Monday, September 3, 2012

A Day In A Pro Wrestler's Life

As I was once an announcer for CPW, ICW and OCW pro wrestling, and have had many friends in the field, I wrote this in their honour. This is also dedicated to Willy Wainwright, Uncle Lloyd/Aunt Barbara's son-in-law, who's an avid wrestling fan.

The alarm clock goes off at 5 AM as usual, and the former heavyweight champ pulls himself out of bed and staggers sleepily to the bathroom. He splashes cool lavatory water on his face to get him awake; after all, he has to be clocked-in and at his workstation in a couple of hours.

As he shuffles to the kitchen and fixes a cup of coffee, he can't help chuckling over the scores of people who think his only job is wrestling. Though he misses the "big-time" with the stadiums, screaming fans and fat paychecks, he's happier because at least he can control his own life now. He has to work a "regular" job now to make ends meet, but he can decide if and where he wrestles and, best of all, won't have to be away from his kids and family for very long.

His workday as security guard at a local mall is pretty routine: walk the mall, be on the lookout for anything unusual and answer any questions that shoppers may have. Often, he's stopped and asked about Ric Flair®, Hulk Hogan® or some other big-name wrestler whom he's known. Though he wishes they'd recognize him as being more than just another face that was once on a major sports-entertainment show, it's nice that they remember.

Near the end of his shift, he quickly makes one more round of the mall, then checks his watch; he's agreed to appear on a nearby independent wrestling card that evening, and has to leave immediately after work to pack his gear.

Shortly after five, he's back at home and packing. Along with his trunks, soap, towel, deodorant, boots, wrestler's license and the email offer he received from the promoter, he takes special care to pack his Ben-Gay® and a bottle of extra-strength Tylenol®. While he puts those in a special section of his travel bag, he shakes his head in disbelief.

How can the world think that all wrestlers have to use steroids and addictive pain meds? Okay, maybe in the "big-time", where they have to wrestle every night and aren't allowed to get over their bumps and bruises. It doesn't make it right, though; he remembers Benoit and Hennig and others who had problems with the stuff. He breathes a sigh of relief; at least this is the "independent" circuit, where the pressure's not that bad; a man can have a few days or weeks off to recuperate naturally if necessary.

After kissing his wife and kids good-bye, he heads to the local armory to set up. Once in the locker room and after greeting the other grapplers on the card, he greets the "worker" he's supposed to wrestle and goes over their night's work. This time, he gets to play the "heel", so they review their moves and plays to get the most out of the gig. Once it's agreed on how it'll all be done, and the "winner" is decided, he waits around until his designated match.

Yes, pro wrestling is choreographed to a degree, but that doesn't mean it's painless; as the match progresses, he strains a hamstring, and one bump to the outside nearly breaks his collarbone! Still, everything's paced so it's not as harsh as it was in the "old days."

After the match, he returns to the locker room, showers, rubs some of the ointment over the sore spots and takes a couple of Tylenol to help ease the pain a bit. Then he returns to the locker area, where the promoter comes in, hands him a fifty-dollar bill and a release form that he'd forgotten to have signed before the match.

The wrestling security officer signs the form, receives his pay, and packs up to leave via the side entrance. He knows it's not a big show like the "Omni" -- in fact, there were only about 300 in the Armory -- and the pay is certainly worlds apart. But at least he can return home in one piece, to a family that loves him, and knows he can have a good night's sleep ... naturally.