Follow the Buzzards
Pro Wrestling in the Age of COVID-19
by Keith Elliot Greenberg
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Pub Date 04 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 02 Aug 2022
Industry expert Keith Elliot Greenberg chronicles pro wrestling through the most memorable, controversial, and polarizing period of the last two decades
As a new decade dawned, 2020 was supposed to be the best year to be a wrestling fan. Finally, WWE had serious competition in All Elite Wrestling (AEW), and there were viable secondary promotions and a thriving international indie scene. Few in the industry realized that in China, a mysterious virus had begun to spread. By the time a pandemic was declared in March, the business — and the world — was in disarray. For the first time, pro wrestling was no longer seen as escapism, as real-world events intruded on the fantasy. Still, when everything else shut down, wrestling never went away. Despite cancellations and empty arena shows, there were great innovations, like the cinematic match — battles shot to look like movies — and the “ThunderDome,” which replicated the live experience with fan faces surrounding the ring on LED screens. On the indie circuit, matches were held outdoors with spectators separated into socially distanced pods. The entire time, New York Times bestselling author and historian Keith Elliot Greenberg was chronicling the scene, juxtaposing pro wrestling developments with actual news events like the U.S. presidential election and Brexit. The result, Follow the Buzzards: Pro Wrestling in the Age of COVID-19, captures the dread, confusion, and spontaneous creativity of this uncertain era while exploring the long-term consequences.