Friday, February 28, 2020

Five Years

I acknowledge my blogging anniversary every year because I think every year is an accomplishment and has something worth celebrating. However, five years feels like a big deal. For me, at least. Barbaric Brawn is over eight years old. Beefcakes of Wrestling just celebrated ten years. Ringside is over eleven. And Wrestling Arsenal is even older. So, five years is no world's record but it’s still a longish time.

Five years already? Let me celebrate myself!

A lot happens over five years. Like what? Let me recap five things for five years.

Five years of ...

1. Posting a new story at least twice a month.

I’ve shared 193 stories by my count, although those weren’t all original to the past five years. It’s been eight years since Bard graciously posted Flag vs. Flag on his group. As I’ve mentioned, I used to be really far ahead. Now, I’m finishing stories at the very last minute. But finished is finished, right? It just means more typos and less polish as I’m not going back and re-reading and refining.

If you were wondering why no "Preview" posts the past couple of months, that's why. I had nothing to preview!

For 2019, teaming up Jae and Xaq against two hot hunks in tag action was the winner. The Cave: The Adventures of SuperStar 17 is the most viewed by the narrowest of margins over The Cave 0: Beginnings. The latter got a big boost from Telemachus making this blog his "Link of the Week". When his readers come here, they want to start at the beginning and that's either The Cave 1 or The Cave 0.

Jae and Xaq teamed up to win the year.

The origins of The Cave got a boost to number two.

Bane of My Existence 2 was next. Readers usually like my superhero stories and I think they're especially appealing to the new Telemachus readers. Beau rounds out the top five with his stories against Keith and Lethal Lee Evans landing at fourth and fifth. Last year's champ just keeps on rolling as his journey continues. Guys do love seeing the big Texan get humiliated.

Hero stories usually do pretty well.

Beau's rematches against Keith
started the year with a bang.

Beau's run-in with Lee was very readable.

The only other stories I'll call out are CLAW 7 and Rival Pro Wrestling 5. Neither series is particularly popular, probably because they're outside the main universe. The blog is called The Cave, after all, so non-Cave are bound to suffer. There's a reason that Cody's guest appearances are the biggest Route 69 and Rival stories to date. However, both these chapters landed in the 2019 top ten and hit well above their weight class, so there might be something more to them.

2. Turning hot hunks into (hopefully) hotter wrestlers.

Story results are driven by many factors but comments are often driven by the models and how I've used them. To jumpstart myself in 2020, I've brought in multiple newbies and you guys are responding well. I noticed how well most of the Encounters stories did last year, so I want to balance fan favorites with hot new studs. Below are just a few of the Year Five newbies that I like the most.

I'm not particularly competitive (a fact which drove my parents nuts as a kid in swimming where I reacted the same whether I finished first or fifth or tenth). I'm more interested in doing my best and non-plussed if others do better. I've been very happy to share how I write stories or alter images or make GIFs or anything else I do. And so, I'm really pleased that the Editing Images 101 went better than I expected. Now, I expect to see some output, guys!

3. Reviews, screen grabs and GIFs.

Since I started posting only new content, I’ve posted between 11 and 18 times per month. It's a fairly regular cadence. I’ve tried more and I’ve had a few longer gaps but if I can post every 2-3 days, it all seems to work out well. The stories give me three posts a month (two stories + Who's Who) so I aim to develop 10 other posts and fall a little on either side of that.

My approach to reviews remains pretty consistent. I still mainly use the same five-part format - Intro, Wrestlers, Overview, Action, Close - with ten images/GIFs. Overall, it takes about two hours when I consider the time needed to watch, write, create images and post. And there are a lot of videos that leave me with nothing to say so I need to start fresh when that happens.

My first GIFs appeared in this review ...
Guido Genatto vs. Chet Chastain.

In 2019, I mainly reviewed videos from Muscleboy Wrestling (25), Wrestler4Hire (24), and BGEast (23). They're remarkably close because they tend to have more variety and are more accessible or affordable to me.

The clear winner was Alex Costa vs. Ryan Sparks
with more than double any other 2019 review.

Something about Braden vs. Meat grabbed you ...
it was BGEast's biggest of 2019 by far.

I'm not surprised Dark Detective vs. Vengeance was
W4H's top 2019 review ... even I re-watch the GIFs.

I do try to alternate coverage but it's not always easy. Thunders Arena's inconsistency and high prices have made me more cautious. Like earlier this month, they had a good deal (spend $65 get Mat Rats 123 for free). I picked out two $33.50 videos, so it'd be three matches for $67. Instead, one of the videos was randomly "discounted" which took me just below $65 so I'd either have to buy a fourth video or forego the freebie. I ended up buying zero, so no Simpson or Mercury coverage.

Flirt Club was my top 2019 Thunders Arena review.

With UCW, it's the reverse. Their consistency is the trouble. I struggle on what to buy as things look very similar. Even when I do buy, I then struggle with what to say unless the video has something unique or remarkable in it. Axel vs. Gabe Steel was unique and thus remarkably popular (for me) on the blog and Twitter with 100 likes and 23 retweets (that's high engagement for just 2,000 Twitter followers). I need to do more of this, obviously. Joe at Ringside writes about every match, so I think UCW is covered really well, but I wouldn't mind doing a few more reviews about them.

I tweeted this GIF and folks really liked it.

4. Cavey Awards.

I’ve given out 104 Cavey Awards. 34 different wrestlers have won an award as a Favorite Wrestler and an additional 33 have been recognized for being in a Favorite Match. The Caveys started out as just a silly post series that filled a few December spots when I’m too busy to do much else. However, I really do like doing them and the response has been really positive.

Scrappy has the most with six Caveys, which is probably not surprising as this really is his era. Chase Addams and Ty Alexander are next with five. Elite Eliot and Guido Genatto each have four. And there are quite a few guys with three, including Alex Waters, Austin Cooper/Frey, Austin Tyler, Blayne, Bruno/Nero Angelo, Chet Chastain, Duke Russo, and Kid Karisma. Now, that’s a hot list.

Eight promotions have won something for either Favorite Match (43 awards) or Favorite Promotion (17 awards). In five years of Caveys, BGEast and Wrestler4Hire have 13 each, with Muscleboy Wrestling and Thunders Arena grabbing 10.

Six awards ... and still probably not enough.

Moves like The Willbreaker win Caveys.

I'm guessing that Eliot's not done winning.

5. You!

Your viewing. Your commenting. Your emails. Your links. Your re-tweets. All your support no matter how it came through. I told someone who was asking about blogging not to get into it if he's the type who needs constant external validation. My exact words were, "Don't go into this looking for comments/positive reinforcement." You guys, however, constantly prove me wrong.

I feel very lucky when I get comments or emails. I see blogs on many topics that are much bigger than mine with zero comments. I'm not sure why so many of you chime in so often but I'm sure happy that you do. Maybe because I've been so vocal about their importance. Or maybe because I respond. Or maybe it's as simple as the fact that I ask you to comment at the end of every non-story post. I don't know but I sure do appreciate it.

I love getting messages!

So thanks for five years of visits.

And comments.

And just being a nice bunch of guys.

So that's it.

Five years in the books and this is the start of my sixth year. I do feel a break coming with stories. I think that I can get to #200 in June 1st, which I wanted to be Cody's 30th birthday but that can't happen now. It's canon that Cody's birthday happens in early June and The Cave will still be in January or February by then with Beau and Buck still in town on vacation. I guess he'll get to be 29 for another year or two. Lucky guy.



  1. "Something about Braden vs. Meat grabbed you ...
    it was BGEast's biggest of 2019 by far."

    I guess we had to re-read it many times until we believed that Braden could be a heel ;-) For some reason and even with BG last efforts in that sense I still find it hard to buy.

    Happy birthday in any case!

  2. Congratulations on 5 years. Looking forward to another 50. I first found your cave series on another site, then lost track. Glad I finally found it again.

    I like your thoughts on comments. That was the most frustrating thing with my first web site. I could never get comments so never knew what people liked and what they didn't.

    So far I like most things you write (smile)

    1. Thank you. Means a lot.

      I’m glad you found the blog, too, especially the Firsts post.

  3. Congratulations Alex, for five years. Thanks for everything.

    1. Appreciate that. Look forward to your five year anniversary (in a few years).

  4. Congrats on the 5 years, man. Here's to the next 5!

  5. Here is another Congrats on your five years of work!
    One of the best things on this blog are your reviews. I find the reviews to be insightful and best of all, completely honest, and thats important.
    Here's to another five years!

    1. Thanks, Ray. I’m glad you find the reviews useful and honest! Those are both goals of mine.