In the early 15th Century, Cosimo Medici, patriarch of his famed Italian family, rose to prominence in Florence. He did so via his skills as its preeminent banker, a gift equaled only by his savvy in politics.
What Medici is arguably best known for is how he spent much of his wealth. His love and patronage of the arts engendered some of the Italian Renaissance’s greatest works, to include Donatello’s ‘David’ also completion of Brunelleschi’s Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore.
Why the history lesson?
When I ponder independent wrestling, Cosimo Medici immediately comes to mind. I know, this analogy is an odd one, but hear me out.
Independent wrestlers and talent, much like the artists of the Renaissance, pursue a labor of love in a crowded entertainment and arts space. To pursue their dreams, these individuals invest faith both in their abilities plus individuals willing to support them out of appreciation for the craft.
In doing so, this path can be a bumpy one. Sponsors aren’t always available, also family and other obligations may force one’s hand to limit efforts to perfect said craft. Ditto variables outside their control, to include economic crises and military squabbles. Moreover, Medici – and other art patrons – ultimately dictate the tenets of this artistic expression. Even in the 1400s, money talks, and art must answer to those who pay the bills.
With this being said – and as history conveyed – Cosmo Medici and his offspring were godsends to Italian Renaissance art. Their steadfast commitment to furthering Italy’s artistic contributions and for decades at time ensured it an enduring marker as one of the brightest spots in artistic history.
While not Medici-esque by individual influence, today’s independent wrestling supporters combine to serve a similar purpose.
Despite the inner workings and politics of what can be a very trying labor of love, at the end of day it is the fans that empower these individuals to pursue their art.
Lost in the land of smarks (art critics who do little to further the art), bigger/smaller promotions, (competing artists vying for the eyes of patrons) and personalities (politics internal/external to the art) is the recognizance of just how important devoted fans are to independent wrestling’s survival.
Well, we all can’t be Cosmo Medici; independent wrestling supporters come in all shapes, sizes, and life stories. Some are doing better than others financially, likewise in life circumstance in general. Still, to discount the contributions of any of these individuals based on socio-economic first look is foolish at best. Akin to Medici, they’re providing the chisel and marble for Donatello to forge David.
That’s a very long way to go to state something oft-forgotten in independent wrestling: athletes, talent, and promotions need to better appreciate their fans.
Specifically, don’t be afraid of them. Yes, there are lunatics on social media, trolls out to rain on the sunniest of days, and those not quite right in the head with unhealthy crushes. This portion of the fanbase, however, is miniscule albeit loudest. And you’re doing a terrible job as a whole in recognizing this.
To explain, false airs and/or boundaries in favor of an ‘athletes only club’ ensures the Duomo never gets finished. Also sends a strong albeit sometimes unintended message of being a condescending jerk. Mike Trout signed autographs in college, AA, and now in the major leagues. Mike Trout is a good guy who happens to be a world class athlete.
As the old saying goes, ‘act like you’ve been there before’…and you may get to where you want to be. Hold those around you accountable toward the same.
I bring this up as – from our experiences – independent wrestlers are only getting worse at appreciating their Cosimo Medici’s.
It is OK to have friendships with those who support you most. It is likewise expected to say ‘thank you’ to individuals who keep the lights on. Third, treat supporters with the same respect they treat you with, and perhaps more. Remember: you need them more than they need you. Although they sure as heck appreciate to the nth degree the joy you bring to their lives.
Related – and back to Mike Trout: don’t forget where you came from. We’ve seen a disturbing trend of independent athletes and talent experiencing supporter amnesia at the first sniff of bigger opportunity. This is perhaps the most foolish of all actions. These supporters can fuel the flames of success when you needed the most. Example: when “San-ta-na” chants reign down from the Full Sail crowd, they’re appreciating the enormous amount of love Santana Garrett gives back to the Central Florida community. To Garrett, these fans send a strong message to the powers that be she deserving of present and potentially future and greater opportunities.
Moreover, there’s only so many Medici’s to go around. Turn on them, and they’ll find another artist who appreciates their patronage more appropriately. There’s no fall from grace in independent wrestling, rather timing and decision making rhythms.
Forget your supporters along the way, and they’ll forget you at lower points. A poor locker room culture and/or management that embraces this will shut the whole promotion down.
This site created a unique opportunity for us to get to know the athletes, talents, promotions and supporters of independent wrestling both locally and globally. We’ve met some of the most wonderful people along the way, to include merchandise peeps, cameramen, security, marketing reps, apparel manufacturers, ring announcers, pod casters, and artists. These individuals embrace the symbiosis of patron and performer, the resulting art we all love.
I’ve heard several say we’re going through a ‘renaissance of independent wrestling’ at present. If the artists disdain Medici, however, they’re in for a rude awakening.