The worst thing about wrestling discussion is that there is so much to talk about it is almost impossible to prioritise the issues in importance. So I am going to have to talk about issues that are close to my heart, don’t worry guys, the KSW name dropping will be kept to a minimum, in fact it would be best to distance my opinions from K-Star right now. All I am writing about is what I think personally about issues in the UK scene; mostly I will be talking philosophically.
So what is my first subject?
Well I would like to talk about gym camaraderie; it is an important aspect of any team-based venture. I first learnt the word playing soccer in a Sunday league; I was 16 and was the best linesman/sub that existed at the time. It was a great experience as I got to learn from people a lot older than me about many team issues, like working as a team, playing unselfishly and most importantly camaraderie. In fact, I think wrestling is pretty close to football, with regards to the fact that you get team players and those players who will sell themselves to the highest bidder, thank God the UK scene doesn’t have agents!
So how does camaraderie work in a wrestling gym? Simple, the fact is that it should contain people who are not working just for themselves, all wrestlers should put their personal goals aside and relent to the good of the company. My Father told me a few things as I grew up; one of them was “Treat ‘em mean keep ‘em keen”, but that’s an aside, the important one was “You get out whatever you put in” and this is more than true. If you walk into a gym, don’t do the training and refuse to sell for an opponent it is highly unlikely that you will get a match and if you do, anyone you fight will not really feel happy about it.
As a mature student, walking in to a gym full of teenage trainees, I was very worried that I would have to endure childish antics and a lack of discipline, I was pleasantly surprised about how wrong I was. I now know that a good part of training in wrestling is to get your mindset straight and a lot of the kids I work with are mature well beyond their years and are focused on entertaining the crowds, and when two wrestlers succeed in that goal then the camaraderie forms. Every wrestler’s first goal should be to entertain and to achieve it with someone else, builds a link of trust and mutual respect that is hard to find elsewhere.
Camaraderie is an effect that grows when people enjoy being around other people and working towards the same goal. So as a wrestler, it is your duty to make sure that camaraderie exists. It cannot exist if you are arguing in the gym, and I’m not talking about constructive arguments, as they are for the good of the company. It cannot exist if you have resentment towards another wrestler as that causes factions and a split within the group harmony.
Here are my suggestions to building camaraderie:
1. As a wrestler, focus yourself on the entertainment of fans and not your own personal glory. Fame and fortune come usually from hard work and not who you
can step on.
2. Treat anyone you wrestle with respect and talk about how you are going to make the audience respond and things that you will do or won’t do.
3. Recognise the command structure within the gym, the promoter is the person with the most say, then the trainers will also probably have a say in what goes down, argue your ideas, but accept whatever decision they make. Remember that they are more experienced at the game than you are.
4. Find a constructive way to criticise other wrestlers, remember that it is your opinion and can be totally wrong. Instead of just saying “You’re doing this wrong” try find ways to help them improve, it’s easy to pick out the problems, but it takes something special to help someone out with their problems. You will find that people will be eager to help you with your problems. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t.
5. Get to know people by their real names, externally they may be “The Savage Brute”, but they are also called Paul, it is a lot more personal and having someone know your secret identity, where as everyone else knows you by your wrestling name, brings you closer to them.
It is, of course, a lot harder for independent workers to build camaraderie; however, making the right impression and treating people with the same respect you expect would mean more bookings and more wrestlers who want to wrestle you.
Finally, I personally don’t like selfish wrestlers, and it is obvious to me who they are, they are the ones who distance themselves from the trainees, they are the ones who walk into the gym, do their training with a regular partner and then go home. They are the ones who are proud of how stiff they are, and ignore the pleas of another wrestler to soften up. They are the first to criticise and the last to offer a solution and to be honest their input usually involves something that would improve their own overness.
Then there are the wrestlers who unfortunately begin to believe their own hype, I have a friend who suffered this and he told me it was the most regrettable time of his whole career. The lesson he has taught me from his own experience is that when greatness is thrust upon you, always stay humble.
So, be humble, be respectful, be gregarious and mostly have fun and you will love wrestling even more than you do now.