After making it to the school for a special training session Tuesday night, I started thinking about what exactly it takes to make it to the next level. There's been a lot of talk lately about "Mr. Controversy" having his own column. All I do is put myself over and blah blah blah. But the more I think about what to write, I think about the reason I wanted to start writing in the first place....to better wrestling as a whole.
I've been extremely lucky to start how I did and meet the people I have and the experiences I've been through. Whether it was good or bad, I took something away from everything to learn and better myself and more importantly, wrestling. I HATE with a passion the responses I get sometimes when i tell people I wrestle. It usually goes like this, "Oh you wrestle? Cool. Is it real wrestling, like UFC, or that fake stuff?" really? Fake? I don't think for one second that there were as many people in the 60s, 70s, 80s that thought wrestling was fake as there are now. It didn't come across as badly as it does now. Where am I going with all this? Training. Plain and simple.
I know some of us started through backyard wrestling and never really had formal training. That's the biggest problem. You wouldn't go to a surgeon that practices in his kitchen at home would you? Then why would anyone want to watch you wrestle if you haven't been trained? Taking it to the next level is the theme of this column and it holds true for all of us. There's always plenty of room to improve. The problem is, it seems like the people that want to improve are very few and even further between.
Starting in a backyard and actually getting on a show is the first step for a lot of guys. After that, its improving enough to be considered good. Because let's face it, how many backyard wrestlers would you actually consider good? We've all been on shows where a majority of the crew came from a backyard, and it shows. Bad matches, bad gear, bad everything. We've also been on shows that were completely different. We all strive to be on these shows for a few reasons. But mainly because most of us all have the same dream. A full time job as a wrestler. The only way to improve is to work with people as good or better and take what you learn and apply it. Constantly working on the same shows, with the same people doesn't help much at all. Justin Smart is a perfect example of improvement. When he started at NEW, he was a different person than he is now..whether he admits it or not lol. From DK to TGB, Alan Steele, Tatt2, Dustin Ring, Austin Lane, Shawn Reed, and countless others NEW has had the very best crew available on every show. How can anyone not improve when you have an opportunity like that??
But taking it to the next level isn't just about being on a good show with extremely talented wrestlers. Its also about ring time. I've heard guys in various locker rooms say the only bumps they take are in front of people because of whatever reason. Ask anyone that's been to WWE, those guys are there because they workout in the ring before the show. Maybe not all of them, but the younger guys are more than willing to jump in there whenever they get a chance. That's what it takes to get to the next level. That's what it takes to get a contract.
When you're only wrestling once or twice a week, that's roughly 100 chances to get in the ring in one year. Ring training takes hours upon hours to perfect everything. There are very few natural athletes in this area. And unless your name is Stan Lee, Tatt2, or Mike Anthony...chances are its gonna take you more than one attempt to even accomplish a certain move, much less perfect it. And it probably took them more than one attempt, but those are three of the most athletically consistent performers I know. Imagine what would happen with more ring training! Because an actual ring workout is much more difficult than a 15 minute match. Doing the same thing over and over and over til its perfect is a lot harder than it sounds. And its something that not many are willing to do.
Sadly, the business we all love is in the state its in because of a lot of us. Til we decide that we can fix it through improving in every aspect of our work, I don't see it changing much. The wrestling we grew up watching isn't what the fans that come to our shows see. And training is the biggest thing holding all of us back. Taking it to the next level takes a lot of hard work, in and out of the ring, and that's something we can all benefit from.