A Wrestler's Perspective: Is it Fake?
Professional wrestling is one of the most frowned upon sports out there today. What did I just say? Wrestling is a sport? That is correct, but it is also incorrect because wrestling is sports-entertainment. Professional wrestling has evolved a lot over the years. It went from being a legitimate sport that was very similar to the likes of professional boxing. Slowly it changed over time when the very first showmen arrived to the sport in the likes of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, among many others.
Now to everyone out there that are NOT wrestling fans, you know who "The Nature Boy" is, I know you know who the "Macho Man" is, and even if you weren't interested in wrestling, you just like everyone else was captivated by "Hulkamania". The late 70s and on into the 80s is when wrestling became a show instead of a sport. But there is always that "sports" factor that everyone seems to forget. Now as everyone knows we had another HUGE addition to the entertainment when we were introduced to the attitude era. The attitude era showcased many talents but the ones who stand out the most would be "Stone Cold Steve Austin" and of couse Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The first time I ever seen The Rock I said "He's going to be in movies one day", and low and behold I am right. He had the "It Factor". Over the years the sport has evolved to episodes consisting of 30 minutes of wrestling and an hour an a half of talking and storyline drama. As you see today, tons of wrestlers have either made the jump to movies, or they will take time off to film a movie and then come back "from an injury" The sport has evolved into sports-entertainment, and companies look for wrestlers that have "The Look", or they can talk well on the mic, or if they've a bodybuilder physique. But there are still a lot of people out there that like to watch a great match. That makes it quite hard for your average fan who has always had the dream of one day being a professional wrestler. Well I was one of those average fans who loved it so much, I would do whatever it takes to get into it. Fate somehow led me to a new independent promoter. He just started up a new company, and at the time I was in a broadcast production class so I worked out a deal to film a show, and put it onto a dvd. While in that process, I pursued what I really wanted. I wanted to be a Professional wrestler. So the day of filming, before the show, I payed to have training from a veteran who had been wrestling for a while. His methods were very "Old School" and when I say that I mean it was a lot tougher than what one would expect. All rings that you see have padding on the very top under the canvas. The amount of padding on the ring is different for every ring but the ring is made of steel rods, steel cables, and plywood. You didn't expect a wrestler to be falling onto that almost every single night without padding and not get injured did you?
So with that being said, as part of being the "New Guy", I had to help set up the ring. The first two times I got into the ring and trained, I trained in a ring with no padding. That's right, no padding. If you think that's bad, it gets worse. Part of my initial training was running the ropes, and running the ropes some more, and more and more and more until my lower back and my shoulder had turned purple, with their being no skin remaining. Throughout all of the rope running I would also be learning something called "Bumps", which is the fancy way of learning how to fall. When a guy gets clotheslined and falls to the mat, then gets right back up and takes another, he's getting knocked down, but it hurts a lot less when you know how to "Bump" and as soon as you get touched you can take yourself down, fall to where all of the pressure is placed evenly across the arm, shoulders, back, and legs. There's all kinds of bumps, anytime a wrestler falls to the mat, he is falling the best way he can so he does not get hurt. So anyway continuing my training, 3 hours in we are still going at it, and I haven't gotten to do ANYTHING that I got to see on tv. Then the session ends and on to the next session. Same thing, no wrestling, just learning how to fall and learning how to run to ropes. This is what I meant by "Old School". The old timers wanted to drill the basics into your head, beat the crap out of you, and see if you actually have what it takes. Well you have to crawl before you can walk right? I hated every second of it, but I was obsessed and I wasn't going to let that stop me. Then I stumbled upon my greatest find. I found a new trainer, who was not old school. I got to get into a ring that had padding, I got past all the initial training very quickly and actually started learning new moves my first day. There are many tricks to the trade, that's why many people consider wrestling an art. I learned at lot, but I didn't learn everything. The only way to learn everything is by getting out there and learning from the veterans in the locker room, and gaining experience in front of a crowd. A few years prior I had the honor of meeting Rob Van Dam before a show. I told him I wanted to be a wrestler, and he gave me the advise of being different. I needed to stand out. Then it came time for me to figure out what I was going to be, or who I was going to be. I didn't want to go out there as myself, wear tights and be the traditional wrestler. I thought about what RVD said to me "Be different", and that's what I did. I took a little bit from one of my biggest influences Sting, and a little bit from my favorite rock band Avenged Sevenfold and I created the character Synester.
I did a complete transformation to be Synester. I dyed my hair black, dyed my facial hair, wore black and white face paint, and got a complete new wardrobe from Hot Topic. I didn't want to be your traditional wrestler. Synester was almost complete, as everyone knows the entrance music is a key factor with a eerie character like this, I had to make the decision to choose Marilyn Manson for my music. Synester was complete. Time for my long awaited first match. This was a very special day for me, I got to have my first match in my hometown with friends and family in attendance. I was fortunate enough to get to meet and share the card with legend Bobby Eaton and TNA Star Eric Young.
So I was already overwhelmed, but I find out I get to open up the show with match number one. I was lucky enough to get to have my first match with my trainer. I knew weeks ahead of time so me and him could train together and practice things to do in our match. We created a bunch of "spots", which is a preplanned chain of moves to help further the match. There are always opening spots, ending spots and a few small momentum changing spots planned for every match. Depending on the wrestler you are working with, you may have a lot of spots, or you may wrestle someone who wants to improvise almost everything except for the opening and ending. That is why you always want to talk to who you are working with before the show. But almost the majority of our match was spots. Before the show we find out from the promoter how he want us to end the match, we factor that into our spots and prepare for our match. I was told we were given 17 minutes for our match. Think about that for a second.....How often do you see a match go over 5 minutes on RAW? What about 10? It doesn't happen very often does it? Well we're given 17 minutes, so we're going to use every minute we can. Now this match was for an independent promotion, which for those of you who aren't wrestling marks, an independent promotion is a small company run in small towns to crowds anywhere from 20 people to 500 people. In independent promotions theres not as much emphasis on entertainment like what you see on tv. You of course have "the good guy" versus "the bad guy", but theres not as much mic time, you see a lot more wrestling. So I have a lot of pressure on my shoulders. First match of the night, first match of my life, all this stuff to remember, about 150 people in the crowd, professionals are watching me on the monitor in the back, and I have 17 MINUTES! Well all goes as planned, almost. A few spots are missed, fixed on the fly by communicating in the ring. (Wrestlers talk to each other in the ring, next time you watch wrestling, watch in between moves, and other down periods when they'll talk to each other. Keep in mind the director don't want you to see them talking so you have to pay attention closely.) Then as fast as the match started, we got to one of the last spots, but it goes terribly wrong. My opponent goes for a suicide dive through the ropes and he hits me with a lot more force than i expected. I go down to the floor and crack my skull against concrete. Yes, I did just say concrete. We don't have the money like WWE does, we don't have mats on the outside of the ring in the indys, and because of that fact, I hit my head and I am out cold. But we have a match and fans, and 17 minutes! What do we do? The only thing that can be done and finish the match. He picks my lifeless body up and we proceed to the finishing spot. To make matters worse he drops me on my head again, and if I wasn't out before, I am now. He goes up for the planned finish which is where he goes up for the 450 splash, misses, and then I hit my finisher on him and get the win. At this point I'm laying on the mat looking up questioning whether that's how this match will end. Somehow as he jumps, I move and proceed to the finish. I ended up getting a concussion and despite many efforts to get me to go to the hospital, I never did. I stayed until the end of the show. I received a lot of compliments for my match. I did many more matches after this night. I went on to Main Event shows, Win the HCW Heartland Title, among working for many different promotions and many great people along the way. I have since quit the business because of many reasons. The wrestling business is a lot harder than what many would expect. Just starting out, you're lucky to get paid. If you are getting paid, you're only making enough to pay for gas and a cheeseburger along the way. Then all the countless nagging injuries, back, head, knees, wrists, it never ends. Would I want to do this for the rest of my life? Hell no. Do I regret any of it? I wouldn't trade it for anything. I got to live out my dream. Standing on the top rope holding a title having everyone in attendance cheering for you. Who wouldn't want that? Plus I found out many secrets along the way, and found out a lot of myths. Chairs, ladders, kendo sticks. You name it, they all hurt, no way around it. Punches are pulled. Sometimes they connect and they hurt, sometimes it misses terribly. They are "Working" with the other guy, their not trying to hurt him. It's an art form, not a sport. Yes there's the secret of blading that everyone knows about. There's pain the hard way. One wrong fall, and you have a broken friggin neck! These guys are professionals, and they have perfected their craft for years, have worked like crazy to get where there at, and are incredible athletes. It just gets frowned upon when someone says "Oh that's fake!" Let any wrestler slap you in the chest and tell me that's not real. Just take one bump, I dare you. The fact of the matter is wrestling is not pure sport, and if you watch, they don't claim to be. It's sports-entertainment, it's an athletic show. You can't expect them to perform almost every night and appear on television every week if they're really beating the crap out of each other do you? That's just terrible business. I would just like for people to actually appreciate the skill it takes to do what these guys do day in and day out, even with the criticism. That's why they're on the USA channel every week and you're not. Thanks for reading. Have a great night and a pleasant tomorrow.