Things I learned about life from watching Pro Wrestling
Happy New Year from the baseballmike staff!
Today's post is a slight digression from the usual postings,,,
Professional wrestling has been maligned for years. Few people openly admit to watching, or even attending the matches, yet they get big television ratings and attendance numbers at their venues, so someone is watching.
I admit I used to watch professional wrestling. I am not ashamed of it. I haven't watched it recently, so I don't know any of the stories/rivalries/grudges going on...but I know they exist in that realm. These performers are very good at what they do, and they are extremely athletic. It's a far cry from the wrestlers of my youth, where personality and charisma trumped physical prowess. Today's wrestling involves more gravity defying stunts than even twenty years ago. In that way, much like baseball, the state of the game has changed drastically in recent years.
Anyway, I was thinking a while back, about the things I have learned from watching pro wrestling. Life lessons, if you will, and I will share the five main things with you here. (A departure from baseball statistics and analysis, but please excuse my digression) I firmly believe that these lessons should be learned, and accepted, which is easier said than done. they are a part of the human condition, and while it may seem whimsical, I truly believe these are important life lessons.
- During my formative years watching wrestling, the delineation between heel and face was simple. Heel=bad guy, Face, or Baby Face=good guy. For the most part, you knew who you were supposed to cheer for. There were some exceptions along the way, and some people just like cheering for the bad guys. Sometimes, however, during the course of these matches, the bigger the match, the more often it happens, the baby-face would get into a situation, and the referee may be distracted by the heel's manager/valet/brother/friend, and doesn't get to see the mauling of the hero until it was too late. Sometimes, the heel would do something to infuriate the good guy, and the good guy in his zeal to exact revenge of the heel, that he might throw the referee out of the way, incapacitating said referee for a short time, enough for the heel to get some help. so the first thing I learned: The referee doesn't always see everything.
- In following with the above theme, sometimes the good guy was portrayed as an All-American type lad, being pitted against a nationalistic rival (Russian, Iranian, Iraqi, etc.) and jingoism would run rampant. If you were a red-blooded American, there was no way you would root against the menacing threat from a foreign power. (forget the fact that the two foes may have been tag-team partners in another territory a few years earlier. The good guy would come to the ring, patriotic music filling the arena, chants of U-S-A bouncing off the rafters, and our hero carrying, or maybe even dressed in a the stars and stripes announcing to everyone that our national hero was bout to enter the squared circle. His opponent, enters the arena to even louder U-S-A chants, boos and debris raining down upon him as he sneers at and yells at the fans at ringside. The two combatants enter the ring, to cheers and jeers. The bell rings, the match begins and the jingoistic, blood-thirsty fans are clamoring for the bad guy's head. Then, as sometimes happens, there is a surprise outcome. All-American boy loses the match. Lesson number two: The good guy doesn't always win.
- Every now and then in life, you may be in a situation where you're outnumbered. It doesn't have to be as ominous as in a Texas Death Steel Cage Match type of situation, but can happen quite often. Perhaps as simple as a conversation where two people have a different opinion on a subject than you do. It may be a work thing, with a different approach on a project, it may be a sandlot football game where two players are covering you. the examples are many. Well, as I saw and learned while watching pro wrestling, in tag-team matches (where two or more teams of two or more wrestlers competed against each other, tagging their teammate to take their place in the match as needed/wanted) is that double-teams happen. What that means is that sometimes, you will be in a situation where you are 'attacked' from more than one person at once. Again, doesn't have to be a physical beat down. It can be being overwhelmed in a three way conversation. And just because you are right (or truly believe you're right) that doesn't make you immune to this. See the first two lessons. It leads us to the third lesson, which is: Sometimes, you're get double-teamed.
- This one really needs no explanation, so instead, I will share an anecdote with you instead. While watching the old "Superman" television show, there was an episode where these bad guys got this great idea to wear lead masks, since Superman was unable to use his X-Ray vision through the lead. Several of these hardened criminals spread out among Metropolis, and went into a variety of banks. One or two of these hoodlums actually robbed the banks they entered. Once again, Superman would be unable to identify them because of the lead masks. However, to my analytical nine year-old mind, I realized that lead masks would be incredibly heavy, and incredibly sweaty, so old Superman could just pick up any overly sweaty goons, especially those with sore necks. But not to be outdone, Inspector Henderson of the crack Metropolis Police Department, twenty minutes into the thirty minute episode, decides to put out a All Points Bulletin for his officers to pick up anyone they saw wearing a lead mask. Wrestling history of full of masked performers, on both sides of the ring. Both heroes and heels donned masks throughout the heyday of wrestling. Most die-hard fans knew who the wrestlers were under the masks, but the mystique of the mask added to the aura of mystery. Of course, a lot of those matches had the opponents trying to remove the mask from the prone wrestler, but rarely did they ever succeed. The great Mexican wrestler, Mil Mascaras (A Thousand Masks) appeared in several movies, donning the mask in all of his roles. He one time had is mask pulled of during a match, only to have another one in place underneath. Who would have guessed? Anyway, lesson four: Never trust anyone wearing a mask.
- This last, and most important of all lessons I gleaned from a radio interview I heard with a former champion. He had someone call in and say how wrestling was fake, and how everything was pre-determined. So his response was classic. Without breaking character, he asked if the caller was a football fan. he was. So the wrestler said, OK, your team has the ball. The quarterback is going to take the snap, drop back and throw a pass to the receiver cutting across mid-field fifteen yards down the field. The receiver will jump, in stride, and catch the ball, and the defender will put his shoulder into his ribs and take him to the ground right away. he said, "I just told you what was going to happen. You know it. The quarterback knows it, the receiver knows it. Everyone knows it. But you're going to watch it anyway." And he was right. We all know it. But we watch it anyway. Sometimes, during the course of a lifetime, you will be in a situation where you see something coming, but are powerless to stop it. Have you ever been in a car accident, where you're going at normal speed, and then just before the impact, time seems to slow down and you are living in what seems to be slow motion, only for it to speed back up for the impact? Or seen a loved one deal with something serious, where you are unable to help in any way, then it goes horribly wrong, and you can do nothing but pick up the pieces afterwards. Or have a friend or loved one deal with a loss and have to stand by while they go through their grieving process, where no matter what you do offers no solace. Sometimes, people just need to navigate those waters alone, with you as a lighthouse for them, but they are too far from shore for your help at the moment. The last lesson I learned from watching pro wrestling is: Just because you know it's coming, doesn't mean it's not going to hurt.
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