Visions of Cody

A recent commenter in these pages raised the issue of whether cross-promotional talent in underground wrestling risks not only overexposure for the popular star but also the waste of a lot of budding new talent whose job is being taken by the star. It's a good and smart question, perhaps illustrative of the current economic crisis. The poor economy has worked a lot of nerves, and we're all a little eager to find out who's to blame. First, OPEC raised the price of crude oil; then Asian industry took over worldwide production; now illegal immigrants are accused of stealing your weekly paycheck; maybe next it's Eli Black taking all the good spots in underground wrestling.

Anyway, the comment got me to thinking. That's good. What are the economic ramifications of the way the underground wrestling scene is set up? And what's my place in that scheme as a blogger and a fan?

My impression is that both of these risks (overexposure and waste) are real. However, underground wrestlers have a short shelf life. I haven't got the statistics to back it, but my hunch is that they have a shorter career path than porn stars, who don't deal with the wear and tear of athletic competition, or mainstream pro wrestlers, who don't usually have to worry as much about losing their youth or dimpled good looks. I'm not sure how long the average BG East or Thunder's Arena star is able to draw paying customers, but I'm pretty sure it's shorter than for a CPA. It's understandable that talented stars should seek to capitalize on their popularity while they have it.

Risks, however, may be real, without actually being likely. I wonder if there really is a waiting list of eager, capable, and buff wrestlers who are not being given a chance on the mats because of Jake Jenkins or Cameron Mathews or Aryx Quinn. I also wonder whether underground superstars like Rio Garza and Axel and Christian Taylor and Z-Man would have richer or poorer careers if they stuck with just one promotion (and one name). I'm sure there are individual examples of unused or burnt-out talent, but I wonder how typical they are. Again, statistics, if available, might settle the matter.

There's not one of the wrestlers I have mentioned above who does not deserve the opportunities he has been given, even though naturally not all of them appeal to me equally. New venues allow these guys to face a different set of competitors and work in a different house style, and all of them have shone brightly in a variety of settings. Many others get their shot at UCW or Rock Hard or Can-Am and, for one reason or another, they don't catch on, perhaps because of looks or attitude or wrestling skill, perhaps because they can't get along with bosses or coworkers, perhaps because, getting a taste of the spotlight, they decide it's not for them or simply not worth the effort of training and working out to stay in tiptop shape. Also, it may be because the fans just aren't there for them right now, a question of bad timing and, frankly, social norms and prejudices: guys may be ready and eager to wrestle, but too old, too hairy, too short, too doughy, too dark-skinned, too effeminate, too inked to attract many fans at the particular time they're seeking entry into the biz.

It's also my personal opinion that there are a number of guys working in several promotions who deserve even more attention than they have been given. Some of them may be quite popular, but simply do not suit the fancy of bloggers like me and so they don't get talked about enough. If you're a fan of one of these guys, I strongly urge you to start a fan blog and beat a drum for this guy. You don't have to be an industry "insider" to be a fan. As fans of wrestling, Bruno, Bard, StayPuft, and others (including me) write about what we like, revealing more about our personal tastes and kinks than about the businesses we write about (and sometimes, part time, for). This is not so much marketing as it is self-analysis, journal-keeping, and backseat-driving. Anybody can do it (perhaps not as well as I do, but, then, there you are). 

Some of these underexposed "overexposed" workers already have bloggers as fans, but either because of simple oversight or because of a lack of much photographic material on them, they have been pushed somewhat to the margins. For instance, Cody Nelson has gathered enough posts to have a solid place on this blog's "Roster" (see sidebar), but the posts are fewer in number than those for wrestlers I like no better than him. Cody, 6', 175#, wrestles at Rock Hard Wrestling and (formerly) Thunder's Arena, both houses based in Florida. He is one of my favorite wrestlers at both companies. He's hot, strong, agile, arrogant, and mean--basically all my essential food groups. And he once wrestled his brother! (Bonus points!) And he pulls hair! (Extra bonus points!) As I mentioned just recently (about the time I made the discovery) he reminds me a bit of Z-Man and Jake Jenkins. I'm a fan, but (I don't know) perhaps my limited budget for wrestling downloads, or inconvenient timing of his releases, or the fact that he doesn't get to play the heel often enough, or sheer late-middle-age forgetfulness on my part had relegated him (and others undeserving of such a slight) to equal standing with several promotions that have not been in business for years. 

The truth is that Cody has never looked hotter or performed better than he does right now. He doesn't always seem to get the "selling" part of pro-style wrestling, sometimes smiling inappropriately when he should be paralyzed with fear or rage. Still, his flip amiability is obviously part of his appeal (much as it is for Big Sexy or Joshua Goodman, though Cody's less a talker than these two). In his recent tag match at Rock Hard Wrestling, I enjoyed the critical, big-brotherly edge to his "encouragement" of his partner Travis Storm ("Fight your way out of it") and his pointed disregard of the fact that the other team was doubling up on Travis. I especially liked the way, at one point, he kicked one of his opponents out of the ring because he really wanted to wrestle the guy's partner. That's the kind of style that warms my cockles, and, right now, I can't get enough of it, wherever and whomever he wrestles next.
"The sins of America are precisely that the streets . . . are empty where their houses are, there's no sense of neighborhood anymore, a neighborhood quarter or a neighborhood freeforall fight between two streets of young husbands is no longer possible except I think in Dagwood Bumstead and he ain't for real."--Visions of Cody, by Jack Kerouac (published posthumously in 1972)


  1. Joe, thanks for shining a spotlight on Cody... he's one of my faves as well. BTW, great stills from his Thunder's Arena match against BamBam! Love that match... both guys are sooo hot!


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