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An Ode to Being The Elite: How the YouTube Channel is Making Wrestling “Cool” Again

In her debut article for PWP Nation, Kelsi Schreiber explains how Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks and company are making wrestling cool again with a YouTube channel.

In July of last year I was brainstorming tag teams that my friend and I could dress as. First thing that came to my mind was my newly-acquired favorite tag team The Young Bucks, who I had been watching SO MUCH of because this really unique channel I stumbled across on YouTube: Being The Elite.

The more I watched, the more I smiled and laughed. But I wanted to see more! Somehow the show sparked something in me; I could be in a totally bummed out mood, but just watching it would cheer me up! It influenced me to seek out even more Young Bucks/Elite content –I started to buy their compilation DVDS, as well as a ton of other merch. I sought out their matches on YouTube, ROH episodes on the FITE TV app and on njpwworld.com, checked out their social media and as many interviews or podcast episodes as I could find.

Not only do I think Being The Elite is entertaining and fun to watch, but it is actually changing and evolving the wrestling business.  This really doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering that the Young Bucks have a history of being great at marketing themselves using merchandise and social media. Adding a fun, quirky, and behind-the-scenes YouTube show was just the cherry on top of an already stacked cake of wrestling creativity.

Being The Elite offers extra bonus content for fans of not only the Young Bucks but general fans of wrestling as well. It is a mix of behind-the-scenes documentation of their travel and real interactions with other wrestlers (in other words, a peak behind the proverbial wrestling “curtain”) and fun, creative, made-up/scripted skits and interactions. Moreover, storylines that have been crafted by the Bucks and Kenny Omega on their YouTube channel episodes have even been integrated/incorporated into actual storylines on TV. This has happened time and time again in Ring of Honor, PWG, and NJPW. For example, the addition of Adam Cole into the Bullet Club (you got to see the behind the scenes of the planning of it on the YT channel) as well as the teasing of tension between Omega and Adam Cole which lead to The Bullet Club firing Cole and adding Marty Scurll. Little hints and layers of these stories were woven into the show, thus providing a rich, multi-layered viewing experience for wrestling fans/smarks.

The days of kayfabe in wrestling are gone. The Elite are at the forefront in mapping out the blueprints for achieving success in today’s much different wrestling landscape, which is constantly under the microscope because of the existence of the Internet. Fans want to be in the know and see what goes on before and after the matches. Many fans yearn for interaction with their favorite wrestlers. The Elite have learned to use all that to their advantage, almost becoming wrestling meta – self referential, building inside jokes on top of inside jokes and using their own wrestling fandom and turn it into concrete dollars. People want to be entertained, and The Elite have gone above and beyond to accomplish that.

Some complain that the Bucks don’t use enough “psychology,” but I would argue that they may understand wrestling psychology both in ring and outside of the ring better than almost anyone. Whether you love them or hate them, you are invested in SOME way…I can’t recall meeting a person who is simply indifferent about them. They usually always get an emotional reaction of some type – the most basic building blocks of psychology in wrestling.  

The YB have long been innovative in the squared circle but also in using Twitter and other social media to further their characters, bring publicity to their brand and reach a wider audience than would have previously been possible. Many independent and WWE wrestlers now use these social tools, but the Bucks were some of the first to perfect it and use it so effectively. Superkicking a child and Candice LeRae, a woman wrestler, taking jabs in their tweets at Jim Cornette and making jokes to their other wrestling friends online are all examples of this.

They are living proof that wrestlers can make it without going to the E. Even mainstream media has taken notice. This time five years ago, you wouldn’t see numerous Rolling Stone articles and ESPN articles highlighting independent talent. The Young Bucks have been featured on these mainstream sites half a dozen times this year ALONE. Obviously, many eyes are opened to the fact that these wrestlers are in the midst of changing the landscape of professional wrestling.

Is this an opinion? No, it is a fact. Look to the evidence – Young Bucks and Kenny Omega are so over that now their shirts are being featured in EVERY Hot Topic in the United States and Canada. The only wrestling shirts carried in that store used to be WWE shirts. Then when the Bullet Club and Young Bucks shirts were first stocked, they SOLD OUT EVERYWHERE in no time. Hot Topic hasn’t ever seen anything like that. This is a HUGE deal, and wouldn’t have been successful with just any independent wrestling merchandise brand. In a mere span of a few months, the Elite have also managed to double their YouTube channel subscription numbers, now surpassing 100k subs. Their merch lines are always the longest at independent shows. Their t-shirts on prowrestlingtees.com are the best selling shirts on there, second only to Steve Austin–arguably the biggest wrestling draw of ALL TIME. I’d say that’s pretty good company to be in.

The Young Bucks are not only respected by a decent number of wrestling fans, but also by some of the most historic tag teams, such as the Hardy’s.  Matt Hardy, an innovator in his own right, has stated numerous times how he thinks the Bucks are one of the greatest teams of all time.  He and Jeff specifically wanted to work a program with them in Ring of Honor. They made it happen and had an epic ladder match against the YB at Supercard of Honor the night before their Wrestlemania return to WWE.

Going beyond the superficial and financial accomplishments, it’s easy to see why the Bucks have been jokingly called “good Christian boys.” There seems to be a real, genuine truth behind that. They are two charismatic, likeable people who seem (from every personal interaction I have ever had with them, interview I have read, and podcast I have listened to/video I have seen of theirs) like easy-going, friendly, family-oriented guys who go out of their way to be nice to their fans. They stay at the meet and greets for hours because of their long lines. They are constantly liking and re-tweeting fans’ tweets. Even their family goes out of their way to be nice to the fans. The Bucks’ mom and dad are active on twitter, and Matt’s wife Dana helps to run the Young Bucks merch site, youngbucksmerch.com. All of them are nice as can be. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet the Young Bucks and witness this for myself, and it all started with a silly Halloween costume.

Halloween is my favorite holiday! Every year, I look forward to dressing up and picking a creative costume! The last few years my friend and I decided to dress up as wrestlers.  Macho Man and Hulk Hogan; Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania-version Hogan; and Goldust and Stardust. We usually do costumes that go together!

Eventually my friend told me she couldn’t dress up with me for Halloween because she was going out of town. But I REALLY was looking forward to making a Young Bucks costume! It seemed silly to only dress up as one of them, though, when it so obviously should be a two-person costume. I was facing a dilemma.

My solution came to me! I took inspiration from a guest who attended my family’s big Halloween party the previous year. He was a long-time friend of my mom and dad, and he and his wife had previously dressed as my parents, but that year his wife could not attend the party. So, he still dressed up as my dad and brought a blow up doll that was dressed as my mom with a printed out picture for the face of the doll. Yes, it was a little creepy, but more so, it was hilarious. And in a weird and strange twist of fate, it was my mom who remembered that and suggested that I dress up a doll as the other Young Buck.

Problem solved! The costumes took forever to make it felt like, but it came out looking great. I tweeted pictures of it, and The Young Bucks liked them! I got a real (super)kick out of that.

A few months later in January of 2017, I wore my costume to New Orleans Wizard World Comic Con and attended a Q&A panel with Finn Balor. He spotted the Nick doll when I went up to ask a question and invited me up on stage. He loved the costume and couldn’t stop laughing!

Later that day, someone must have sent pictures of me, the Nick Doll and Finn Balor to the Bucks because somehow Nick Jackson posted a picture of Finn, the doll and I on Instagram saying how nice it was to “see” Finn again after so long. In the same month, I went to a ROH TV taping in Atlanta and was able to meet the Bucks for the first time in person dressed in my costume (because, why not!?). Nick told me they had a group text with Finn Balor about the doll. They couldn’t have been any nicer and posed for pictures with me and my Nick prop.

I saw them another two times after that, and both times they filmed me for episodes of Being The Elite (Episode 43 and the illustrious DM Episode 62)! The second of the two times was recently at the NJPW G1 USA shows in Long Beach, California, where I met Kenny Omega in my costume at the meet and greet. I made the Fake Nick doll superkick him right in the face, and there was a funny interaction that ensued.  Lots of comments in the videos state that people think the costume is weird, but it is all in good fun. I just love dressing up and making people laugh and smile!

As the weekend in Long Beach ended, I realized I came full circle. What a year it had been. Having only been a fan of wrestling in general for about five years total, in July of 2016, I was just discovering the Young Bucks, NJPW, Being The Elite, and other non-WWE wrestling for the first time. And now in July of 2017 I had just been featured ON the show that helped open up a new world of wrestling to me. It was the craziest and most surreal feeling. I feel really lucky to have met my favorite tag team who seem to be crossing more into mainstream pop culture each and every day.

And as the saying goes, you can love them or you can hate them. But why hate two such innovative, creative, and all around nice people who have given us a glimpse of how fun watching wrestling can be. Or you can disagree with me completely, which is fine, but then I guess you can just…SUCK IT.

Author’s Note: You can call me a Young Bucks mark but…“I AM NOT A YOUNG BUCKS FAN GIRL!” ☹ – Urg, I guess this long a#@ article may be evidence to the contrary even though all this is based on concrete evidence and facts. I could have made this into a topic of a thesis paper if I was still in school, haha.

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About Kelsi Schreiber