Triple H

The arena lights black out. The bell tolls and smoke rolls into the aisle. A crack of thunder and flash of lighting. The funeral dirge creeps in as a figure in black appears. The camera cuts to the crying faces of children in the crowd.

What Makes Me Proud to Be a Wrestling Fan

As a young kid myself, I have just experienced one of the greatest spectacles in all of professional wrestling — the entrance of the Undertaker.

Whereas some kids might read comic books and others watch professional sports to find their superheroes, I had professional wrestling. For good or bad — and there has been a great deal of bad — I was enamored. From the Undertaker’s entrance and for the next dozen or so years, I found many things that didn’t embarrass me to be a wrestling fan. Even now that I have grown out of watching wrestling on television, there are still a few moments that give me chills. Here are a few examples taken from when I was at my most heated as a wrestling fan.

Wrestlers that made me proud to be a fan

Chris Jericho – The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla is an incredible performer and fantastic on the mic. I became a fan when he was in WCW and misspoke all of his opponents and stayed a fan when his matches were regularly the most exciting to see on any show.

Mankind – In each of his characters, Mick Foley endured a great deal of unnecessary pain to bring a dose of realism to every match. As Cactus Jack he flew onto concrete and into Japanese death matches, but as Mankind he took what could have been just another cheesy WWE gimmick and created a genuine character. It is too bad that he will probably be remembered for his fall off the top of Hell in a Cell as he was great at drawing you into how real a wrestling match could be.

Stone Cold Steve Austin – Stone Cold was a machine and he made wrestling popular for everyone to be a fan.

The Undertaker – This is another gimmick that could have hit the garbage chute with the likes of the Red Rooster and Doink the Clown. A big part of the fun of pro wrestling is the outrageous characters, but there is a fine line to tread between outrageous and insipid. The Undertaker defines how a pro wrestler can become an attraction by himself.

Shawn Michaels – On pure athletic ability, nobody can deny that Shawn Michaels is incredible. His matches are always exciting. The prime example of what can make wrestling greater than what it appears to be.

Match Gimmicks that made me proud to be a fan

Ladder Match – I had never seen anything like a ladder match until Shawn Michaels versus Razor Ramon. When you begin to add metal ladders and the threat of falling from said 10-foot high ladder, some of the complaint about how wrestling is fake gets thrown out the window.

Hardcore Battle Royal – I am thinking of a specific WWE match that was a lot of fun and is the reason behind someone like Crash Holly becoming a 20-something-time hardcore champion. It also began the storyline of the hardcore championship being defended 24/7. A specific favorite was Crash Holly running from several would-be champions through a Chuck E. Cheese type establishment. Now I am not necessarily proud, nor does that make wrestling look anymore authentic. It was just a lot of fun.

Those are a few examples, there are actually many more. I also tend to enjoy the things that make wrestling look ridiculous. As long as its fun, that is the only real requirement.

Sumo wrestler in Japan

This martial art form is known to have originated in Japan hundreds of years ago. It holds, to this day a great religious importance for the Japanese. Certain rituals like using salt to purify are still followed by Sumo Wrestlers. These rituals are part of the Shinto religion.

This type of wrestling is known to have influenced other martial art forms in the neighboring countries like Chinese Shuai Jiao, Korean Ssireum and Mongoliam wrestling.

Back in the 8th century when Sumo, or Sumai as it was known then was practiced, there were less number of rules involved. The men would fight till death. Hence a wrestler losing in a Sumo match is called a Shini-tai meaning a dead body.

In the present day too, some shrines perform ritual dance when a man wrestles with a Shinto God or Kami. This is known as Sumai party or Sechie. In olden times this was held in the imperial court. It was mandatory for every province to send their representative to attend the ceremony. In those times, Sumo formed a part of training for warriors, who were known as Samurai. When Sumo wrestling first began, the Rikishi or wrestler had to throw the opponent to win.

Rule Changes for Modern Sumo

Later the rules were improvised to pushing the contestant out of the ring. The concept of Dohyo or ring was introduced in the 16th century. The Dohyo is filled with sand and clay and after every tournament, the sand is distributed to fans as souvenirs.

It is the Yobidashi’s responsibility to ready the ring for matches and training stables. If both wrestlers touch ground at same time, the contestant in upper position becomes the winner. If a wrestler uses illegal methods or Kinjite or his belt gives way, he is declared a loser.

Rikishis of olden times wore loin clothes as against the Mawashi, a kind of firm clothing worn by contemporary wrestlers. The rules and regulations for Sumo wrestling as a game were developed during Edo period and are pretty much followed till date.

The matches last for few minutes only as it is easy for the stronger contestant to throw or push the opponent outside the ring. A huge body mass over good wrestling skills is a great advantage. Wrestlers grow long hair and tie them up in a topknot, similar to the Edo Period Samurais.

Sumo Wrestling Attire

Rikishis dress according to their ranks and wear geta, wooden sandals as footwear. Trainees help with the responsibilities in the Sekitori and have to wake up early. Rikishis do not have breakfast but splurge on a Chakonabe, a large lunch consisting of different kinds of fish, meat, vegetables and rice. They consume excessive amounts of food and beer to gain high weights. This practice is known to have ill-effects on health, especially after the Sumo stops training, as discovered recently. The lifespan of a sumo is cut short by 10 years shorter when compared to ordinary Japanese. They often suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes etc. Keeping this in mind, weight standards of a Sumo Wrestler have been decreased enormously in recent times.

Retired sumo wrestlers called Oyakata have developed the Japan Sumo Association which holds tournaments and trains wrestlers. Wrestlers are ranked, promoted or demoted depending on their performance in the Grand Tournaments. The 6 divisions in decreasing order are Makuuchi, Juryo, Makushita, Sandanme, Jonidan and Jonokuchi. Each year 6 Honbasho (Grand Sumo tournaments) are held, 3 at Ryogoku Kokugikan – The Sumo Hall, 1 each in Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya. Foreigners too have participated in these tournaments, with the first one being Takamiyama from Hawaii.

Pro wrestler leaping off ropes

Professional wrestling is a very popular form of entertainment. In the United States, over 6 million people watch professional wrestling on television each week. The most popular company that provides weekly television programming is the WWE, also known as World Wrestling Entertainment. They produce three hours of original programming, fifty two weeks a year, to the USA cable network. Their WWE Monday Night Raw show accounts for almost 3.5 million viewers.

The other companies that produce weekly episode is Spike TV’s Impact Wrestling, as well as Ring Of Honor. The popularity of professional wrestling, also known as sports entertainment, has spawned many athletes, both male and female, to look into a career in the wild world of wrestling.

These are the steps one must take to become a professional wrestler.

See Your Doctor

The first thing you should do if you’re going to get into professional wrestling is to visit your primary care physician. It is imperative that you get a full physical from your doctor. Pro wrestling is a highly physical activity, and is stressful on your muscles and joints. Getting a full physical from your doctor or local hospital will provide you with information about your body and health. You will then be able to make the proper decision if wrestling is right for you.

Gym, Tan and Wrestle

After you’ve been cleared by your primary care physician to wrestle, the next step you must take is to get into proper shape. Although it is widely known that pro wrestling is predetermined, it is far from fake. Every year, many of these pro athletes get injured in the ring. To help prevent this, you should get a gym membership. Working out three or four times a week for an hour will keep your body in great condition. In addition, pro wrestling is just as much about appearance as it is about talent. Use this opportunity to get your body looking its best.

School Of Hard Knocks And Headlocks

The next step in becoming a professional wrestler is a very important one. In fact, it may be the most important part in accomplishing your goal. You must seek out proper training. There are a lot of professional wrestling schools operating all over the nation. Many of these training facilities are run by guys who have never accomplished anything in the world of sports entertainment. Do your research before going to a school. Ask for references. A legit school will be more than happy to provide you with a list of talent they have produced. You should choose the school that has an adequate trainer. When a pro wrestler retires from WWE, the pro wrestler will usually open a school in their area. Such is the case with Spike Dudley. The former WWE and ECW star now runs a wrestling school in Fall River, Massachusetts.

You Are Your Own Business

After you’ve enrolled in a pro wrestling training school are ready to have wrestling matches, you need to start making connections. Don’t be afraid to ask other wrestlers for contacts of other companies. The more you get booked in wrestling matches, the more popular you will become. You must remember that as a pro wrestler, you are in the business of selling yourself. You are your own business and product. Advertise yourself as a competent pro wrestler who will add value and a unique edge to an event. Also, don’t forget to use the internet to your advantage. Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are a great way to get your name out to people who may never have heard of you. And it’s free.

If you have followed all these steps, you should be well on your way to becoming a professional wrestler. Just remember that fame and fortune won’t happen overnight. The bright lights of celebrity can only be obtained by hard work and accomplishing your goals. Be sure to keep a positive attitude and take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. With luck, one day you’ll be one of the stars of WWE’s Monday Night Raw.

There are many things about professional wrestling that are widely held beliefs that are not necessarily true, but because they’ve been talked about or mentioned over and over, they become ingrained in wrestling fans.

The wrestling fans I’m talking about in particular are Internet fans, but some of the myths can “affect” more casual fans as well. This column will take a look at some of the wrestling myths and the truth behind the myths.

Myth #1: 1999 was a great year for WWE programming

Truth: The truth is that while the ratings were at record peaks for WWE, the style of “sports entertainment” that was promoted is not a lasting style. To put another way, in 2009, there is no way that the type of skits and matches that were produced by WWE at that time would be accepted today. Especially when one considers that the ratings war is over and even the”trainwreck” segments that could draw ratings even now just hurt the companies ability to draw money in the long run. Bra and Panties matches, transvestites doing sexual favors, matches that last less than three minutes and human sacrifices are among the types of segments that made waves back then, which would draw groans now.

WWE was successful because of Steve Austin, the Rock, Degeneration X and Vince McMahon for the most part. That is not to say the idea of the content on WWE programming wasn’t the right idea at the right time when one considers Jerry Springer and South Park both reached major levels of popularity around the time of the WWE attitude era. The bottom line is that the type of content WWE delivered is the least sustainable of any of the successful eras in wrestling history. To put it another way, even though ratings were a bit down in 2000, 2000 was much better in terms of drawing money because there was more of a focus on wrestling and not just in-ring action, but promos designed not just to entertain but to build matches as well. If 1999 drew better on Pay per View, then that would be something else altogether and it would be difficult to say that 1999 was not strong programming. Another thing that got better as time went on is the work in the mid-card. There are no more three-minute matches with the Godfather and the Blue Meanie. In 2000 there were 10-15 minute matches with Eddie Guerrero and today there are 10-15 minute matches with CM Punk or Matt Hardy.

Myth #2: Moves make the wrestler

Truth: There is nothing wrong with having a lot of moves. There is something wrong with trying to use them all in a five minute match which is often seen in the independents and even in TNA. There are many wrestlers that do a lot without using a lot of moves. Of course in WWE, wrestlers have to know how to put on good matches without doing too much, but it is an effective style of wrestling and storytelling.

Finlay is one of the best workers in the world and it is not because of his “moveset”, it’s because of his selling and his snug work in terms of strikes and clotheslines. For example Finlay is a better worker than someone like Petey Williams or Sonjay Dutt because he is smarter and he knows how to make less mean more. MVP and Matt Hardy are two more examples of wrestlers that put on quality matches on a weekly basis without using many moves. The most important qualities of a wrestler are selling (99 percent of the time-there are exceptions like Hulk Hogan) and timing.

Myth #3: The divas are all interchangeable

Truth: The truth is that while many of the divas have similar characters, there are distinguishing characteristics that would be noticeable if one actually pays attention to the shows. Marsye is the cocky girl that thinks she is better than everyone because of her looks. Michelle McCool is the jock that thinks she is better than all of the models that are surrounding her on Smackdown. Beth Phoenix is the powerhouse that can beat up her boyfriend. Mickie James is the bubbly girl who can wrestle. Kelly Kelly is the girl next door type (she’s obviously the girl next door who models on the side, but still). Alicia Fox is the dancer. So as stated above, people have to pay attention and then they will see the differences.

Myth #4: HHH is a mediocre performer that is only in his position because of his family connections

Truth: Is HHH always in the title picture because of his marriage? Yes. With that said he does he deserve to have a top spot. He is a solid interview and usually puts on good matches. Not only that, but after being on top for five or six years he still drew big money with an unproven draw at the time in Batista. Is it too much at times? Of course and new stars do need to be created, but WWE trusts HHH as a family member and as a holdover of the last major successful period of WWE.

Myth #5: WWE doesn’t care about wrestling

Truth: At times it may seem WWE doesn’t care about quality wrestling with the pushes of Vladimir Koslov and Great Khali. At the same time it is smart to take a look at the main eventers of WWE. John Cena is a very good wrestler (and obviously underrated). Randy Orton is good. The Undertaker has actually improved with age. Edge, Shawn Michaels, Jeff Hardy, HHH, and Chris Jericho are all strong workers and Batista is certainly capable of having good matches with the right opponent.

On the subject of Koslov and Khali, Khali is out of main events and Koslov looks to be someone who is getting phased out in the next several weeks and months. You have to be able to put on quality main events to get a push in WWE. Is being a good wrestler the number one thing as opposed to look and other factors that the McMahons care about? No, but being a capable wrestler is number 1-A in especially the last few years. Many of the wrestlers in the middle of the card such as the Miz, John Morrison, the Colons, Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Evan Bourne, Rey Mysterio and Finlay among others are asked to fill 8-10 minutes of television time on a regular basis and of course it would be better if they were actually good wrestlers.

Myth #6: The brand-split should end.

Truth: The brand-split is the reason that the new stars that have been created were created as quickly as they were. Even the “chosen ones” such as Cena, Batista and Orton would have taken more time to become major stars if they had to share the spotlight with Michaels, HHH, Undertaker and each other all at the same time. It also allows for two different touring “companies” and when one considers that WWE Pay per Views have been basically the same even when combining all the brands, the potential is there if WWE gets really hot again to sell out arenas on both brands. Think of wrestlers such as CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibase, MVP and both of the Hardys, all of those wrestlers would have had trouble getting even a steady position in the mid-card under the old system. There is no way WWE should even consider getting rid of ECW because it is a good way to get a few veterans in many wrestlers who have potential. As has been stated by many wrestling experts/journalists, ECW is a glorified developmental system and should stay as such.