Screen capture of WWE Superstar John Cena and a twenty-something Marc Laferriere courtesy of Liam Newell
I have a deep dark secret. I’m a huge wrestling fan.
This may not be a big surprise to anyone who has become my friend on Facebook or Twitter. It’s not unusual to see me tweet with an almost-embarrassing giddiness about the latest Royal Rumble or Wrestlemania.
I’m a genuine fan and have been lucky enough to have been able to be a special guest ring announcer for some of CWIWrestling.com’s shows in Brantford and Caledonia. It was incredibly fun to be involved with the first Brawl at the Bush event they did and I’m excited to take to the Brantford Civic Centre to do more of the same on May 12th. The Civic Centre in Brantford is a well-known historical hot spot for wrestling. It was the arena where many of the WWE (then WWF’s) television tapings originated from in the 80’s. The CWI shows there are becoming in their own right a great local annual tradition.
But I have a deeper, darker secret too. I went to wrestling school for about 2 years.
It’s not something I’ve exactly hidden but it’s not something I’ve talked a lot about either. I still have my tights and boots in the basement but haven’t put them on in years. It was a long time ago but it took up a large part of my life when I was involved. I know this because I still get e-mails from non-fans I knew back then that say things like “I heard Mickey Rourke is wrestling,” or “is it true Snooki had a match?” Old friends often tell me they immediately think of me when they see something wrestling related on TV.
Here’s the funny thing about wrestling school – it’s really, really hard. I broke a rib and worked through it, suffered a severe ankle sprain, busted up my nose and hurt my back from the constant falls you take. Wrestling may be pre-determined and choreographed, but it’s also legitimately very rough.
Here is the other funny thing about my time at wrestling school – I learned a lot from it that is still incredibly useful.
The business of pro wrestling has a great deal of psychology, politics, promotion, and strong personalities. It can be cutthroat, but you also learn a lot about trust. You have to have a lot of trust when you give control of your body to someone else. It’s easy to get hurt or to hurt someone in the ring. Trust is paramount and, like in the rest of life, it’s something you earn.
I also learned that you can be a serious person, but that doesn’t mean you have to take yourself too seriously. Truth is you have to have fun. Wrestling was fun. I got to have a battle rap with John Cena (he won), produce a segment where Abdullah the Butcher literally ate a micro- phone and scared a Quebec beauty queen who was interviewing him out of the room.
One of my favourite memories was my first opportunity to interview a wrestling personality. It was with “Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning. In that interview I was nervous and I think he recognized that. His solution? He kept playing jokes on me on and off camera. He was hilarious. He’d be beaming his trademark smile and then he’d act mad or offended by a question I’d ask. Not just a little mad, but very mad. Then when he saw the genuine fear in my eyes that I’d offended him he’d start laughing. He’d ask me to cut and when we’d start again he’d grab the mic and start interviewing me. He pulled me aside and was very encouraging, telling me to relax and have fun with it. I had a blast. He had a blast and we both left laughing.
Lessons like that can serve you well.
Wrestling has been something that has stuck with me since I was a kid. Even though I don’t do it anymore, it’s followed me via the magic of television on all my travels and it has always been there as a place I can go weekly to just enjoy myself. I have a lot of young ones in my life who are starting to like it too and it is fun to see their excitement.
Sometimes ‘smart people’ bug me about my love of wrestling. I remind them tongue-firmly-in-cheek that technically I’m one of those ‘smart people’ too. I let slip that I have a few degrees including one in English Literature, and a Master’s. Then I tell them as difficult as it was to get those, wrestling school, for me, was more difficult. When I feel like getting huffy and puffy about it, I don’t. I’m lucky enough to have learned from someone once that it’s better to just relax and have fun with it.