More than a decade ago, Jensen Karp, a former rapper turned writer – Kanye West apparently still owes him $300 – took a job working for WWE’s creative team. As a lifelong fan of pro wrestling, he thought it would be the gig of a lifetime. Turns out, he was wrong.
“I wrote ‘WWE Raw,’ traveled on the road, flew in a private plane with Vince McMahon,” he says. “I enjoyed parts of it; working with guys like [John] Cena, [Paul] Heyman and Goldust was a dream come true…but it wasn’t for me. It was my first time in a real writers’ room, I had a difficult time with the travel, the daily grind. So I left after about six months.”
There was another unforeseen consequence: Being a part of the wrestling business meant he could no longer be a fan – remember that old saying about seeing how the sausage is made? – and he stopped watching almost entirely, until he attended his first Pro Wrestling Guerrilla show in 2010, and instantly reconnected with everything he loved about pro wrestling.
“I loved it right away, seeing guys like the Young Bucks, watching with fans who didn’t care about backstage rumors or TV ratings, only the wrestling itself,” he says. “It was a bunch of guys having a good time; there was something beautiful about the connection they had with the wrestlers, and the positivity in the room.”
It was at another PWG show that Karp also came to meet two particularly positive fans, Des Delgadillo and Rudy Chinchilla, who had formed a fast – and incredibly unique – friendship through indie wrestling. Delgadillo, who has been totally blind since he was a child, loved the sport, but couldn’t actually see anything that was happening in the ring. So he relied on Chinchilla to call the action for him…and it was a role Rudy relished.
“I was standing in the back at a show, and I heard this kid yelling throughout the whole night. I was like, ‘Is that a new announcer?’ so I walked over and watched the two of them,” Karp says. “I quickly noticed his best friend was blind, and right then, I wanted to know more about them – their friendship is amazing, and they’re such great kids.”
That friendship forms the crux of Rudy & Des, a new documentary Karp directed and financed. Working with frequent Kevin Smith collaborators Scott Mosier and Zak Knutson – who produced the film – and New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert, who wrote the music, he follows the two through a Ring of Honor live event, explores their special bond and shows them living out their dreams as indie wrestling celebs (Chinchilla, who studied hours of wrestling film so he could know the names of all the moves, hopes to become a ring announcer once he’s done with college).
And, of course, it’s also an ode to the very thing that brought the two together in the first place: Pro wrestling. After all, Karp is a fan, first and foremost.
“This is 100-percent a love letter to the community I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of,” he says. “I want people to know these kids, because their story is part of that community. Like I said, there’s something beautiful happening in indie wrestling right now.”