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Should Professional Wrestlers Be Certified Before They Are Allowed to Wrestle?

Updated on January 12, 2018
Josh Gerry profile image

Josh Gerry is a well-traveled professional wrestling coach who has worked for such promotions as Ring of Honor, AML Wrestling, and more.

Is This An Issue?

The form of entertainment known as professional wrestling has always been popular. Sold out arenas, amphitheaters and stadiums are proof of this continuing popularity. Fans of this sport/entertainment frequently become so enamored with it that they cannot wait to start their own career as a professional wrestler. Other entertainment careers, such as acting and singing, are hard to get into and even harder to be successful in. Thousands of superstar hopefuls begin their journey into pro wrestling every year. Their optimism is no guarantee of success. While some take the recommended path and start their training at a credible training school, others cut corners and participate immediately with little or no training. The high risk of serious injury alone should be cause enough for professional wrestlers to be required to take and pass a complete training program before they are allowed to compete in any match.

John Cena of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has had numerous injuries in his career.
John Cena of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has had numerous injuries in his career.

Risk of Injury

The risk of serious injury is a reality in professional wrestling. Mistakes, accidents and mishaps are all too frequent. With proper training, the risk of injury can be reduced. Jumping into a wrestling ring without proper training endangers personal safety and the safety of other participants in the ring. Some wrestlers train for as long as two years before they feel ready to compete safely. In early 2012, an aspiring wrestler died while training in the Baltimore area. Professional wrestlers on the most popular television programs still have injuries even though they are well-trained and have been wrestling for years. Sid Vicious broke his leg. Steve Austin broke his neck. Vader’s eye was dislodged following a series of stiff blows. Several moves look like they can be imitated by just watching them. Most are much more difficult and intricate than they appear, requiring additional instruction on the proper way to initiate these moves. In these moves, an untrained wrestler is at risk for disastrous results.

Why Get Properly Trained?

  • Safety
  • Look Professional
  • Verification of Abilities
  • Properly Learn the Craft of Pro Wrestling
  • Increased Experience
  • Maximize Exposure


All too often, untrained wrestlers lack the level of experience to make a match look professional and competitive. Wrestling fans watch a lot of broadcast wrestling as well as attend professional wrestling events. There are certain moves and throws that these fans are very familiar with. Without proper training, those moves do not look right. The fans immediately notice the lack of skill and become disinterested in watching the rest of the match. This lack of interest in a particular wrestler can label a wrestler, or the promoter putting on the show, as unprofessional and “amateurish”. If fans do not feel they have received the product they paid for, they will not be back. This impacts not only the promotion but the wrestler as well. The wrestler will have a hard time finding places to wrestle because news of their inability will travel fast.

Backyard Wrestlers.
Backyard Wrestlers. | Source

Bryan Clark

Bryan Clark as Wrath in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) circa 1997.
Bryan Clark as Wrath in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) circa 1997.

Television Examples

In 1990, World Championship Wrestling, or WCW, placed Bryan Clark in a high profile match against one of their biggest superstars, Sid Vicious, on a live pay-per-view event. Pay-per-views are usually the biggest events in a company’s year. Clark had only had a few matches at that time and it showed in his match with Vicious. Clark was haunted by this event in his time in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) because the fans remembered this horrible match in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and he never really caught on after that. Clark later told his side of the event; “It was a terrible match but, like I said, I hadn’t been trained. I didn’t know what I was doing.” Some people will argue that The Hardy Boyz, Matt and Jeff Hardly, made it to World Wrestling Entertainment without proper training. Matt and Jeff Hardy took a route to stardom that will never be replicated. They turned their Trampoline Wrestling Federation to ECWF and then to WWE. They were also constantly broke and took insane risks in the ring that no one should attempt.

Should professional wrestlers complete a training program before they compete in the ring?

See results

Verification of Skills and Training

You can not become a police officer without taking a basic law enforcement training course. You are not able to become a college professor or instructor without a degree in your field of study or a teaching degree. You are not going to walk into a professional football team’s practice and instantly make the team. Professional wrestling should be no different. Having proper training will allow the business people, who produce wrestling shows, to verify that a person is properly trained. Being able to state what training school the wrestler attended can give them an immediate amount of credibility. Doctors frame their medical degrees and display them within their office for all to see. This display allows patients to verify and examine the doctor’s credentials, if they desire. In the world of professional wrestling, there is no such indicator available. Unless the wrestler has someone that can verify their talent level verbally, the promoter has nothing to go on. Some states, like Virginia, require wrestlers and promoters to obtain licenses to participate or promote professional wrestling events. Even though some states require this paperwork, the additional paperwork proving that an individual attended and completed a specific training program or school would provide more verification.

Holding Themselves Back

When an aspiring professional wrestler starts participating in matches before they are trained, they are only holding themselves back. Untrained wrestlers are learning the business of professional wrestling as they wrestle. This method is similar to on-the-job training in various other professions. The experience someone gains from wrestling matches is very educational. Wrestlers learn what works and what does not, they learn how crowds react, and they learn how to recover from mistakes in a match. Untrained wrestlers lose this experience because they are learning how to execute moves, reverses, and counters. All of this is learned in a proper training program. If someone is properly trained, instead of jumping in, they have a solid base of knowledge to work off of and could rise through the pro wrestling ranks faster.

Final Verdict?

There are numerous independent professional wrestling promotions around the country that will throw untrained individuals into a ring for a match. These individuals are putting their lives on the line and they are also putting the value and respect that others have for the professional wrestling business in danger. Fans know what real professional wrestling is and they know when someone has no idea what they are doing in the ring. If their own personal safety is not enough reason for them to seek this education, then the realization that they are holding themselves back from attaining a superstar status could be. Proper training is not required for a professional wrestler to wrestle a match but for all parties concerned, it should be.


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