When I watched the WWE, and it had an ‘F’, I always had to defend myself for being a fan of it. The comment that always got me was “Anyone can play fight!” If I ever faced those people knowing what I know now about the sheer hard work it takes, the knocks, the accidents…. Yes, anyone can play fight, but it takes a person of sheer will and determination to become a wrestler.
Could I be exaggerating? I think anyone who has trained to wrestle will have a wry smile on their face when faced with the thought of my statement exaggerating the work they have had to put in, in fact, it could be construed more as an understatement.
The reason that I talk about the hard work of training is that there may be a lot of people reading this who are toying with the thought of joining a wrestling gym and becoming the next big thing in wrestling. I would like to take this opportunity to give you a few home truths about what it takes to become a wrestler and perhaps arm you with a little insight, to help you succeed. Any wrestler could tell you these facts, but I have taken this opportunity to help those who aren’t in contact with a wrestler.
First off, I am going to talk about the initial motivation you have to join a wrestling gym. Whatever it is, be prepared to experience something more than what you first thought it was going to entail. If you walk in thinking you are going to be the next Undertaker or thinking that wrestling is easy, I’m afraid you are in for a very big shock. If you have thoughts of your own glory, working for the WWE or making a living, I strongly suggest you rethink your reasons, British wrestling is not Pop Idol, I’ll repeat that, British wrestling is not Pop Idol!
Seriously, the reason I am urging you to lower your expectations is that there is a very long way to go from your first lesson to a show. There is a lot to learn and it isn’t done in a day, in fact you will be starting on a journey that has a lesson in it every week. It could be years before you are good enough to understand the game and consistently entertain a crowd. You may have in your mind that wrestling is painless because it is “fake”, well I will tell you now, the holds hurt, being hit hurts and when you are powerbombed it really hurts. Until you are able to condition your body to the stresses you will be putting yourself through and the techniques of shock absorption are second nature to you, the sheer willpower to get back up and take it again will have to do.
With that in mind you have decided to join a gym. You will most likely do a seminar where you are taken through the fundamentals of wrestling, the first one being fitness and warming up, preparing your body for the rigours of training. I will assure everyone who hasn’t trained for a rigorous sport before, it is going to hurt, and this is where you will begin to see where determination will come into play in wrestling. When I walked into the gym on my seminar, I had decided that I was going to take everything that was thrown at me and I would prove to the trainers that I had the mettle to do everything they could. Now, considering I was grossly overweight, a smoker and I have spent most of my 20s sitting around drinking in a pub, I pushed myself beyond the limits of my body, in fact there was one point where I thought I was going to pass out. However, I succeeded in doing what I needed to do because I was determined to succeed. Not everyone is going to walk into a gym in as bad a shape as I did, but still, it will affect you, mostly the next morning. The next morning after your first day’s training is your perfect indicator. Your body will be dead, and anyone who said they didn’t hurt badly after their first session is lying, but if you think to yourself that it was worth it because you enjoyed it so much, then that is the point when you know wrestling is for you.
I’m sure everyone has read about some of the hi-jinks wrestlers get up to, yes wrestlers have a lot of fun and they make fun of each other a lot, but this is borne out of a closeness with each other and a trusting bond that builds between them. What you don’t see behind this jovial exterior, that it is mirrored perfectly by the maturity that is displayed in the ring and when training starts. When you are working together in the ring, the most important thing is entertaining the crowd, but you should always do it safely. It isn’t very entertaining when you break your neck, the show stops as the paramedics take you away. This is why wrestlers are trained and focus hard on the job they are doing at that time; this develops a mature mind.
With this in mind, when joining a gym it would be wise to take everything you do seriously, if you are unsure, ask questions and make sure that you are adult about taking criticism. I learnt once that if someone points out a flaw and you get mad about it, it’s usually because you know yourself it is wrong, but tried to ignore it. You should also not give yourself airs, as a trainee you are not too good to do anything, don’t ever think you are, for example I am the heaviest guy in the gym and it takes a lot of effort for the other trainees to pick me up. In shows my weight counts, against these guys I won’t be break falling too much, but if I used that as an excuse not to bump, not to train and not keep myself up on being safe I could be in serious trouble when I meet that guy who can lift me with ease. I won’t know how to land, I won’t even know the moves they want to do and the show suffers. So I do the moves, I practice my break falls and I do whatever it takes to make the company look good.
Which brings me neatly onto the next point, are you a team player? Because if you think you can walk into wrestling and make an impact as a one man show you are very much mistaken. A wrestler in a company is one cog in the machine, never think that you are more important than the company you work for. If you prefer Deathmatch over co-op mode in your favourite computer game, then it is highly unlikely that wrestling is for you, because you prefer winning over the enjoyment of working with someone else to achieve a goal. This is the critical aspect of wrestling, there are no show boaters, no lone guns and no mavericks, it may be cool to think of yourself like that, but it will not get you onto shows.
The biggest problem to a team is when someone takes their role too personally, it would be best if you can separate your own personality from your in ring personality. This deters resentful feelings when something bad happens to your character, because that is all it is, a character, it is not you! The only thing a wrestler should take personally is the fact he has not done what he has set out to do, which is entertaining the fans. If you find the fact you have lost the belt heart breaking or not got that title shot you think you deserve, take a closer look at yourself and ask if you are taking it all too personally. A good way of preventing this is to develop a wrestling persona, which has absolutely no resemblance to your own personality.
Wrestling is not for everybody; it takes the right motivation, determination, maturity and team skills to succeed. Only the base principles of the wrestling mindset have been covered, there are nuances that can’t be told in text, and they can only be learnt. I think that anyone can and should try wrestling once, if that is what they really want to do, but this article is a guide to what’s expected of you and to give you something to think about while you’re having fun, and wrestling is great fun!
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