Someone pointed out to me on facebook that I was on TV at the moment. A wrestling promotion I work for has a TV show that runs weekly and an episode I figure heavily into was running a replay.
I don’t say that to brag, but merely because…it got me thinking. I have been doing this for 10 years now, how much has changed between now and then?
In that spirit, a little bit about my first ever wrestling match.
This was to be an experience that I would be able to recall every detail of for the rest of my life. I was only eighteen when I had finally gotten the call for my first show. It was a small independent promotion based out of St. Louis, MO. The Mississippi Valley Wrestling Association, was one of the companies that my trainer, Scott, worked. It was short work making the call and letting the promoter know I was ready for my first match.
Now, it was simply a matter of when they could get me on a card. When the call finally came I was ecstatic, June 8th was D-day, I would finally fulfill my destiny-or so I thought.
As I walked into the small banquet hall that evening with Scott, I felt like a young boy on “bring your son to work” day. I walked into the building and realized how out of place I was. I was dressed as if going to my junior high homecoming; the other guys were dressed like you would imagine wrestlers would dress. I was wearing stripes and khakis; they were wearing worn tennis shoes and track pants. I felt like the accountant. I sat down quietly in a corner, away from everyone, and slowly got dressed for my match.
Over the buzz of the other wrestlers in the locker room, I went over Scott’s directions for the match. Again and again, as if on a loop, “Keep it Simple, You will be fine if you keep it simple.” I pulled my too-big kneepads on and hoped he was right.
In the final minutes before a show all the housekeeping is taken care of. All the wrestlers gather and go over the booking for the night: who is coming out first, who is winning, how long the matches are, who is running in. And then the boys discuss finishers, just to make sure no one steals heat by using someone else’s finisher earlier.
Finally the boys break off according to matches and discuss what was happening that night. Scott tried talking to me about our match, actually I am not even sure what we talked about. Scott might has well been speaking in Latin, as his words bounced off of me and fell harmlessly to the floor.
We were the first match and it was five minutes to opening bell, time to get into position.
I have never believed much in superstition, but sometimes the fates just seem to conspire against you. My breathing became fast as the announcer began introducing me to the crowd. I thought I was going to throw up when he said my name and I knew I had reached the point of no return. I suddenly heard my music start up, only it wasn’t quite my music. I had accidentally put the wrong CD in the case. Let me tell you, nothing disheartens a man faster than emotionally going from White Zombie to Tori Amos. I wanted hard driving metal to fuel the crowd into getting behind me, I got sensitive lyrics set to piano.
I still thought I could win over the fans, however. I really felt that if I went out there, they would instinctively cheer for me-the underdog. I quickly realized that wasn’t to be the case. I am not sure if it was the chorus of boo’s, or rather the constant affirmations that I sucked, or perhaps maybe the cups of beer being thrown at me-but I wasn’t feeling very accepted.
I stood in the ring and waited for “Blind” by Korn to start, signaling the entrance of my trainer and friend. Minutes stretched into seemingly hours as I waited out the instrumental opening. Once Scott came through the curtain I decided I would have rather waited a little longer. He was no longer my trainer and friend since I was twelve years old. Now he was Pain, and I was standing in his ring.
Truth be told, the action in the ring was less than spectacular. I threw some halfhearted offense at Scott and, to his credit; he tried to make it look good. Every weak looking clothesline was sold like a gunshot to the chest, every kick was sold as if delivered from Bruce Lee. But today, I wasn’t to get the win.
At seven minutes and thirty-hour seconds, the referee’s hand struck the mat for the third time. John Jeremy had been beaten in his first match. Bruised, bloody, and with my clothes nearly torn to shreds I stood up and looked around the ring. It was my ring too, now. I had bleed in that ring, and earned the right to be in it. Throwing caution to the wind, I didn’t care how I was going to look, or what people might think. I simply got in the ring and did what I set out to do. Earn my own respect.