Editorial Columns

The Legacy of Professional Wrestling Magazines

After the announcement of Fighting Spirit Magazines closure, Daniel McIver looks back at the legacy print wrestling media has had in the UK.

This past week, Fighting Spirit Magazine (FSM) announced that their August edition would be there last after a thirteen year run as the United Kingdom’s most successful professional wrestling magazine. 

The announcement comes with waves of sadness from fans but with a reaction that, in summary, was ‘Yeah, we expected this’. 

As a media format, print has been steadily declining over the years thanks to the rise of the internet and general digital advancements. But FSM and many others like it should not be forgotten to the annuls of history. For many growing up as wrestling fans, magazines covering the topics were gold mines. Just like Match or Kick for football fans; WWE Magazine, FSM, Power Slam and many more were the main ways you could find out information about your favorite wrestlers.

This article will take a short jaunt through history to look back at the success stories from both physical and digital magazines on the wonderful world of wrestling and see what these publications have done for fan engagement. 

As a child, teenager and adult; many wrestling fans consume news and information through magazines, just potentially not directly. Either perusing Reddit, Twitter or Facebook and seeing posts from people may fool you into thinking it’s just one giant echo chamber of news but, without these news sites and publication, we’d all be stumbling around in the dark just having to get our news straight from the horses mouth (the horse being any promotion themselves).

Currently, the two most recognizable ‘magazines’ are digital and go by the names of ‘Pro Wrestling Illustrated’ and ‘Wrestling Observer’. Both these publications, which until the internet became mainstream were available in physical forms and had to be bought, are two of, if not the two, main sources of all wrestling news be that independent or mainstream. Journalists such as Dave Meltzer, Bryan Alvarez, Sean Ross Sapp, Ryan Satin, Wade Keller and many more all work round the clock trying to provide as much credible information as physically possible.

For me personally, this has massively improved my own relationship with wrestling. As a kid, the ‘kayfabe’ world was all I knew and that’s why I liked wrestling. Cheering for the guys and girls I liked and booing the ones I didn’t. However, as I got older and understood that, shock, wrestling isn’t real; my way of looking at the business changed for, in my opinion, the better. I now analyse the show I’m watching with ‘Oh, I hope so and so gets pushed strongly’ or ‘Aw, I hope this story goes like this’ and all of that is down to the open world of backstage situations that both physical and digital magazines have opened up to me and millions of others. 

I left wrestling for a period of time in the late 2000s. During 2007, I left the professional wrestling world until early 2011 when CM Punk brought me right back in with his pipebomb and the Money in the Bank match with John Cena. This is similar to many people of my age (early 20’s) so that’s a common thing to hear and you may have encountered it before. However, what may not be as common, is hearing that wrestling magazines had a huge part in me coming back; specifically Fighting Spirit Magazine.

I remember being told about Punk by my uncle for a while but wasn’t too interested. But one day, I walked into my local supermarket and saw FSM with the front cover being Punk sat, on the stage, cutting said promo and I was immediately interested. I bought a copy and from then on, I was hooked. 

When you’re young and you get the WWE magazine, it’s always exciting because you’re a child who wants as much of the thing you like as you can. But FSM and magazines similar to it perfectly toed that line of ‘real’ and ‘fake’ stories to keep every side interested. In my opinion; that should be the legacy of professional wrestling magazines. They should be remembered, and still discussed, in the aspect of keeping fandoms alive. They provide content when there regularly wouldn’t be any.

They provide analysis and insights that wouldn’t be available to the regular person, just looking in. They make wrestling more fun and it’s a sad day that FSM is closing its doors. But, without them, we wouldn’t be in the journalistic scenario we are now. So thank you. You brought me back. 

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You can find me on Twitter @McIverTheMark. Thanks for reading.

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