The standard question when you meet someone and tell them that you’re a Wrestler is, ‘Oh, Wrestling is fake“. “You guys don’t really fall do you?” What a stupid question. No we don’t really fall, you just imagine that’s what you’re seeing. See we’re still standing in the ring. When I went over the ropes onto the floor, you just imagined it. Trickery, Magic, Illusion. Call it what you want. But then what the Hell do I do about the rope burns and the bruises from hitting the cement? Are those an illusion also?
I’ve been a Wrestler, Actor and Stuntman for over 30 years. All I ever hear is that Wrestling is fake. What about the special effects in films, the fights that Bruce Willis, Arnold S. and Mel Gibson have. You sit and watch them on film and don’t come out saying, that’s fake. You just enjoy it and appreciate the hard work these actors and stuntmen go through to make it work! I’ve done stunts jumping off trains, running and falling down hills, street fights with actors who don’t know how to throw a punch and really tag you in the eye. It’s staged work, but it’s hard and you do get hurt.
Wrestling on the other hand is different. What about those ‘Holds’, wrist lock, hammer lock, head lock, etc? I’ll tell you. Watch ‘COPS’ some night and see that they use the same holds as Wrestlers on those that they are apprehending. Yeah, those holds work!
A top wrist lock with a little pressure, can break your wrist. A hammer lock can pull you shoulder out of the socket. A front face lock, can instantly break your neck!
Ok, we’re in the ring working and you think it’s fake. Fake or not, it’s Wrestling and everything used in the ring can be used on the street for self defense! I’ve done it myself! Wrestling is the best combative sport for self defense that there is. Put a Wrestler up against a boxer, martial arts, or street fighter and the Wrestler will no doubt always win. Once you’ve got someone down, they’re useless when you apply a submission hold. Street fights always end up on the ground. That’s where the Wrestler takes charge and applies what he has learned. I was jumped once in a fast food restaurant when I first started Wrestling. Some punk took a swing at me. I grabbed his elbow and pushed his arm passed me and brought him down into a front face lock and lifted him off the ground. Within seconds it cut off his air and he was out cold. I thought I had killed him, but actually just put him out. It scared me to realize the capability that I had. I shy away from those situations now, but at least I know I can handle them, thanks to my training as a Wrestler.
Wrestling is one of the toughest most enduring sports you’ll ever see. How many people off the street or in the stands can get in the ring for 10 min and run ropes, do high spots, grab holds and go through a match like a trained wrestler? One out of 15,000?
Ever watch boxing and see a tiny jab out of nowhere knock out the opponent? You wonder where that came from. It looked like nothing. But it knocked the guy out. So what about a body splashoff of the top rope? Hell, that hurts! Especially if a knee or elbow sticks you. What about a clothesline and a back bump over the rope on to the cement? Is that fake? You saw the guy go over the rope and hit the cement and there’s nothing fake about it. You’ve got a GOOD chance of really hurting yourself. Yes, you’re trained to fall the right way, but it doesn’t always happen the right way. Many obstacles can get in your way.
One more thing. Not everyone in the ring is friendly. There are ‘egos’ and many people want to look their best. So there can be a ‘shoot‘ or fight as you know it to grab the hold first. This leads to some anger, and punches can be thrown a little harder than usual, and the same in return. Someone stiffs someone else and it escalates into a brawl. It may look fake and planned, but as I said, not always. Personalities clash and this creates problems. It happens all the time. No one really wants to lose or look bad so they fight for their position.
Wrestling night after night and year after year with different opponents and different styles, whether it’s fake or not is getting experience of working with other people who are strong and skilled. The more you practice punching, kicking and holds, the better you get at it and the more natural it feels. Therefore if you are ever confronted on the street by someone, you have the skill and experience to wipe the street up with that person, as the average citizen will never have the chance to learn what a Wrestler has learned.
So, is wrestling fake? It’s some what choreographed, but things do happen and I would tell anyone who asks me, ‘Let me put a hold on you and you tell me‘. They always backoff and say no. So next time you think Wrestling is fake, remember what I’ve said. Unless you want to step in the ring and see for your self. Not!
-Ric ‘The Equalizer‘ Drasin