chapter  10
12 Pages

Pile-driving the fourth wall

Audience as participant in CHIKARA professional wrestling
WithMatthew Wysocki, Joshua Call

In June 2013, independent professional wrestling federation CHIKARA Pro Wrestling destroyed their own company. What followed were extensive campaigns, the emergence of “sister” wrestling promotions, the #IAmCHIKARA movement, rallies, and online videos – but no wrestling. For the next eight months, CHIKARA used alternate means to tell stories, all of which relied on the formation of a participatory culture. This chapter argues that CHIKARA’s transmedia storytelling would have failed if the fans had refused to participate in their roles. Instead, fans actively engaged with CHIKARA’s unconventional narrative tactics, and in the process both the company and their fans broke the parameters of indie wrestling and the definition of audience.