So much of wrestling history has been lost to time forever. Whether it’s due to a lack of footage or corporate mismanagement, large swaths of significant pro wrestling history will just never be made available to us. There’s a reason that some fans spend so much time pondering “holy grail” matches. One might remember the ruckus that kicked up when the long-fabled Tom Magee vs. Bret Hart tape finally surfaced after decades of legend building up.
Given that so much of wrestling is lost by its own producers and keepers, it’s no surprise that fan-created wrestling media has its own fair share of lost artifacts. Even on the relatively recent medium of YouTube videos, so much has already disappeared.
More professional wrestling:
- Booker T, the Glass Ceiling, and the Life Lessons of Being a Black Wrestling Fan
- Shine On You Crazy Wizard: On Keiji Muto and Reinvention
- Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Go Shiozaki vs. Kazuyuki Fujita Was the Match of the Pandemic
As someone that maintains a wrestling YouTube channel, there’s something fascinating about those lost pieces of history. They serve as constant reminders that nothing is permanent. Things that fans and creators spent hours upon hours on can someday disappear in the blink of an eye. It’s a fate that anyone who creates content about wrestling, especially on YouTube, should be wary of.
Here are five examples of wrestling video creators who seemingly vanished from the scene. Some may be more familiar to you than others and some are more “lost” than others, but all seemed to just faded away for one reason or another.
5. Reliving Wrestling
In its very short-lived peak, Reliving Wrestling made well-produced recaps of some of the most infamous storylines in WWE history. Things like the Summer of Punk and its decline, the Kane/Snitsky/Lita pregnancy debacle, and even Booker T’s doomed WrestleMania run against Triple H were all covered on the channel.
Of all the channels I’m covering here, Reliving Wrestling’s demise was the most recent. All through 2019, the channel experienced a steady rise in viewers and subscribers drawn in by the familiar topics being discussed. Almost all of Reliving Wrestling’s videos covered storylines in the WWE’s modern history that had already developed strong reputations over time. The nostalgic allure of seeing these stories condensed with the curated elaborations of a narrator made Reliving Wrestling an easy channel to watch and subscribe to.
Unfortunately, the channel’s greatest strength also proved to be its downfall. The almighty and mysterious YouTube algorithm may privilege the brand recognition of the WWE, but having that much McMahon-owned footage all in the same place was just asking for trouble. Even at the peak of their powers, Reliving Wrestling was known for having to re-edit and re-upload their videos in an attempt to constantly dodge copyright takedowns.
In early 2020, the war against Vince McMahon’s faceless copyright bots was lost. The channel was shut down just as it seemed primed to reach 100,000 subscribers. Luckily, of all the content I’ll be discussing here, Reliving Wrestling might be the least “lost” of all of them. It’s easy enough to find reuploaded copies of the videos on channels unaffiliated with the original content creator. As far as I know, the original creator hasn’t been heard from since the channel shutdown and there have been no new videos either.
3 & 4. RealNeatPuro & Showbuckle
New Japan fans of the early 2010s speak of the pair of RealNeatPuro and Showbuckle with the hushed reverential tones often reserved for martyrs. It’s not hard to see why either. With their slick and neat video essay-style presentation, both RealNeatPuro and Showbuckle offered accessible explainers of New Japan Pro Wrestling to English-speaking fans. Their videos covered the arcs of notable members of the roster and even went in depth to analyze tentpole rivalries such as Tanahashi vs. Okada.
Perhaps the best remembered video from these two was Showbuckle’s “The Fall and Rise of Tetsuya Naito.” Released in the run up to Wrestle Kingdom 12, the video acted as the perfect primer to the Okada vs. Naito main event. The video become so widespread among the English speaking New Japan audience that Kevin Kelly even directly referenced it on commentary during New Japan events.
However, if there’s any promotion that gives the WWE’s trigger-happy approach to copyright strikes a run for its money, it’s New Japan, or more specifically their broadcast partner TV Asahi. Both channels received multiple takedowns during 2018, killing their upwards trajectory. Showbuckle attempted to migrate their videos to other platforms but that ended in more copyright strikes.
RealNeatPuro attempted to adapt to the change, re-editing videos to only utilize still images and even releasing a one-hour plus essay on why Kazuchika Okada might be the greatest pro wrestler of all time. The Okada video, in particular, acted as a real inspiration to myself as my own “Daniel Bryan is the Greatest Wrestler of All Time” is practically a direct response. Even these changes couldn’t sustain RealNeatPuro, however, and the channel is now gone.
Soon after both channels vanished from YouTube, New Japan began releasing their own English content summarizing and recapping significant arcs in their recent history.
Circle of life, I guess.
Now we’re getting into the deep cuts.
Wrestling fandom in the 2000s and even into the early 2010s was defined by forums. If you started watching wrestling in that timeframe, you would have inevitably been in at least one of the big wrestling forums, maybe even having accounts on multiple forums. For me, the early 2010s was my first time dipping my toes as an actual member of a forum instead of just lurking about.
My first forum of choice was puroresu.tv. Those who were a part of it probably remember it for the standard practice of translating star ratings into percentages out of a 100. If only forum had lived long enough to see Meltzer bump the star rating system to seven. One can only dream of the forum wars about how the scale out of 100 might be adjusted to reflect that.
Several of the most frequent posters on puroresu.tv had YouTube channels where they would directly reference projects being hosted on the forum. One of the admins of the forum, Daniel, had a channel where he would often review contemporary Japanese pro wrestling. Notably, his production value was leagues ahead of most other YouTubers of the time. He seemed to be filming on actual camera and actually edited his videos in the style of a polished vlog as opposed to just speaking directly to a laptop webcam.
The videos most worth noting from his channel, however, were titled two re-evaluations of two somewhat divisive pro wrestlers. The two videos—“John Cena: A Great Worker?” and “Akira Taue: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Athleticism and Embrace the Gangly Arms”—utilized a more essay-style approach to wrestling discussion that greatly influenced how I talk about wrestling today. They were also excellent videos for helping me reconsider some ideas that were incredibly prevalent online at the time: 1) John Cena is a bad wrestler (he’s not) and 2) Akira Taue is the worst Pillar by a wide margin (he’s not).
With the puroresu.tv forum also shutting down, there’s practically no trace that these particular videos even existed. Dig long enough on the Wayback Machine and you’ll find references to it online but those videos seem to be long gone.
Upon doing some research for this piece, I found that the actual YouTube channel does still exist. I was poking around the old videos of one of the other former puroresu.tv posters and found that he named the channel in his video descriptions. A quick Google search reveals that there’s actually a DanielTalksPuroresu Twitter account that references the videos I mentioned above. The tweets even link to those videos but they’re now set to private. The Twitter account itself hasn’t been posted to since 2013.
The DanielTalksPuroresu channel does still exist though. It’s been purged of almost all of its content at this point. All that remains is a single vlog-style review of a Pro Wrestling NOAH show held in the UK in 2011. The description of the video has links to other videos, all of which have been set to private.
Daniel never reached the levels of virality that the other creators on this list. Even among the prominent wrestling vloggers of the time, he was one of the smaller names. If anything, though, this only adds to the myth-like memory I have of his videos. Who knows why they disappeared? I recall some WWE clips being used in the Cena video, perhaps copyright did him in too.
Or maybe he just moved on.
Type “mickeybabylon” into a YouTube search bar and you’ll get some hits. Not from any of his videos though. Instead, you’ll find videos from other wrestling YouTubers of the era plugging mickeybabylon’s channel to their subscribers. They hold him up as potentially the next big thing in the YouTube Wrestling Community.
For a while, he was too.
Granted, being the next big thing in the YouTube Wrestling Community at the time meant having something like 200 or so subscribers. But those who followed channels like SandersRobin24 or bigratthreeten made mickeybabylon’s videos appointment viewing. Whereas other creators at the time focused on pay-per-view and event reviews, mickeybabylon’s channel was almost entirely dedicated to fantasy booking.
The crown jewel in his body of work was the HindsightMania series. In it, he rebooked every WrestleMania card up to 2012. He set a few rules for himself for this project. He respected historical accounts of injuries, deaths, and people leaving the company but he also allowed himself the leeway to book around those inevitabilities, hence the title of the show.
In mickeybabylon’s alternative vision of WWE history, Andre the Giant beats Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, Raven main events in Madison Square Garden, ECW interrupts the finish of WrestleMania 2000, and the new big bad UFC-esque shooter in the 2010s was Jake Hager. They weren’t always great ideas but they were always interesting, to say the least.
He didn’t care about production value. Every video featured him sitting back, talking into a grainy digital camera, and chain smoking through the entire runtime. The real draw was just sitting back to listen to mickeybabylon explain his philosophies on wrestling booking and wrestling aesthetics. It often skewed a little too heavily towards aping ECW, as was his suggestion for an ROH rebranding in 2012, but it always made for good viewing nonetheless.
One of the last projects he completed before disappearing was “Who Ya Got?” Here, he invited his viewers to upload videos or send him messages discussing who they might book to build their own fantasy roster. As an avid fan, I PMed him my selections via YouTube back when YouTube still had private messaging. When discussing my roster in his own video, he went on a tangent about how blonde-haired wrestlers always evoked a particular image and character and thus should be used sparingly.
In his last few videos before disappearing, he promised to return with a massive project discussing how music related to pro wrestling. It’s a topic he touched on several times in his other videos, often assigning alternate theme songs to wrestlers to enhance their presentation. The new series would look into the best examples of theme songs and their relations to pro wrestling characters.
It never came.
Who knows what happened to mickeybabylon? I’ve asked some of his contemporaries from the time about him and they all seem just as baffled at his disappearance as I am. Copyright takedowns don’t seem to be the answer as he never used outside footage, music, or even utilized editing of any kind. He just seems to have packed up his stuff and disappeared for some reason or another. Maybe he’s still somewhere out there, taking a long drag off his cigarette before discussing the sports-like importance of The Motor City Machine Guns representing their hometown.