Just over a year ago, Henry Sosa was a wrestling fan who had never watched Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling (TJPW). He remembers beginning to watch wrestling around 2009, before stopping a couple of years later. Then in 2019, when AEW was picking up steam with their Dynamite TV show, he got “really” back in.
But things changed last summer when he was scrolling TikTok. He saw a video from Ninakunii, a creator on the platform who edits together videos of wrestlers from Japan’s women’s wrestling scene.
Set to “Tearz,” a classic cut from the Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 album, it showed Miyu Yamashita leveling opponents with wheel kicks, tossing them across the ring with German Suplexes, and above all, looking pretty badass. Sosa became one of the 11,000 who liked that video and went off to watch TJPW himself.
“It felt like a group of misfits that went against the grain of what was considered “good wrestling” in Japan and managed to carve out a niche in its market,” said Sosa. “Even when it’s not great there’s always this [sense] of sincerity that I don’t see anywhere else that keeps me coming back.”
Following in the footsteps of Ninakunii, who put Sosa on to TJPW, he created his own account for edits called oceansoup65. Here, he covered the exciting, wild, surprising, and weird sides of TJPW. The videos have garnered over 860,000 likes and millions of views. An August video of the promotion’s current champion, Mizuki, went viral in August. With more than 400,000 likes alone, the video was set to K-pop group Girls’ Generation’s 2009 hit “Gee,” Mizuki’s unique move set was being exposed to a whole new group of people. “What promotion is she in? Where can I watch her?” one viewer commented. “[I don’t know] how I got here but I’m not complaining,” another said.”
Just as TikTok helped Sosa discover new wrestling, he was doing the same for a whole new crowd.
“I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I would make something with a million views now, but it also feels awesome that I’ve introduced so many people to a promotion that I find really special,” he said.
Whether you call them montages, highlights, or the commonly used term “edits,” manipulated clips of matches or wrestlers put together and laid over a music track is not a new practice. Many interviewed for this story recalled their early years on the internet, watching an early 2000s WWE match with Drowning Pool’s song “Bodies” set as the theme.
But in recent years, a new community of wrestling editors has popped up on TikTok. These creators match popular and niche wrestling with underground rap, experimental rock, R&B, K-pop, and about every other genre of music you can imagine. And they’re growing the popularity of wrestling, with numerous viral videos to date to show for it.
“You’ll have people that almost want to make it like a music video,” said 29-year-old Josh, who goes by Souper Liger on TikTok. “So, you’re hitting everything on the beat. And then some people kind of treat it as a showcase for the match and the music is secondary, which is also cool. You want to let the match breathe a little more.”
Souper Liger describes himself as a big music person and a lifelong wrestling fan. One of his earliest wrestling memories was being sad that his two older brothers were able to attend WWF In Your House 26: Rock Bottom and he wasn’t (he was three at the time). For him, his videos are simply putting together the matches he likes with the music he likes. But it’s not as simple a process as picking any two as a combination.
“You can’t just put any song with any match,” he said. “But sometimes you can get really creative with it. I can get really creative with my choices. I love just [how] old-school hip-hop always fits wrestling like a glove. But there will be times where I’ll just go through old anime themes, or like K-pop songs.”
What is it that matches Eddie Guerrero with Pharell’s “Frontin’,” or puts the three-way match this year between Mercedes Mone, Hazuki, and AZM to the song “Aint’ It Funny” by Danny Brown? One word came up when speaking to many TikTok creators: “Vibe.” It’s hard to place your finger on it, but the “vibe” that a match and a song give off is what matches them together for a video.
“I don’t think I’m doing anything very difficult,” creator Club Lucha said. “But sometimes I do think I mess up and regret using certain songs with certain matches. Sometimes you think it matches the vibe, but it really doesn’t match the vibe that much.”
There are often some re-emerging trends in the type of music you see in TikTok edits. Rappers gained fame through the internet age through genres like cloud rap and rage, like Playboi Carti, Destroy Lonely, and Duwap Kaine. Often also utilized are rappers JPEGMAFIA — a rapper who has wrestling references sprinkled throughout his songs and uses the line “You think you know me?” from Edge’s entrance theme as his producer tag — and Westside Gunn, who was seen front row at AEW All In London 2023, and has a song titled “Eddie Kingston.”
Not everybody likes the edits
Wrestling edits TikTok will always grapple with something that hurts any edit community: copyright takedowns.
Souper Liger frequently made edits for NJPW, a promotion he is a big fan of. But one day, a large swath of his videos on the promotion were removed for copyright reasons.
“That was like one of the most heartbreaking things because I’ve had people in my comments saying ‘Oh, you really remind me to watch stuff that’s not WWE or AEW, that there’s more wrestling out there,’” he recalled. “When those copyright strikes hit I was kind of gutted.”
Copyright strikes can not only get videos removed but can cause an entire account to get deleted as well. A prolific name in the edit community, Twinvercetti, recently had his account taken down for these reasons. The thousands of followers he gained, plus the dozens of videos he edited were all wiped from the platform. Twinvercetti could not be reached for comment for this story.
Most TikTok videos are discovered by viewers through the “For You Page,” a part of the app that uses algorithms to put curated content towards each viewer. Something as general as enjoying cooking or cat videos could get on your feed. Or, something as specific as an interest in The Hardy Boyz matches from the mid-2000s.
The “For You Page” is part of what attracts millions of users to the platform every day. In the U.S., TikTok is currently ranked sixth on Apple’s App Store, with recently launched Threads being the only social media platform ranked above it.
But the “For You Page” is tailored to topics, not creators. Because of this, it’s hard for people to attract audiences that can stay on the lookout for their content specifically. This means that when your account gets terminated, it might go unnoticed by many who enjoyed your videos before.
“TikTok’s a hard platform to keep people around on,” said Frogsplaaash, a creator based out of Dublin, Ireland. “TikTok in itself is an app that is very based on getting what you get on your ‘For You Page’ and just scrolling.”
A community created, and many influenced
There is a never-ending flow of evidence that wrestling edits on TikTok influence the viewership of wrestling. Similarly, many creators are encouraged to start by seeing other creators. Souper Liger and Frogsplaaash both found themselves beginning to edit videos after discovering the same creator: Club Lucha.
Club Lucha’s work focuses mainly on Lucha Libre wrestling. He first started watching wrestling around 2004. He caught episodes of Smackdown, because it aired on UPN, and discovered AAA wrestling through his parents’ subscription to Spanish-speaking channel Galavision.
Being able to speak both English and Spanish, Club Lucha aimed to help English fans understand lucha — a scene in wrestling that he felt was “very underrepresented, especially online.”
“I’m very honored that people reference me as an influence to them,” he said. “I think that wrestling edits are a very good way to share matches or promotions that you really like personally, or that you think others should check out. It’s really just a way to show you’re a fan of what a performer or promotion is doing.”
Frogsplaaash found himself obsessed with wrestling before he could even read. Much like his long-standing passion for wrestling is his love for music, curating playlists and even creating tunes of his own before.
Putting those two things together has caused an impact on others that is hard for him to understand at times. It’s possible that his videos have passed on a wrestling obsession for some who didn’t even watch before.
“I’ve gotten a few people telling me that I got them into wrestling from completely new. It means the world to me, and it’s kind of scary to hear that. I don’t know, that’s just an insane thought. It kind of blows my mind.”