Many wrestling shows come and go on a weekly basis. Before and after every show we see, we become what the Internet world refers to as ‘Smarks’ or Smart Marks. I’m just as guilty as the next guy to criticize what we see on television, but do we even know? Do any of us have any idea what goes on and what it takes to live the business?
I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. In the early 90’s I was a fan. When Austin pretty much started the Attitude Era, I was a fan. When WWE bought WCW, I was a fan.
When WWE was going through the pains of injured big names and no one to move into their place, I was a fan. Fan or not, it wasn’t until I started going to a local indie fed in 2003 that I started to respect the hell out of these guys and their business.
I’m not saying that no one respects it, however, if you don’t fully understand it, how can you act like the top critic? That’d be like Siskel and Ebert being film critics just because they saw a few movies. They fully understand the business and what it takes to make a great film. Professional wrestling is the same way.
These guys live the business. They are always at the gym, following a rather strict diet full of muscle building proteins and supplements. Well, ok…not all of them!
Most are always trying to improve, get better, make a bigger name, and impress more fans. They love what they do 24/7.
2003 is when I started going to KCW, Keystone Championship Wrestling in Altoona, Pennsylvania. It was honestly the only thing I really looked forward to every month.
I always went with a group of fans. Crazy Donnie and myself dubbed the fan group as the C.I.A, “Clinically Insane Assholes.” We were loud, we cheered, we booed, we chanted. We were addicts. There really isn’t anything more fun than getting to verbally interact with the characters that come out. Good guy or bad guy, they were all great guys. They were humbled by the fan support when the fans should have been the humble ones. These guys put their body and life on the line to entertain us!
I think we really take it for granted. I never really thought of that until I went to the KCW School. I didn’t last long…I’ll tell you that.
After thinking I’d be decent after years of backyard wrestling and never being hurt, I was surely wrong. My back bumps were decent. My flip bumps were sub-par, but could be worked on. My handstand bumps didn’t exist. I left that day, humbled. I’ll never forget what happened at an outdoors show a week later.
Crazy Donnie and I would go to a KCW show. Kasanova Kato, the owner of KCW I had the tryout with, was facing someone in a hardcore match. We thought it’d be funny to turn our backs on Kato when he came out. He snuck up behind me, got really close to my ear and said something I will NEVER forget.
“If you want to train with me, you’ll show me respect.”
I never forgot that. However, being only 20, I was foolish and just assumed he was a dick. Six months later, I went back to the KCW School to try again. I watched guys doing some awesome things and I still couldn’t even do half of the standard, basic bumps. It was upsetting. Something else happened that day though.
As I’m a loud-mouthed clown, I made a joke as Kato was letting us into the building and he shot me a look that to this day I won’t forget. I still remember some of the guys looking like high school kids who were waiting to see the teacher yell at me.
I didn’t get it. I never forgot it though. Years later, I figured out it was about respect. This is a business of passion and respect. Not jokes, not being funny, not just getting by.
You are stepping into that ring, putting everyone else’s life on the line that is in there with you, including your own. There is no time for joking and kidding when you are there to learn.
I had a lot of respect for those guys. I have a lot of respect for the WWE guys, the TNA guys and the indie guys like Kevin Matthews, Adam Pearce and Bobby Shields…the list could go on forever. I even had respect for the really shitty guys who still had the guts to learn and respect what I was clearly overlooking.
So, before you decide to sit behind the computer and bad mouth the wrestling business, just remember what those guys and girls have gone through just to entertain you. The passion they clearly have and the respect they deserve.
I write. I write a lot. I write about wrestling, I write my own material for my stand up, I write scripts for a web-series, sitcom, films and other projects. I’ve taken writing and creative classes. I have no problems being a critic to the storylines, to any promo that was a written piece of shit. But I cannot critique the physical matches like some of you think you can properly do. I don’t know that side of the business at all.
So, before you decide to log on to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or anything else to rip into the guys putting their life on the line for YOU, just remember….
It’s all about Respect.
(A special thanks to Jay and Pro Wrestling Powerhouse for using some of the KCW photos I had for this article.)