In Mexico it’s called Lucha. In Japan there is puro resu love. And in the United States it’s just called Pro-Wrestling. I’ve been a wrestling fan since the ’80’s. I remember watching Ricky ‘The Dragon” Steamboat roll up some guy for the win and I was hooked. The on coming years would introduce me to goliaths like Andre the Giant, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts-all considered legends today. Years would pass and younger wrestlers rose in rank and the older guys faded out of the picture.
I couldn’t get enough. The local video stores (sort of like Netflix but an actual store that rented large box-like VHS tapes) carried a few pay-per-views. My Dad would rent a few movies and if I was lucky, and often I was, I could rent a Wrestlemania or Summer Slam. But one store in-particular carried another wrestling organization and I was introduced to a whole other group of wrestlers. The story telling was much alike-good guy versus bad guy, over-the-top pageantry, and theme songs. There was too much to appreciate at such a young age but I knew I liked it.
Fast forward to years later and I was still enthralled in the world of wrestling. I wanted to be a wrestler. Friends came over and we practiced the moves. I even practiced on the boxing bag I’d torn down from too much karate. It, too, had graduated to pro-wrestling, from side kicks to suplexes. Of course back then the wrestling business was still quite protected from the outside world. Some people even believed it was still real. Not to mention this was all before the wonders of the internet. How little did I realize that my home state was a hot bed for pro-wrestling.
I moved on with other interests, but wrestling was always there. When I moved to Oregon I finally found an opening. I’d hoped to find Rowdy Roddy Piper but instead I found a wrestling school ran by two older legends: Playboy Buddy Rose and Colonel DeBeers. I wasn’t too familiar with DeBeers, but Buddy Rose had been a vanishing act when I was younger. Later as I dived into wrestling history and matches I’d learn of Rose’s contributions to the wrestling industry. He’d been a cornerstone of wrestling in the North West and many of the wrestlers that had come through the area were better for working with him.
I daydreamed at the idea of training under two legends and starting my own indy wrestling career. I emailed the school and gotten a brief response about cost and times. I never expected to receive a phonecall from Buddy Rose himself one day while driving. It wasn’t a long conversation, but it was telling. It placed me at a crossroads in my life. Buddy Rose invited me to come to a training session and gave me his personal phone number. I never made that leap. Life took a different path. But I look back fondly on that small glimmer at a wrestling window.
That wasn’t the end of my wrestling love though. Along the years my wrestling obsession had lent a hand at taking a real in depth look at what it takes. The point of it all is to bring fans in to pay for shows (or present day-buying shirts, clothes, and toys). The weekly shows are meant to sucker fans into buying the pay-per-views. To do that they have to garner major interests. At the heart of the matter it is a television show and needs massive amounts of story telling. The entire show must stand on its own. Each feud has a story that evolves. Each match needs to tell a physical story in the ring that interacts with the fans. In many ways it’s like writing in general; interesting characters, protagonists, antagonists, plot, subplot, character arcs and so forth. Very rarely do characters stay the same for years. They have to be unique and interesting to survive the cut. And if feuds aren’t interesting they flounder and are easily forgotten and both wrestlers/characters suffer.
I can’t say that pro-wrestling taught me how to write, but it has taught me a lot about telling an ever-evolving story and cause and effect. Characters react to events emotionally and physically both in the ring and within promos and acting. And the wrestlers that stand out the most are the ones with the best stories and the largest characters. Ones fans loved and respected and cared enough about to actually spend money to see more of them. These are the types of complex character I want to write and the stories I want to tell.
Tags: lucha, puro, wrestling