In reality, the change was brought on by the fact that fans had grown tired of the days of former football players and bodybuilders lumbering around the ring, and were looking for a more fast-paced, exciting alternative. This paved the way for local breakout stars like Cannon, Sheik Ariya Daivari, Darin Corbin, and “Playboy” Pete Huge -- all Minnesota-bred performers who were athletic, entertaining, and full of personality -- to catch fire with crowds and showcase the new “look” of Minnesota's independent wrestling scene.
And the trend wasn’t just happening locally. In addition to regional wrestling shows attracting new talent and larger crowds, new national leagues like Ring of Honor and Chikara began to establish a major footprint with smaller, more athletic wrestlers performing moves that no one could have dreamed of 20 years ago.
Around this same time, MTV decided to get into the wrestling game themselves by creating Wrestling Society X, a show that would follow the athletic, counter-culture trend that was beginning to take hold throughout the country. One of the cornerstone stars of that experiment: Arik Cannon.
While the show would fold after just one season, Cannon was able to gain valuable exposure and bank some cash that he could invest to build up the wrestling industry in his home state.
"When I started wrestling, my goal was to be able to pay my bills as a wrestler," he recalls. "I did the MTV thing and made some money, and decided at that point that I wanted to come back [to Minnesota] and do something different that wasn’t being done in wrestling."
The thought would eventually lead him to start promoting shows under the F1RST Wrestling banner, before ultimately taking the leap and creating the circus that is Wrestlepalooza.