I am, and always have been a HUUUUUUGE wrestling fan. Probably more now than when I was a kid but it’s a different type of love at this age.

As a kid I was the typical infatuated fan. Warrior, Andre the Giant, Macho Man and all the other now greats and Hall of Famers. Barely missing an episode on Saturday nights and then eventually Monday Night Raw. I was just so amazed at it all. These men and women were barely human. They were real life Superhero’s to me.

I wasn’t the usual Hulkamanic though. When most kids were eating their vitamins and saying their prayers, I always felt more drawn to the Heel (The Bad Guy) role of a wrestler. Not that I didn’t like any of the Face wrestlers (The Good Guy’s) but I felt more of an attachment and connection to the BAD GUY! (That’s a nerd reference to another favorite of mine, Razor Ramon)

Faces are the Good Guys

Heels are the Bad Guys

Let’s Just Move Along

Every week the good guy would face off with a bad guy and the bad guy would get these incredibly massive Boo’s that would fill the whole Garden or whatever arena they were in that week. I didn’t realize at the time that a heel getting boo’s and dislike meant he was doing his job, and as pissed off or upset these guys and girls looked about that treatment from the fans, inside they were overjoyed that they had accomplished this feat. That’s what they were supposed to do. I’m very intrigued by someone who can thrive at a job, and that job description is to have everyone in the arena and watching at home hate you. If people were cheering a heel in the old days of wrasslin’ then that wrestler had failed at his or her job. And vise versa, a Face getting jeers and dislike was really really bad.

Some of these wrestlers went their whole careers being hated and I wonder what kind of toll that would have on someone after that much time. That must take a very special kind of person to deal with that every day. This is why I eventually respected them more and was drawn to them so much as I got older. I respected that work a lot.

It always seemed so much easier to go to the ring and do some cheap shout outs to get a huge pop (Cheer) or applause. “IT’S GREAT TO BE BACK HERE IN (INSERT CITY NAME)” or the typical “I LOVE AMERICA” cheap pop. I hated that crap then, and I cringe at it to this day. So to get by and be successful without having to use those easy cheer and applause breaks was always more appealing to me. They really had so much more to deal with and go through. They had to work really fucking hard on the mic and had to utilize so much more to maintain that.

If I am to try to explain my love for wrestling  down to a central focal point, it would have to be the simple fact that, even though the result of the match is pre-determined, it requires more of a talent to go through this sort of in ring dance with another human and make it look as brutal and spectacular as you could, but with the goal of never actually hurting your opponent. This person is your partner more then an opponent and you are both a part of this play on a stage equipped with ropes and turnbuckles, and you have to perform a sort of Broadway type show for a live audience while showing some seriously insane athletic abilities.

This is more of a feat and accomplishment to me then two individuals stepping into a cage or ring just to go full out and your only goal is to hurt your opponent to an ending result of a knockout or submission. I’m am in no way taking anything away from all the hard work and the training/discipline it takes to do that at all, I’m just looking at all of that and also having to put your trust in another person to perform some incredible stunts and moves and NOT hurt you. That to me is the most impressive part. When pulled off properly it can be the most beautiful sight you have ever witnessed. But if done incorrectly in the slightest it could mean disaster, resulting in some serious injuries or even in some instances, death.

This is the foundation of my love for this sport. Or Sports Entertainment. Whatever the hell Vince McMahon wants to call it.

My all-time favorite wrestler growing up was the Best There is, The Best There Was, And The Best There Ever Will Be, Bret The Hitman Hart. In a close second was someone I still consider one of the greatest wrestlers of all time as well, his real life brother Owen Hart.

Man, I miss that guy wrestling more then anyone else that has ever stepped inside a wrestling ring. Owen is one of the most underrated and respected wrestlers ever to lace up those boots. I have yet to hear any wrestler say a negative thing about Owen to this day. One of those guys that every locker room needs is all I ever hear from interviews and such with fellow wrestlers. That bond certain people bring that keeps everyone connected and as happy as possible. Millions of stories from wrestlers about the shenanigans and pranks he would add on the road and how it has never been recreated since. One of a kind.

That look on Bret’s face in the above pic say’s it all really. I would bet Owen just pulled some prank on him, or Bret knows he’s about to

A wrestlers workload is so much more intense then any other sport or lifestyle in my opinion. The amount of times they wrestle in just one week while still working out and travelling city to city, busting their ass almost literally to get that pay cheque is more extreme then you or I could ever imagine. It’s is to this day the main reason for so many wrestlers eventually getting addicted to serious pain pills and drugs. Anything to get them to the next show and match. That’s all that mattered at that time. So many early deaths in the wrestling industry. So many childhood idols gone way before they should have. The whole 90’s and early 2000’s were filled with some of the greatest to ever step in a ring, dying by the age of 40. At that time steroids were pushed really hard in the industry. So much so that wrestling companies at the time were not even willing to hire smaller guys. Steroids in that era of wrestling was pretty much a job requirement

Small guys run the industry now.

It’s completely opposite these days and so much healthier for a wrestler.

They still work way too much in reality, but at least drug testing is stricter now and wrestlers definitely have more rights as a worker these days….. Sort of

My current love for wrestling these days is grounded more in my respect for what they do then what it was as a younger fan when I was just enjoying the spectacle of it all. I have spent so much time watching behind the scenes docs and peeking behind the curtain this last decade that my obsession has turned into pure respect for the lifestyle and what it really takes to be a success in such a difficult industry. It’s incredibly hard to stick out among the pack of fellow wrestlers. It takes something very special and a serious dedication to it all. This is not something you can achieve without extreme sacrifice, loyalty, respect and a real love for it all. Wrestlers are not in it for the money. Trust me. It doesn’t have the massive contracts and pay days you see with all other sports. To be the guy that makes a million a year in wrestling is not really common. Except this is changing more recently.

Most of a wrestlers pay comes from merchandise sales like shirts and toys. And that’s not the easiest to accomplish. Only a handful of wrestlers achieve the huge salary contracts per decade. I’m talking the Stone Cold, Cena’s and DX’s. Those are examples of being top paid but still only achievable for a short period and not guaranteed because it’s not your salary contract money. The actual contracts for wrestlers rarely see 7 figures. Other sports pay their athletes 20 million a year on contracts alone and don’t come close to the workload that wrestlers deal with.

NFL players play one game a week for 17 weeks a year

Baseball, Basketball and Hockey all have seasons that last 9 months or less, and they all sign the majority of their athletes to multi million dollar contracts a year. Not including endorsement deals, merchandise sales, appearances etc. This has a lot to do with the deeper issue of wrestlers needing a union in professional companies like WWE. Currently a majority of WWE wrestlers do not have a health care plan and that seems insane if you think about the business that they’re in (All of  a sudden my blog has become an in-depth journalistic dive into the darkness of the wrestling business)

WWE wrestlers work 3 or more matches a week, every week of the year.

No off season.

No game openers, or Championship game before the off season.

The best way to get any time off is to seriously injure yourself, but then when you were healthy enough to work again in maybe 3 months (if lucky) most the time the wave you were on before and all the progression you built is gone and now you are just a wrestler lost in the shuffle of everyone else trying once again to shine and stick out. You usually come back from time off to not many caring about your character anymore, and now they have moved on to the next flash in the pan wrestler or gimmick that has caught their eye.

As tired and overworked or injured as you may be, it tends to get hidden because you may currently be on a huge wave and stopping that mid rise could potentially mean the end of your thriving career, and that meant even worse things to these wrestlers, like no pay cheque and food on the table for your family. This is why the pain pills and drugs come in to play so much in this world. Anything to keep that wave going, even if it means killing yourself.

Still even at my age I watch most of the wrestling promotions available today. WWE. New Japan. NxT. Even the all new AEW. I can’t get enough of it. I thought I would have outgrown this by now like the majority of people I know that make fun of me for my obsession with it still to this day. My Friends are mostly assholes. It’s why I love them.

I even go to a majority of the independent shows that go on locally in my hometown. Watching it live is so intense and such a spectacle for someone who loves the sport and respects the art form as much as I do. These fans that attend these shows regularly are the most passionate and loyal people I’ve ever met in my life. Such a open welcoming family. Almost exactly like the Metal community.

Wrestlers are mostly well aware of the type of lifestyle it takes to be successful in an industry such as this when they start that journey. The sacrifices they must make and yet they still choose to pursue it. This blows my mind, but it also fills the industry with amazing hard working athletes that really are there because they were an obsessed fan as well before they took this on.

I’m not really sure where this blog goes from here on this topic. I guess I’ve written enough. Tried to the best of my ability to get you to understand my obsession.

I know that I am not in the majority of people when I express my  unwavering adoration and love for wrestling, but whatever. I will continue to share the awesomeness of wrestling and all the effort it takes to succeed. And if you don’t like it then you can expect a chokeslam from myself on the Spanish announce table, as I raise my eyebrow towards the sky and face the crowd of Screaming (Or Booing) fans all around me. But you should know by this point if it was up to me, I’d be the biggest Heel the wrestling world has ever seen.

Catch me Somewhere

Jay R

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