The following article was originally written for a multimedia class. Enjoy!
Among fans of video games, movies, comics and the like, there is a constant debate people love to have: who would win in a fight between their favorite characters?
Ben Meltzer, a wrestler better known as Joey Saint to his fans, decided there was one way to find out: a battle in the ring.
“I wanted to do some kind of wrestling involving ‘popular’ geek characters,” Meltzer, 28, said. “I really wanted to expose more new people to wrestling.”
Hoping to expand his wrestling audience six years ago, Meltzer did research on conventions in and around the Miami area. It was during this research that he came across Florida SuperCon, a convention celebrating comic books, cartoons, video games, and the like.
He then approached Mike Broder, the promoter for SuperCon. After some talk, they decided to bring wrestling to SuperCon, staging wrestling matches between characters like Super Mario and Spider-Man.
“It was originally called SuperCon Mania,” said Meltzer. “Later, we settled on Florida SuperCon Championship Wrestling. The first event we set up only had three wrestlers who were actually trained and four that had no formal training.”
After hammering out a few details with Broder, Meltzer was able to set up the first SuperCon wrestling event at the Miami Airport Convention Center in July 2009.
The show brought together an audience of about 500 people. Meltzer considered that a great success and believed the first convention outing to be popular with the convention fans.
Now, there has been a wrestling event at every SuperCon ever since.
Still, wrestlers are accustomed to certain conditions and audiences. Conventions and wrestling matches are two completely different types of events. In order to make convention crowds happy, wrestlers need to change a few aspects of their gimmicks.
Vincent Dombrowski, an up-and-coming wrestler, said there are some very big differences, particularly among the audiences.
“There was a time when I would have said that you couldn’t tell the difference between a Convention fan and a wrestling fan,” he said. “But in today’s world, it seems like they’re oil and water.”
Dombrowski believes that wrestling fans seem to have a sense of entitlement nowadays. He says the fans act like they’re smart to the business and know better than the wrestlers.
Some wrestlers feel there is a certain negative feeling at wrestling events lately. Dombrowski says that the increasing dependence on social media is to blame.
With so many people keeping tabs on their favorite wrestlers, they lose their respect with a wrestler once they consider that wrestler a friend.
“It gets to a point,” he said, “where fans no longer see themselves as fans. They see themselves as friends of yours. They almost seem to be going to shows just to poke fun at the wrestlers.”
On the other hand, Dombrowski feels like fans of conventions go to shows just to have fun.
This is a sentiment also held by Anthony Ragusa, a backstage assistant and media promoter for Florida SuperCon Championship Wrestling.
Ragusa believes that it is easier to entertain fans who go to the convention shows rather than the average wrestling fans.
“SuperCon fans generally don’t know the difference between one wrestling move and another,” he said. “So, it’s up to the wrestlers to keep it entertaining for such a different audience.”
Ragusa also thinks that SuperCon wrestling frees the wrestlers to be a bit more over the top and goofy.
“Comedy is the easiest way to get everyone to be entertained,” he said. “Some might not understand why a certain move is cool. But everyone can laugh at the Green Arrow shooting Super Mario with a green hammer arrow in the crotch.”
As wrestlers are called to wear a different costume and use a different name in the ring, they also are forced to change their style. Where in independent wrestling a wrestler may be the “heel” or “bad guy,” in SuperCon wrestling he may be called to become Wolverine from X-Men.
No matter what kind of show it is, wrestlers always have one job: be entertaining for the audience. As long as someone is having fun, they are doing their jobs right.
The next Florida SuperCon Championship Wrestling event will take place at Florida Supercon itself in the Miami Airport Convention Center near the Double Tree Hotel. There will be a wrestling event almost every night from July 4-7 this summer.