Want to try out for pro wrestling?

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Professional Wrestling

This upcoming weekend on May 28/29, FCF Wrestling in Finland will be holding their annual try-out for those looking to get into the wrestling business in Finland. We at FCF are known to produce some of the most notable export talent in the wrestling business in Europe today -names like Stark Adder, Jessica Love, Heimo Ukonselkä, Kisu, Aurora, Pasi Suominen, Kristian Kurki, Kagemanguro and Valentine in addition to myself – and thus since our track record speaks for itself, I thought to enlighten the public on the criteria for trying out. Someone out there reading might be looking to get in, so take it from someone with a proven track record and not just any old carny hopeful looking to make a buck off of you.

First of all, although the name of the game is professional wrestling, the fact remains that only a handful of grapplers in Europe can support themselves through their wrestling escapades. Very simply put, the money is not there on the independent level. Every rookie starts at the bottom of the barrel where there is no money at all, and it’s all about paying one’s dues to climb up the elusive ladder of success to get to the point where one can make a buck. Only after you have made yourself viable by having a rock-solid persona that people will pay to see, complete with handling the fundamental skills of the trade and possessing the physical look of an athlete that parlays into marketability will you be able to start earning some dough. Even then, it is chump change most of the time, taking into consideration the costs of ring gear, keeping up the physical image, costs of being on the road and other related investments into your piece of work. Therefore, anyone who is looking to cash in with pro wrestling on the independent level should forget about the whole thing and remain an armchair quarterback.

Before considering yourself part of the pro wrestling game, ask yourself whether you have the physical gifts that the business requires. Do you have a solid foundation in weight training, with good muscle co-ordination and body control? Do you have a look that you can honestly see people paying to see? Could you see yourself on a poster representing a wrestling card line-up, and have your picture draw potential customers in? If not, you need to take a reality check and reconsider whether you have the wherewithal to enter the game at this point in your life. Simply put, the paying public does not want to see regular joes, people just like them. No, the paying public wants to see something special, something that is beyond them. That is part of what makes professional wrestling retain it’s mystique, and people will pay to see something special. This is proven by anything and everything from Broadway to Las Vegas attractions to Vaudeville to the circus and beyond.

Buddy Rogers: the original Nature Boy had "the look", au naturelle.

Is there something marketable about you and your look? Is there a specific physical trait that you possess that stands out and makes you special? In FCF, a rookie like Kristian Kurki is special because he is rather tall, well defined in muscularity with long limbs in addition to possessing incredible natural charisma and natural wrestling talent. People will pay to see a package like that, and the fact that Kurki got booked in Japan by his third match should be proof positive for anyone out there that what I am saying holds absolute credence.

Kristian Kurki: a star of tomorrow in the wrestling game, owning all the attributes needed.

That said, you don’t have to be the athlete of the year to have a chance in professional wrestling, but you must have something unique physically that can be marketed. Charisma can be cultivated as a wrestler’s confidence in their own abilities grows and certain gimmicks can be used to cover up particular esthetic weaknesses. However, never should a wrestling hopeful enter the game with the notion that they will first and foremost choose a gimmick that will hide their lack of physical conditioning and hope to become viable thereby. Above all, professional wrestling is a cardiovascular sport, which requires a very high level of physical conditioning from the wrestlers involved.

Traditionally, professional wrestling has held a prerequisite that each wrestler had to look the part. That is not to say that one had to use steroids as was par for the course in the 1980’s and 1990’s to be viable, but one most certainly had to look the part of an athlete. Consider stars like WWE’s Daniel Bryan, who succeeds without the steroid physique. Or Shawn Michaels over the second half of his career before retirement in 2010. Consider stars of the past like Buddy Rogers, Eduardo Carpentier, Lou Thesz and Bruno Sammartino all had ”the look” of champions, and thus they became champions. Legendary wrestler and promoter Cowboy Bill Watts spoke of Sammartino in his WWE Hall of Fame speech from 2009, stating that when he trained weights with Bruno, ”he was also the world’s strongest man at that time in the bench press…and working out with him…my own bench press then went to 585 (lbs)…and we did NOT even know what a steroid was.”

Bruno Sammartino: physically gifted and strong as an ox.

Only in the 1990’s with the cult popularity of Paul Heyman’s original ECW did that tradition suffer a damaging blow. Many wrestlers came to the fore wearing jerseys, t-shirts and various baggy clothing as ring apparel to cover up the lack of an athletic body. This trend in turn affected the independent wrestling promotions and a flood of non-athletic rookies entered the scene, which in turn watered down and began to kill off certain wrestling markets, due to the fact that the paying public doesn’t want to pay for something which is a mockery of the marquee that is stands behind.

Just one week ago, I was wrestling in Germany, riding to the show with a couple of younger wrestlers who expounded to me how the wrestling business is faltering badly in their country at the moment. They were quick to point out that the biggest problem contributing to the current downfall was the influx of ”backyard” wrestlers and fan-led promotions. Poorly-trained youngsters without bodies were filling the cards, which have a few pros booked on them to work the top matches. The paying audience that comes out to see the events balks at the parody of wrestling that is presented to them, and thus refuse to come back a second time, lending to dropping attendance across the map. Once again, I cannot expound enough the fact that people do NOT want to see regular joes lining up the cards. People want to see something special that they do not see every day, and the least that should be expected of a ”professional wrestler” is the image of an athlete. Or at least a freak, if the former is not applicable.

Happy Humphrey vs. Haystacks Calhoun: freakshow translates into box office.

Wrestling legend Big Daddy of Great Britain was obscenely obese and he did not shy away from that fact. Instead, Big Daddy emphasized his obesity in the way he wrestled, using his bulk as a sales pitch in the process. The same can be said for former WWE wrestler Viscera, who took on the name Big Daddy V (not to be confused with the UK’s Big Daddy) in his last WWE run a few years back. Viscera’s manboobs made Abdullah the Butcher look like Stacy Keibler in comparison, and obviously Viscera’s ECW push was completely reliant on his freakish frame, as WWE made him lose the upper body apparel and go topless to make him relevant as Big Daddy V. Indeed, professional wrestling is not a business for people with hang-ups and inhibitions. Pro wrestling is a larger than life spectacle of high athletics and the art of physicality that is made extravagant by the magnifying glass that it is viewed through.

Those looking to enter the world of professional wrestling also need to ask themselves whether they have the time and resources to invest into the schooling schedule. We have had several hopefuls in Finland alone apply for schooling to become a wrestler, only to have them skip classes for whatever reason and show up randomly expecting to pick up where they last left off. Of course, this is just plain stupidity and should be penalized. Not a single sport out there allows for such behavior, and unless the wrestling hopeful has the required resources of time and capital to attend classes regularly for the duration of the schooling period, they should seriously reconsider their dream. I have personally shown the door to students in the past who have not been able to apply themselves regularly to the set schooling schedule. There is no room for lukewarm sluggishness, nor is there toleration for laziness. The playing field and rules thereof are the same for everyone, regardless of gender, age or physical make-up. Either do it full-out, or don’t do it at all I say.

There is also a very false notion out there that professional wrestling is somehow ”fake” and that real pain is not involved. This fallacy is quickly shed by anyone and everyone that enters professional wrestling training, as our game is indeed one of pain. Not just pain, but pain tolerance. I myself have endured eight concussions to date in my professional in-ring career dating back to 1994. I have been knocked silly in certain matches, and I have fought through to the end, regardless of my physical condition. I have entered matches with torn ligaments, hurting from head to toe, cramped up muscles that resound with numbing shock after each bump, and I still have endured and passed with flying colors. Why? Because I have wanted it enough and because I prize the title of being a ”professional” wrestler.

My former coach Lance Storm runs the top wrestling school in Canada today, The Storm Wrestling Academy. Lance told me of a hopeful that entered his school back in 2006 who believed that wrestling was fake. After less than a week, this certain somebody quit because it wasn’t fake enough for him, as Lance so aptly pointed out.

So really, before anyone out there scampers to take part in a wrestling try-out, consider the message and points that I have laid out here. Failure to do so will translate into heartache, headache and disillusionment.

Those who feel that they have what it takes to try out for pro wrestling in Finland and want to get trained properly by a school with a proven track record, send an open application about yourself along with 2 current photos showcasing your physical condition to gm (at) fightclubfinland (dot) com.

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