When I was around eight years old, wrestling birthday parties were all the craze. The kids, fuelled on jelly and ice cream would sit in front of the television and be entertained by wild characters like Hulk Hogan, the Macho Man and the Ultimate Warrior. It was at my first one of these parties that I decided that I wanted to become a pro wrestler. In the back of my mind, I knew that it was a pipe dream, but fast forward twenty one years, and it became a little bit more real.
Now – as I grew older, watching the WWE(F), WCW, ECW and many other companies – I grew wise to the fact that it was “fake” – a pantomime put on by over the top actors, where nobody really got hurt and the ring was likely full of pads to make even the most insane bump feel like landing on a mattress. Sure the guys were ripped, and highly athletic – but it must have been a piece of cake. So when I found out about a wrestling school in my local area (Portsmouth, UK), I thought I would give it a shot – it would be easy right?
The company was called Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW), and the head trainer is a veteran called Andy Simmonz (who I later found out had a short stint in the WWE, being flattened, quite literally, by the late Umaga). I spend a while watching before jumping in the ring myself. The first thing I realised was “fake” is not a term that should be used with Pro Wrestling.
The first thing Andy ‘Boy’ Simmonz had me doing, was taking bumps – back bumps to start (the starting point for any wrestler), which I didn’t find too bad. It took a while to get the landing right, but a good coached helped a lot. Next, was rope running. Now, for me – when I see a guy bounce off the ropes, it is usually the move after that I pay attention to. After about two minutes of running (at which point I thought I was going to collapse), my back was covered in bruises, and hurt like hell. I had a feeling that to be a pro wrestler, you would need to be made of solid stuff.
Three hours of training later, doing the same thing over and over until Simmonz was happy, and I couldn’t wait to get home. My back was killing me, my chest hurt, I was exhausted – but I couldn’t wait to get back.
Here are what I feel are the key skills you need to have – and that the right trainer can help you achieve to help you become a pro wrestler:
Fitness – When you watch wrestling on TV, the guys look hurt, but never blown out. Keeping a match going is tiring, and fitness helps a lot to make sure you can handle it. Keep up the cardio (or start it), and make sure you eat healthily to fuel yourself well.
Hard Work – I have been training for a year now, and still make mistakes. When I do, I work my ass off until I get a move right. The moves are set up to look painful, but both you and your opponent need to be kept safe – if you give up, then you increase the chance of injuring yourself and others.
Patience – You will not step into the ring and turn into the Rock on your very first day. CM Punk didn’t become the “Best in the World” overnight. My first match in front of a live crowd came eight months after I started training (a Royal Rumble match that saw me spend more time sat in the crowd than in the ring) – but the hard work will pay off, and it is worth the wait.
A Good Trainer – I have received a lot of help from my trainer. They care about safety, and they get involved. I am also lucky enough to be part of a great company (RPW) who put on regular shows for their trainees. Check out reviews of companies before you commit – and don’t get conned into paying too much.
Confidence - This is many peoples downfall, but can be built up in time. Confidence in yourself will help moves look good, and be done safely, not to mention allow your character to shine.
For me, if you have those three qualities, you will do well in the wrestling business. I still come home hurting, but I get a buzz after every training session.