I have been told the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I don't know that being in the wrestling business drives anyone to insanity but I have always believed you had to be slightly "off kilter" to want to be a part of this crazy industry.
I used to write a regular column on WWE.com and I must admit I enjoyed having an outlet to vent my opinions and views on the latest in Sports Entertainment. I have trained many current WWE Superstars during my time as Developmental Talent Trainer and Manager with WWE. I have been a life long wrestling fan and have been able to fulfill my wildest dreams and make a living in a business I had a burning passion for, for over 20 years. Nobody has truly "seen it all" but I have seen quite a lot and have met some interesting and entertaining characters along the way.
My wife recently suggested I write a wrestling column for some internet site she saw. I wasn't interested. Writing a column takes too much time and I really didn't feel like writing about what's going on these days. Yes, I have my thoughts but I wasn't ready to share them. Writing a column takes effort and I have to be motivated.
I was answering forum questions on another website but again, for some reason, I just got bored and lost interest in reading negativity and mindless chatter. It's been that kind of year for me…
I still remember how much I once loved the wrestling business. My first recollection of seeing wrestling on TV was in El Paso, Texas and there were two guys running against the ropes, colliding in mid ring. My older brothers were watching and I sat down and started watching too. I was hooked from that day. I was four years old.
The Funks were big stars, along with Ricky Romero, "Mad Dog" Harley Race, Mr. Ito and Chati Yakuchi, The Von Brauners with manager Gentleman Saul Weingroff, The Infernos with JC Dykes, Nick and Jerry Kozak, Alex Perez, The Lawman Don Slatten and the list went on and on of these unique, larger than life characters that appeared every Saturday afternoon (following Roller Derby) on my TV. Ah, yes. Roller Derby. Another column for another time.
In the 60's and 70's pro wrestling was held in smoky arenas and when the house lights went down, the overhead ring lights put all the attention on the participants in the ring. Pro wrestling has always been about "entertainment" but back then the guys went to the ring with one goal. Make the people who came that night come back again and again. The anticipation of a big match or major star appearing was what fans lived for. I wanted to see how Dory Funk Jr. was going to escape with his NWA championship against Johnny Valentine. Valentine and Wahoo McDaniel beat the hell out of each other for years and never had the same match twice. When they stepped in the ring it was as real as it got!
I can't knock the way business has evolved. The bottom line has always been about drawing money. How much money you drew equaled how you were looked on as a success in pro wrestling. It still is. There have been many wrestlers thru the years that could have exciting matches and really wrestle. But the main event always went to those guys who could talk a crowd in or had something unique and different that piqued fan's interest. There have been down times before but wrestling has always survived.
So why would I decide to write a column now? Allow me to explain. I was asked by James Guttman if I would be interested in writing something from the perspective of not only being in and around the wrestling business most of my life, but write from a perspective of what I feel young and upcoming wrestlers need to do these days to make it. After being released from WWE last year I got calls from everywhere to do interviews, radio and internet shows and found the same questions coming up about what "it was really like" working at Titan Towers and training future Superstars. While I have said time after time I don't consider myself a "corporate guy", I really enjoyed working at the Towers.
I moved to Tennessee and found a whole other world out there of men and women who had dreams and desires of making it to the "big time". I know what the foundation of Sports Entertainment is and I enjoy teaching and sharing what I have learned thru the years. I am one of those guys who feels that the locker room and backstage happenings are private and belong backstage. It's the only real place the guys and girls can relax and get ready to perform. They are like everyone else in that everybody needs a break from being "on" at times.
When I do camps and seminars I talk a lot about how the business evolved into what it is today. And while it's not the same business I grew up on, the basic elements to make it work will never change.
You must have a basic, solid foundation and understanding of what pro wrestling is and where it came from. Professional wrestling is the foundation of today's Sports Entertainment. Without this, there ain't no that!
Professional wrestling is about telling stories and getting people emotionally involved. If the people in the ring don't believe what they're doing, how can anyone in the arena get excited about the match?
I tell trainees to watch videos from such "old timers" as Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, The Funks, Jack Brisco, Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair. But the reality is you can't "feel" the heat and emotion that was happening in the arena at the time. Chris Benoit and William Regal had a classic old school match at a Brian Pillman Memorial show years ago that I still point out as classic in psychology and intensity. But the truth is, as years go by, more and more of the younger wrestlers don't have the opportunity to attend weekly shows that feature stars who understand the basics of story telling and taking the crowd on an emotional roller coaster.
I keep telling myself it has got to come back around to a more simple, reality based business where "wrestling" is the focal point. Good vs. Evil. Or simply, my favorite vs. the guy I want my favorite to beat. For a championship. Or some stipulation that gets the masses interested. Hulk Hogan vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin? Yeah, I'd pay to see that.
I find myself looking back more and more at the days when I was young and couldn't wait for Friday nights in the Coliseum in Houston. I remember the old time fans back then telling me about names like Mike Mazurki, Ali Baba, Jack Pfieffer, Leo Garabaldi, Strangler Lewis, George Hackenschmidt, Frank Gotch, Abe Jacobs, Bronko Nagurski, Wiskers Savage, Leo Burke, Larry Chene, Gorgeous George, Lou Thesz, Frankie Murdoch and names I heard and had to learn about based on how passionate these fan were when they talked about their exploits.
I feel the same passion when I talk about the Funks, Briscos, Valentines, Lotharios, Superstar Grahams, Bobby Shanes, Great Malenkos, Eddie Grahams and others back when they took pride in everything they did in the ring. It can still be done today with guys like Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. Triple H and Ric Flair. Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit.
The bottom line is this. If you don't "feel it" and have the passion and dedication for what you do in the ring, it will come thru in your matches. You either have it or you don't.
I appreciate the opportunity to have a forum to once again express my thoughts and opinions once again. That's what it will be. I'm not always right. But I'm not always wrong either. I know I'll come across something that I can really sink my teeth into and when that happens, watch out!
I want to thank James and everyone at Wrestling Insanity for the opportunity and I welcome any feedback or questions.