Dark Side of the Ring: Nick Gage Review

After hearing Jim Cornette rant about garbage wrestling, I wasn’t too keen on this episode. Matter of fact, I never heard of Nick Gage up until this episode, which had it more a novelty than something I was passionately interested in (compared to say the Benoit, Hart or Pillman ones). That said, garbage/hardcore style wrestling never really had been my thing and this one looked to be quite violent and graphic.

I suppose the positive as a casual wrestling fan these days of the format for these shows is that it introduces one to people, events and ideas that they may never encounter until checking this program out. With garbage/hardcore wrestling, I had long stopped keeping up where promotions like ECW and FMW would be my primary almost exclusive exposure. With ECW though, I would watch guys such as Malenko or Guerrero while FMW I was mostly would watch for Megumi Kudo. Everything else was more of a side show and especially with FMW as a freak stunt show for some of the things they would attempt to pull.

I have heard of the underground wrestling scene with CZW or some of these backyard promotions just because they would get mentioned on various news sites or might promote wrestlers I might have cared about at one point in time. Other than that these wrestlers or promotions would seem more like name dropping to me and the only way I would even possibly see them is if they were part of a clip on a montage somewhere on YouTube as I never would actively seek out these indy wrestlers.

So this episode on Nick Gage was pretty mind blowing but for the wrong reasons. I knew it would be hard to watch just by the number of gimmicks. But my first instinct in seeing the preview was “this guy is nuts!” And again, this fascination is literally the analogy of the car wreck you pass by on the freeway that you cannot stop watching.

The way they introduced Nick Gage as being naturally successful in the hardcore scene was by him describing himself as “having a high pain threshold.” My interpretation for “high pain threshold” is that the neurons in the brain don’t exactly connect that quickly to a person’s common sense. The way this guy talked just made me believe that mentally something was amiss. Possible low key autism. But the intelligence level is almost neanderthal which almost seems like a prerequisite in this style.

Now, I do not want to take anything away from the people who do this for a living in terms of their courage/heart. But one must question why anyone willingly would go through this level of punishment for peanuts.

So one of the events that they talked about was an underground thing in Delaware. I looked at this event being the equivalent to Burning Man due to the way these people attempted to evade the authorities through having a secret location. Of course, an incident happens here where Gage goes through a bunch of light bulbs that were not gimmicked and cuts his artery under his arm. Honestly, I wanted to vomit and had to look away. This was just not….smart.

Then Gage goes onto try and continue because he’s trying to sell how he wants to not lose. Some may argue that it could’ve been him attempting to portray a character but because it was in the back, most likely it was just this guy being an absolute moron. Then they had to airlift him out of the area because it was too far off to obtain a normal ambulance and he had legally died during the ride.

Oddly, people want to describe him as being a legend for effectively Jon Snow’ing the incident and no selling death. I mean, what does that tell you about the mentality of people who get behind this fool? I know one thing, there is no mentality because that aspect of these people is long gone.

Regardless, as the show continues the incident from that match seems to be a leading cause for him getting more and more addicted to painkillers and drugs. But because this underground wrestling effectively gets peanuts, he goes broke, living with his girlfriend at the mother’s home until the mother kicks them both out for being leeches.

The promoter, who almost is complicit in handling Gage, finds the guy at his home and also pushes him out, which makes Gage homeless. The girlfriend, who is another brain dead decadent loser, decides to being his permanent supporter and they go out together to the street. In his desperation, he goes and robs a bank without a mask (I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one of these Capitol Rioters at this point). Even Moxley is effectively describing this guy as an imbecile.

When he shows up at his promoter friend’s home with a bag of bank cash, the promoter kicks him out and says that he should turn himself in. But this idiot decides to hit Atlantic City for a few days to live life then eventually turn himself in. Honestly, if you don’t see why this guy has less brain cells than an amoeba at this stage, you probably are from the same genetic mis-breeding that he spawn from.

At any rate, he goes to jail, receives support from fans around the world (which might be a dozen) that encourages him to change. He works out, gets out of the jail, the girlfriend continues to stick by his side, but his brother commits suicide and he continues to do these hardcore shows because of fans’ misguided support.

Now, one of the things that bothered me in all of this is the fact that he has a home now. Heck, I’ve been renting for the past 7-8 years and it drives me nuts that some goofball managed to secure a piece of property of all things. How? And he gets this fan support which simply validates these misguided notions that what he does is justifiable, which in turn allows him to have this home.

From what was shown, it did not seem as though this guy was, outside of the ring beyond the robbing incident, necessarily a terrible person. It only gives a shallow account of whom this person is. The very basic values make it seem that he cares about his mother, has a sense of pride and merely exist because he does have a loyalty towards his fans.

But those values get twisted up when a bunch of morons end up supporting someone like this. It shows the misbegotten values of society where people entangle up notions of valor and courage with reckless stupidity. With New Jack just passing away from a heart attack at the young age of 58, what will happen with someone like a Nick Gage whose body endures this type of punishment but the mind refuses to quit?

I know Jim Cornette refused to watch this show on the premise of integrity but one has to step back and look at the bigger picture of what’s going on here. There’s a great quote from Shawn Michaels on Brian Pillman’s death where someone ask whether the boys ever attempted to prevent Pillman from continuing his ways, knowing only in retrospect how he will fall to his fate. The quote went along the lines of “you can’t tell a wrestler what to do in this business. They’re going to do what they want to do.”

That idea reminds me of how wrestling effectively is fueled by the alpha-male persona with testosterone driven emotion. Despite how wrestling is staged, the game is about oneupsmanship, which is the elimination of critical thinking and common sense in favor of brute pride. If there is a consistent morality theme in pro-wrestling, it’s where things will be forced to go before it self-implodes.


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