Let me tell you a story…are you sitting comfortably? I’ll begin…
Twenty plus years ago, the setting is in Wales. A promotion is hosting a wrestling event, who’s wrestling on it? I can’t recall, but they aren’t the focus of this story.
Two men are doing battle in the ring, the fan favourite is beating down the heel the fans are cheering and then the referee is abruptly knocked down. The fan favourite hits his finisher and makes the pin but there is no referee to issue the count.
Suddenly from nowhere, a child who was sitting in the front row leaps into the ring, he knows what the referee does, afterall he witnessed it from the Saturday afternoon show on television, “World of Sport” and makes the count, one, two…the heel kicks out realising this kid shouldn’t be in this ring. The referee recovers, gently directs the kid away from the action and match continues to its conclusion. The referee and the wrestlers raise the kid’s hand for enjoying the show before giving him back to his irrate mother.
The point of this story is that that kid got so emotionally involved in the action, he wanted to be part of it, he wanted to learn more about it and he fell in love with wrestling, in short, “He Got it”.
Thing is, that kid isn’t alone in his thinking, don’t get me wrong, children shouldn’t be jumping into any wrestling ring regardless of how excited they get. But my point is children across the country fall in love with wrestling nearly everytime they see a wrestling event live.
Wrestling on television sparks the flame, I mean how many interviews have you read or heard the wrestler interviewed saying, I got inspired when I saw this wrestler, or I saw that happen on television? A few right. It is when they start going to a live events or they start training is when the love with wrestling develops.
Now, let me backtrack, I used a phase earlier, “He Got It”, I discovered this phrase in a WWE book in 2001, “The History of Wrestlemania”, it was referring to Mr T in his match at Wrestlemania 2 with the late Roddy Rowdy Piper, it used it again when it was referring to Mike Tyson in his exchanges with Steve Austin leading up to Wrestlemania 14. It meant those individuals understood what was required from them and how much fun Pro Wrestling is when you just embrace it.
Where am I going with this, well, recently the term, “Fake” has been thrown around regarding wrestling. Hell this isn’t new, any wrestling fan among people who hasn’t seen a wrestling event has proberly heard someone say that already. But this time the term came from UFC owner, Dana White while tweeting during a lacklustre PPV.
Wrestling fans were so annoyed at these comments that images of horrific wrestling injures flooded social media within hours asking, “is this fake?!” in response to his comment.
Now this was a brilliant move by White, no seriously it was, after all, the two main talking points after the PPV wasn’t how disappointing the show was overall or how awfully long the event was. No, it was how incredible Ronda Rousey is (as if we didn’t already know that she is as dangerous as she is desirable) and that the UFC Owner insulted Pro Wrestling.
Now, whether he hates wrestling or not, his opinion on it is irrelevant, maybe he doesn’t “Get It” and I mention him on this article merely as an example, there are people out there who will never understand wrestling or grasp just how infectious and truly inspiring it is and that’s fine.
Personally, when I had a serious facial injury, my doctor’s said, “see a therapist or talk about it to a group”. Within days, I turned to wrestling, armed with my mobile phone I produced article after article (some written while on several painkillers) and thanks to social media I knew what was happening in the wrestling world. In a sense I chose my own therapy, wrestling.
Am I alone in this? No, I’m not. In my column I have spoke about how I travel across the UK and speak to fans while at wrestling events. I am always fascinated when I talk to wrestling fans, especially how much passion they have for the sport also when they tell you how they got into wrestling and sometimes, amazingly, they tell you how wrestling has helped them in there lives.
I have spoke to men and women who have said to me in my travels or after the events we have seen, that wrestling helped them gain strength through broken marriages, abusive relationships, family disputes, neck injuries and even life threatening conditions. Amazing right? And to think people assume it’s two, maybe four or more wrestlers in a ring then you speak to people who have had or going through traumatic experiences and then you realise sometimes it can be something so much more.
But, on the flipside, spare a thought of the wrestlers who have been injured or worse, died for wrestling. Could you say in clear conscience that it’s fake then? Wrestlers who have bled, bruised, battered, spent days in hospital, had broken bones, career threatening injuries? Go on, say that wrestling is fake again.
Is there any other sport that involves the individual involved to do so much? Not just do you need to have the physical conditioning, regardless of shape. If you can spend ten, fifteen or more minutes in the ring exchanging holds, linking an armbar to a headlock, developing and setting up a working match then damn. If you can spend time in the ring entertaining multiple strangers while they are hurling abuse at you then also damn. If you endure and are able to withstand the pain when you are chopped, irish whipped to a turnbuckle, bodyslammed, clotheslined, suplexed then once again damn. I honestly can’t think of a sport that is such an assault on the human body and soul but the reward for these wrestlers who do this and entertain you? I can’t describe what exhilaration they must get when everything goes right and the rewards for the fans are obvious.
We live in an amazing age right now where social media has united wrestlers and wrestling fans across the world. Stars you may have only heard whispers about previously, you can now see them on YouTube. Articles, magazines and podcasts are everywhere now, giving fans new insights and new ways to inspire them to see new promotions. They have even let fans know about new stars who may have never been interviewed before and even let fans know what training schools are recommended. Never before has the wrestling business been so accessible and never before has it been so successful all over the UK.
For something to be declared or stated as fake, it’s amazing just how beneficially real the impact more often than not that this sport has been to fans, to the wrestlers and anyone who has been involved in it.
Thanks to wrestling shows all over this country, children, and adults for that matter are falling in love with wrestling for the first time and because of that we will see more and more generations of new wrestlers to come.
PS: To the wrestlers involved in that match and my maw, I’m still sorry.