During April of 2013, I went with a friend to Wrestlemania 29 at Metlife Stadium located in New Jersey. For those of you who don’t know, Wrestlemania is the Super Bowl of professional wrestling, and it was a spectacular extravaganza.
I remembered looking in awe at how far the wrestling business has grown, from hosting its events at Madison Square Garden in the 90s, to now hosting it at a professional football stadium that can hold more than 80,000 people!
I remembered seeing the introductions of my favorite wrestlers, with their music blaring thru the loudspeakers and the ring announcer saying: Now coming to the ring, from Miami, Florida, weighing in at 250 lbs. He is your current World Heavyweight Champion, THEEEE ROCKKKKKKKK.
As the Rock struts down that ramp, into the ring, climbs that turnbuckle, and raises his championship belt for the millions of fans to see.
How awesome would it be to have someone announce you like a professional wrestler wherever you go? Say whenever you head in for that critical job interview?
Ladies and gentlemen, coming thru that door, weighing in at a healthy 140 lbs. and a serviceable 5 foot 7, he is a HARD WORKER AND TRUE TEAM PLAYER, CALVIN “THE ULTIMATE YES MANNNN” CHUUUUUUUUU.
Who wouldn’t hire that?
Professional wrestling always had a juvenile feel to it, with grown men wearing nothing but spandexes, beating each other up, with fake punches and kicks. Selling storylines and characters that border on the silly to hysterical.
After all, where else can you find a guy named Rusev, who is an evil Russian that can’t speak English and hates everything about America. Where else can you find a guy named Fandango, a ballroom dancer that struts to the ring and speaks in an overt European accent.
Sometimes even I don’t know why I tune into professional wrestling. Yet it’s a half a billion dollar industry, and with all the silliness that comes with watching professional wrestling – there are still certain things that we can all enjoy, learn, and respect about it (as hard as it is to imagine sometimes).
At Wrestlemania 29, I saw some really good matches.
I realized that these wrestlers take a lot of time perfect their craft. And many of the wrestling moves they perform require expertise.
I would always gaze in awe as the two wrestlers would work in unison to perform a top rope suplex. Or as they worked the match from slow wrestling grapples, and build up to a more frenetic pace at the end, which culminates in a wrestling “finishing” move like the Rock Bottom or an Attitude Adjustment.
The intrigue would further ratchet up as they would introduce props into the match - like tables, ladders, and chairs - to intensify the drama and violence. A misstep here or there could lead to real injury. These wrestlers put their safety on the line for each match, and it is hard to not respect that.
Also, in addition to the physical demands and planning capabilities, many of these wrestlers also need elite public speaking skills to showcase their charisma. They need to know how to “sell” their character – regardless of how cool or ridiculous they are – in front of over tens of thousands of people.
If you’re told by the creative team to act like a “flamingo dancer”, you need to do it. If they want you to play a creepy stalker, then you need to perform that as well. They need to make the audience believe.
So many of these wrestlers need to be good actors. They’re not the thick meatheads that you may think. And in fact, many have landed roles in Hollywood blockbusters, such as The Rock in the Fast & Furious franchise, or Batista in Guardians of the Galaxy.
I remembered as a kid daydreaming about climbing to the top rope, and jumping down for an elbow drop just like Shawn Michaels. I thought about how scary The Undertaker looked, as he took off his hat and rolled his eyes backwards, as thunder rained down across the arena.
And yes, I thought about how cool it would be having my own personal ring announcer follow me everywhere announcing me as “CALVINNNNNNNNNNN CHUUUUUUUUUUUUU”. How much swagger can you gain just by hearing that? How much cooler would your voicemail message sound?
So, the next time you tune into a wrestling match, think of how these wrestlers have to work their butts off in front of a live worldwide audience.
Think of how they need more than just muscles to be good at their craft. Think of the time they need to dedicate to perfecting their character. Think of how these stories can allow our imaginations to run breathtakingly wild and free.
And next time, realize that wrestling at its finest, is something we can all come to appreciate and love.