a while and you used to be relevant but now everyone mocks wrestling, and there’s like a dozen botch accounts on Twitter for AEW, so don’t you feel like the last VHS in Oxfam?”
That’s a good point Colette. I feel the recent trend in weaponizing botches to show how bad a wrestler or company is a fascinatingly bizarre way of looking at a regular occurrence in wrestling. So I stay to help fill the gap for people who are quite happy to point and laugh with the wrestlers and not take them too seriously, because once you’ve seen Bret Hart botch you should realise that none of these mistakes mean anything.
And I’d rather have ten people watching my videos than have a thousand that think anyone’s better than Bret.
So if you’re one of those ten: hope you’re still having fun watching them, still enjoying wrestling and still have a favourite Simpsons episode.
Thanks for reading and long live Fanfyte.