From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The Final Countdown

Exams are over! Holidays have started! What a time to be alive! And so as things return to normal it seems only fitting, on the theme of closure, that we bask in the final piece of the 6 part series from the archive! I feel like there should be some Green Day playing in the background – in fact, as a last hurrah to the Professional Wrestling for Amateurs series  press play on this and try not to tear up too much as we say goodbye.

Before we do that though lets go back together – yes I am coming with you this time – and take a look at what the whole point of this blog series was all about. Part one gave a detailed account of what it’s like to live as a fan of professional wrestling, the social stigma involved, and the sly comments and subtle digs you have to put up with on a regular basis (see recurring comment; “You do know that’s fake, right?”). From here we moved into Part two where we looked more at the physical side of things – using Mick Foley’s best selling book “Have A Nice Day” as a point of call, not only for evidence, but also as the point where I truly fell in love with the sport as a young child.

As May was world mental health month it seemed fitting that in Part three we touched on some of the confronting mental situations that workers in the industry are faced with regularly – most of which are overlooked by those of you who fail to see past the character into the person underneath. To get a better understanding of this we went out and got some first hand insight from someone who actually gets in the ring with Part four, which is still our most successful part to date, which was a sit down interview with O’Shay Edwards – who is easily my new favourite wrestler (and should be yours too) as he is taking the world by storm. Finally, in Part five, we looked at the growing sub-culture that has developed from the wrestling industry. The common themes that bring people together through wrestlers crossing the threshold within the mediasphere to becoming actors, wrestling approved and associated music, or just the overall sense of camaraderie that is shared between members of the broader wrestling community.

All of these topics were outlined and decided upon as, to date, there was no easily found and up to date source with similar information. The aim was to act as an educational tool for those who didn’t know – or as a point of reference for those who did – and as the series has unfolded I feel like I have legitimised everything that I set out to achieve. Hopefully you feel the same and, even if it is only a small titbit, something that I have said will remain with you long after you finish reading these words.

What started as an ambitious attempt to watch wrestling and pass it off as study when questioned by the wife has now turned into a nifty little blog that I have become more and more attached to and proud of as time goes on. For this reason – while this six part series is done – I will be sticking around to continue enlightening you with more of my quality insight which I am sure you are all growing to love (if you aren’t please try harder) and I look forward to looking back at this project as a collection of wrestling knowledge for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

Thank you for reading.


This piece was originally published on June 4th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

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From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – What, Culture?

Another week of preparing for the end of term has left me short on time – luckily there is still more to go back to from this original series on the misunderstood art of professional wrestling.  Previously we sat down with an actual, real life, wrestling machine – O’Shay Edwards – for a look at the life of a wrestler as well as touching on the physical and mental commitments and sacrifices that are made by performers. If you haven’t had a chance to read those earlier parts I would strongly recommend them as they are each a literary delight before tackling part 5 of this gripping tale of intrigue and romance.

So far the majority of this series has been looking at things from a wrestlers perspective and trying to break it down for better insight. What has been overlooked, and what will be touched on now, is the way in which the wrestling industry has influenced a sort of sub-culture in the modern world. A place where, thanks to social media, wrestling fans and pundits alike come to pay tribute to the sport they love in many different ways.

As the popularity of wrestling grew through the late 90’s it reached cult status, establishing the careers of many modern day film actors, most notable the likes of The Rock and John Cena. But it wasn’t always wrestlers becoming actors. In fact in 2000 Actor David Arquette became the WCW World Champion in what can only be described as a piece of sheer booking genius from then head booker Vince Russo – the man famous for making everything infinitely better by putting it on a pole.

It was around this time that wrestling and music also began to go hand in hand. Yes, I know Cyndi Lauper was at the first Wrestlemania, but this is more than that – and no I’m not talking about the Macho Man’s foray into rap either (which is pure brilliance if you haven’t already heard it). The surge in popularity of hard rock/post-grunge/nu-metal music saw bands that would not normally get the time of day thrust into the spotlight and if you were to quiz most modern day wrestling fans on the likes of Cold, Drowning Pool and Limp Bizkit they would be able to tell you that in 2002 they were all close personal friends of Tazz.

Moving away from the main stream influence in modern pop-culture professional wrestling has also created a brilliant and beautiful virtual world – sometimes even more misunderstood than wrestling itself. “eFedding”, another term for online roleplaying games based around the sport of professional wrestling, has grown massively as a hobby over the last 20 years from chains of emails, to MSN message boards and into the present day with social media (there are entire rosters worth of characters constantly tearing into one another on Twitter). The attention to detail shown by some roleplayers, or “fedders”, is immense and there are often people outside of the hobbies inner sanctum who mistake them for real people. A more in depth analysis of this subculture can be found here in the essay An Exploration of Social Gaming.

All of these things, be it films, music or games, bring millions of people together every day and unite them with one common trait; a love of wrestling. Whether it is loved or hated the wrestling industry as a whole is a global phenomenon – second only to sports like football (soccer for you Americans) and boxing for global popularity and viewership – and deserves to be treated with the same respect.


This piece was originally published on May 31st 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The View From Inside

And then there were three! Past the halfway mark and ready to go again with another insightful and informative look at the world of professional wrestling. So far in this series we have identified some of the physical and mental challenges faced by the men and women who go out night after night in bars, clubs, halls and arenas worldwide to put on a show as well as some of the stigma that is associated with being a wrestling fan. As always if you have missed any of the previous three parts we will take a moment now to wait for you to go back, catch up and make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

In part 4 (that’s this one) we are going to be looking at some of what life as a wrestler is all about – courtesy of an exclusive interview with American Premier Wrestling’s O’Shay Edwards – and go over some of the points that we have touched on already with someone who has experienced them first hand.

How long have you been wrestling and how long did you train before you debuted?

I have been training since February of 2016 with my first show coming in April.

Whereabouts can we find you working in the ring?

I’m currently being booked for American Premier Wrestling, which has produced its first NXT product (Macey Estrella) and I’m currently in talks with LaGrange Championship Wrestling to start working for them too. I’m excited to see what happens.

How often do you train now – both in ring and general fitness?

It depends on how often I can actually get in the ring. If I can get in the ring 2 times a week I’m usually in the gym one day a week. If I can get into the ring 1 time a week I’m in the gym 2 times a week. What if I can’t get there anytime that week? Then I usually spend 3 days out of the week in the gym.

Do you use your own name, or a character/gimmick name, and if so does your character differ much from your real self?

No, I don’t use my own name. My gimmick name kinda happened on the fly but personality wise I don’t differ much. Its just myself ramped up to a 1000%.

 

What’s the biggest crowd you’ve worked for? Likewise, what’s the smallest crowd you’ve worked for?

The smallest crowd was about 50 or 60 people. The largest crowd so far has been a little over 200. The goal is one day to wrestle in front of a thousand plus people.

Furthest you’ve travelled for a show?

The farthest ever was about 3 hours from Atlanta to Statesboro Georgia.

Do you have a favourite opponent?

So far my favorite match has been wrestling against Iron Man.

Have you taken any bad bumps or botches that have legitimately hurt you, serious injuries etc?

Ironically enough while wrestling Iron Man I took a punch and it landed right above my right eye. It busted open and I bled all over place but we had the match of the night.

Finally, what do you do when you’re not wrestling?

I’m a full-time Firefighter in Atlanta.

We would like to sincerely thank O’Shay for taking the time to talk to us and answer our questions. Be sure to check him out, and the rest of APW, if you are in Georgia and you have the chance.

Hopefully this interview has given you some good insights into the life of a professional wrestler and will serve as a reminder that you should always be respectful to the talent – regardless of whether you may like the character or not – because, in this case at least, if you live around Atlanta a few boos and a nasty tweet could see your cat stuck up that tree for a little bit longer.


This piece was originally published on May 16th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The Hard Road

Who would’ve thought that we would be back here again, eager as beavers for part 3 of our wrestling extravaganza? Well, I would’ve (because I’m contractually obligated to be here) but you are here of your own volition and I must say that is very much appreciated.

In case you new to the blog, and this series in particular, previously in parts one and two we have touched on the stigma that is sometimes associated with the professional wrestling community as a whole and the physical side of the business that is often discredited as being fake – but what about the mental challenges that are faced by male and female wrestlers all over the world.

Right now, as you read these words, there are literally thousands of professional wrestlers around the globe waking up or going to sleep in a cheap motel somewhere, thousands of miles away from their families. Ordinary people, who like the other 99% have a job that they get out of bed for – the only difference being that they don’t have the luxury of sitting behind a desk for eight hours and then clocking out and going home to the wife and kids, sitting around the table for a decent home cooked meal and hearing about how little Timmy’s football match went. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Dance Recitals, Dentists appointments, so many different activities – seemingly ordinary to the rest of us – are missed because they have to work a schedule as mentally gruelling as it is physical.

Now, and I can already hear you saying it, they get paid stupid amounts of money to do that and to an extent I would agree. If we were talking about the guys and girls working the big contracts in the big companies to put on the big shows it cannot be denied that, while facing these challenges, they are duly rewarded. But what about the rest?

Like everything in life (and here’s where we digress into politics a little bit) wrestling is like capitalism. The people at the top get all of the money and the guys trying to climb up that pyramid – well let’s just say that they don’t quite get as much. Now to put this in perspective wrestling doesn’t really differ from any other sports; you wouldn’t pay Tom Brady the same money as a rookie kicker fresh out of college. It’s just the way of the world. The guys who generate the revenue and make the franchises are rewarded accordingly with big money deals – but it has to be noted that before they were the big money guys, they were the same ones who were sleeping in dives and clocking up hundreds of miles or catching a red eye flight to another country just to try and get their little suckle on the golden teat.

If we are to look at this objectively – the main reason they do it (as naïve as it may sound) is for the fans. Without the people turning up and paying in to watch them they could be the greatest wrestlers in the world – they still wouldn’t make it. Obviously there are other factors, personal motivation and competitive drive being big ones, but you would be hard pressed to find any man or woman around who would be motivated to succeed when they are spending their birthday away from their partner and children.

Sadly the overzealous outsider, or the casual fan, often overlooks these challenges. Turning on their TV and instead of seeing a person doing their job they see a character they don’t like. So instead of appreciating that person’s hard work they throw a brick at their screen, refuse to watch until something is done about them and tweet them death threats. It’s this kind of abhorrent, short sighted attitude that creates problems for other fans and wrestlers alike. It needs to be remembered that while you can buy in to kayfabe, the characters and their stories, off screen they are ordinary people just like the rest of us – and they should be treated with the same respect.


This piece was originally published on May 7th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

 

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – Back With a Vengeance

Here we stand back on the front line, trying to to make the world a better place by eradicating ignorance and informing the uninformed. In case you missed the first part in the series it would be my strong recommendation you go back and give it a look (and not just because I wrote it). Once you’ve done that meet us back here to regroup. It’s fine – we will wait.

Honestly, take your time.

Are you ready?

Excellent, now, to finish this anecdote we will have to go back to the year 2001. It was an eventful year for many reasons; the great Sir Donald Bradman passed away aged 92, the Socceroos claimed third place at the Confederations Cup beating both France and Brazil and, most importantly, 10 year old me was taken into a Dymocks bookshop by his mother and told he could pick any book he wanted. I’m sure she was expecting me to come back with a stupid joke book or something similar – which was more of my style at the time – but not on this occasion. Instead something caught my eye on the bottom shelf on the farthest wall of the shop. After a little bit of persuading I left that book shop with my very own copy of Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks – the 544 page epic story of legendary wrestler Mick Foley – and I never looked back.

This was the first real insight I had into the world of wrestling and I fell in love with it instantly. The raw emotion in Foley’s words and twisted humour that he worked into his stories made it a more than memorable experience from start to finish and I still remember carrying it around with me, recounting passages to anyone who would listen. To this day I still have the same copy, though the last 15 years has left it seeing better days. Foley’s insightfully graphic accounts of the injuries he suffered, from the famous ear incident with Vader, to the infamous Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker (most of which Mick himself didn’t remember – unsurprisingly) it showed a young wrestling fan how much punishment these competitors put themselves through and how hard they worked to get to where they were. One particular passage that stuck with me was when Foley went to see a doctor about a scan on his back – the doctor told him what he had to and asked if he had any questions – to which Foley replied he was worried about the colour of one of his discs. It was white, while all of the others were grey. The doctor explained that they were supposed to be white and that the grey colouring was from the constant physical toll that wrestling was taking on his body.

How does this finish off the anecdote from Part One? I’m glad you asked. This is one of the many stories that I used to explain my love for the wrestling industry and to justify the risks that these men and women take on a nightly basis. Some people struggle to appreciate the lengths that competitors go to – often wrestling multiple times a week – for nothing more than the entertainment of the fans and their own personal enjoyment. Professional wrestling may be a scripted story with a predetermined result but by no means can anyone say that what those men and women do is fake in any way.


This piece was originally published on May 7th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

 

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – An Introduction

Professional wrestling. Just the mention of those two little words can divide an entire room full of people. Whether it’s right down the middle or all against one nothing seems to divide opinion as much as wrestling. If you are out on the lash with a bunch of lads and someone says, “did you catch the fight last week?” chances are they are not talking about the Intercontinental Championship match on Monday Night Raw. The inspiration for this blog, and the series of posts that will follow in the Introduction to Wrestling series, was inspired by a situation much the same as this one.

Before I start I will go on the record as saying I do not watch as much wrestling as I probably should (or at least think that I should). I keep up to date mostly with dirt sheets and Twitter and I like to think I have my finger on the pulse – though I’m not going to pretend like I’ve heard of your favourite wrestler from the Independent circuit in Guam. The majority of my actual watching is done via the WWE Network, which essentially means I watch NXT once a week and the monthly Pay-Per-Views.

This is where our story begins.

It was sometime during the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, a brisk Saturday evening, and a handful of friends had called around for drinks. I thought to myself, excellent, we could have a few cans and once the wrestling starts throw it on and have a bit of a laugh. Everything was going to plan; until 10 minutes before the show. Someone looks at me and goes, “Will we have a game of FIFA?” Ordinarily I would jump at the chance to have a few games of PlayStation with someone, especially a visitor in my own home (it would be rude not to), however on this particular occasion I said, “No, I want to watch the wrestling.”

Silence.

Everyone looked around, not really knowing what to say, as I tried to brush it off and get the show on the road. The show started – Roadblock for those of you playing along at home – and as the girls continued to talk amongst themselves, the last man standing (apart from myself) proceeded to grill me.

“Why do you watch this? You know it’s fake, right?”

“Isn’t it a bit gay watching oiled up guys pretend to fight in their underwear?”

“UFC is much better than this shite.”

These were just some of the comments that I remember from that conversation and, while I have been enduring jibes like this since I was about 9 years old, I just couldn’t help myself. I ended up going in to bat for wrestling and its fans everywhere – and that was when it hit me. Is it wrestling that is the problem or is it just a misunderstood art form that people outside of its warming glow don’t understand?

Which brings us here. It was this interaction, for the thousandth time, that was my inspiration to write this piece. Over the coming 5 weeks I intend to go over the wrestling industry in depth, not from the tunnel visioned stand point of a mark – replying angrily to comments on a Facebook post “IT’S STILL REAL TO ME DAMMIT!” – but from a rational and educational stand point. Giving insight and understanding with facts rather than opinions and, hopefully, creating something that will be able to help wrestling fans everywhere. Whether that is by expanding their own knowledge or giving them something to show to their non-wrestling friends the next time one of them says, “You do know that’s fake, right?”


This piece was originally published on May 1st 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com