Flip Bump Fury: Journey Of A Newbie Wrestler
At the age of 34, Robert might have left it too late to try for a career in wrestling, but that hasn't stopped him from doing that all important thing: trying.
Have you ever been sitting watching the stars of WWE, NJPW, ROH, or any of your favourite independent wrestling companies and thought to yourself, “I would love to be able to do what these guys do”? I know when I was a little kid and I would turn the television on to WWF Superstars every Saturday morning, I would dream of a day where I too could get inside of a wrestling ring and entertain crowds just like my heroes at the time.
I remember thinking that I could one day follow in the footsteps of my hero Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who was born in Calgary, Alberta Canada, just like I was. One of the biggest obstacle when I was younger growing up in Canada, though, was a lack of real information as to where to go and how to go about getting into the business, whereas these days it is a little easier to hop on the internet and look up the information you require. I also did not come from a family with a background in the wrestling business either – in my family it was either soccer (football) or boxing and that was about it. Wrestling was looked at as nothing more than just another tv show to my parents so how was I ever going to go about finding my way in?
The start of my journey as a young Canadian happened some 16 years ago as I was coming to the end of my time in high school. I had spent a couple of years wrestling with my high school wrestling team and trust me I was far from good, I think I spent more of my time in wrestling looking up at the ceiling than I did looking at trophies in my closet. My end goal was never to be known as the guy with all the trophies, though. I wanted to be the guy who applied what I learned to my desire to become a professional wrestler.
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At the age of 18, I was given the opportunity to test out what it is like to get inside of a ring when I took on a mini camp. These camps, when you first go to them, are not there to teach you all the holds and moves that you see each week on the television, they are usually the first step to weeding out who has the ability to learn and who does not. These camps are not for the weak at heart because you will work hard, you will hurt, and you will have to pull yourself back up and ask for more. At 18 it was a great experience to step inside of a ring and get the feeling of my very first bump, but at the end of it all, I chose not to continue down the path of being a professional wrestler.
I could bore you with all of the details of my personal life and the troubles my family were facing at the time, but I made the decision to stick close to my family as opposed to travelling further to pursue my dream. It is a decision that I look back on and often wonder what would have happened had I stuck with it – what could I have become? At the age of 34 now, would I still be wrestling and where exactly would I be in the grand scheme of it all? It is easy enough to look back and wonder why you did not pursue something, but it is even harder when you get older to go and try to pursue your old dreams.
There was always another dream I had on top of wanting to become professional wrestler and that was to become a published writer, a dream that was realized recently when my first article was published here for Cultured Vultures.
I did not know exactly where this would all take me, but within a short amount of time I took opportunities to reach out to people online and get my name out there within the wrestling community. It was around Wrestlemania weekend when I wrote about the current run of Chris Jericho’s career that business started to truly pick up for me, Chris Jericho retweeted out my article which was a blessing in disguise for me as a writer and also as a personality of any kind among the world of Professional Wrestling. I was starting to have more people (wrestlers included) interact with me and wanting to chat with me about my opinions regarding wrestling. I always thought it was easy to just sit back and write about something that you and I see on the television, but someone has gone through what these men and women do every day of their lives it is hard to truly understand the business and what they experience.
It was also around this same time that a young up and coming wrestler by the ring name of Candid Chris Summers walked into the shop where I work. He was looking to see if our shop would allow him to hang up posters for the local HIW Canada Wrestling events in our area. Our shop said yes and Chris and I got to talking about wrestling and instantly clicked as friends. Through my friendship with Chris Summers, I then got introduced to more of the wonderful wrestlers and people behind the scenes at HIW Canada as well.
I got to realize that this was the real deal as many people here are the ones who are that next step closer in their careers to being the ones we watch on television. Names such as Michael Richard Blais, who appeared on a recent episode of RAW and NXT, Giselle Shaw, who has worked around the world, and Michael Allen Richard Clark, who very well could be the longest and next name you hear of in the world of professional wrestling.
These are the very people who had put in their time and were living out their dreams. I then was provided with an opportunity to write some local pieces about upcoming HIW shows and was invited to come down and check the shows out as well. To my absolute amazement, HIW Canada strive to do what they can to produce a high quality show even on a very local level – these guys and gals are the real deal and truly want people to appreciate and respect what they do.
A few weeks ago, it was announced that HIW Canada would be hosting a mini-camp for those wanting to learn how to become a professional wrestler. At the age of 34 and being a larger man (around 300 pounds), I was not quick to think that it was a great idea for me to get into, but a part of me thought that maybe I want to learn it all and look at the possibility of becoming a wrestling manager.
I was always a good talker, which I picked up when I was in drama classes growing up, so a managerial role seemed like it would be right up my alley. This is where people need to keep in mind that whether you want to be a manager, referee, wrestler, or any part of the show itself then you need to take the exact same training that every wrestler takes. I decided that I was going to take on the camp to see if I could push myself through it and see if I still had the desire afterwards. I made the call to the trainer and told him I wanted to book a spot at the training session.
As a full disclosure, at the time of writing this article I myself am not a trained professional as I have not taken my full training. The advice I am giving here is very beginner level and by no means should be taken as gospel because every place trains differently. Never consider yourself to be trained after you first start out because you are not yet trained; you are just starting out and that is what the aim of my article is about and that is how to get yourself started on your path to professional wrestling.
Come prepared, get to the training session ahead of schedule and make sure you are changed into your gear and ready to begin as soon as the trainer requires you to be. Never be the guy who shows up 10-15 minutes late because trainers in wrestling will not appreciate it and there is a good chance they will just tell you to turn around and leave. Part of being prepared is making sure your body is stretched out as well. It is not the responsibility of the trainer to go through stretches with you, so you need to prepare yourself beforehand. I was previously a soccer (football) player and coach for many years so I used many of the same warm up stretches that we use to prepare players for practice and games. If you are not sure what stretches to do then take a quick look around the web and you will find many great resources to teach you proper stretches for your body before doing any type of physical activity.
Eat light or do not eat at all. This is something to follow very strictly for a couple of good reasons. The first reason should be obvious and that is you will not have opportunity to run back and forth to the bathroom if you just shovelled down a breakfast meal and the last thing you want is for nature to call while you are bumping your body. The other reason you want to avoid eating big or at all is because I promise you on day number one you will get sick at some point. I chose not to eat that morning, but had I done so, I would have easily been very sick. At two points I had to run to a washroom to regain composure and splash water on my face as I felt physically sick to my stomach and like I was about to pass out. I was dry heaving because the training is hard on every single part of your body and the weight of most foods is only going to work against you in. One other guy during the session I was in obviously had made the mistake of eating before coming in, which left him rushing to the bathroom and even not quite making it there. I know it sounds disgusting, but it is the reality of it – you need to be aware of this before going in for your first session.
Make sure you are clean before you show up. Take a shower before and after your session. It is easy to just have a shower after the session but there is nothing worse than working out with people who are not completely clean before showing up. Before you show up, make sure you shower, have clean gym clothes, trimmed your nails, and anything else you need to do in order to be the best you can before stepping inside of that ring.
Do not ever expect to go to the start of training and immediately learn holds or anything of that sort. They will come later on with further training. What you can expect is to do a lot of bumping – you will hit that mat and you will hit it hard and you will continue to do that again and again. Some people probably wonder what it feels like to take a bump and, while it is hard to explain exactly, it is not exactly pleasant by any means, especially the very first few you take. All your weight dropping down to the mat repeatedly like that will make you sore and not always immediately either. In fact, you can expect the pain to settle in by the next day or the day after that, even.
I cannot stress this one enough, but if you are someone who has a tendency to talk back, not listen, or speak out of turn then do not even bother showing up at all as you are wasting the trainers’ time entirely. If the trainer asks you to do something, you better be prepared to give it everything you have got. Do not quit, do not say no, and never doubt yourself because you are more capable than you understand. The first day is when the trainer finds out just how much heart you have. They are trying to find out who is easy to break and who is willing to as the terrible old song goes “get knocked down but get up again”. There is a lot of hard work that goes in and you will have to participate in it all, no questions asked. I mentioned before that I am 300 pounds and 6’3, but I have also had two back injuries, and I have broken and sprained both of my ankles more times than I am able to count. When I was there doing this training, my old injuries were a setback for me and my weight was also a factor against me.
I am not looking for sympathy as I am the only one who can change my weight and get myself in shape and it is exactly what I have been working on doing. I am not going to sugarcoat any of this, either, as there were times in my session where my body was telling me that it was time to shut it all down and give up, but my heart kept telling me there was no chance in hell that I am going to fit the stereotype of the big guy who gives up. I pushed through the pain and I did exactly what was asked of me, from the in-ring bumps, to the extreme cardio training – I pushed through it all. When you feel weak at times or like you’re going to pass out, being honest with your trainer and saying you need a quick minute to compose yourself is not a bad thing. Most trainers would prefer you be honest with them and tell them that you need a quick moment to regain yourself. Go splash some water on your face, shake the cobwebs off, man or woman up and get your ass back in there to do it all again.
These rules are good ways to get started and things that I followed when it came to giving this all a go recently. I even at 34 and my weight was able to do multiple flip bumps, or as I call it, 300 pounds of Flip Bump Fury, I made it work though by focusing my mind and telling myself “you can do this”.
At the time of writing this article, I am wanting to pursue my opportunity to train further and possibly become a wrestling manager, but it means there is a lot more required from me. I now have to go about investing in proper ring gear which means actual Wrestling based pants, shorts, or singlet. hen there will also be kneepads, boots, and then elbow pads if I wish to keep the elbows well protected which at my age would likely be a very smart choice. Continued training is not free either, it will cost you to continue to train as the trainers’ time does not come free, so you will need to be prepared to invest in yourself, which can sometimes be difficult, but if you truly want this for yourself then you will find a way.
If you read this and figure you do not want to get in the business anymore, well, that is perfectly okay, because fans are just as important to wrestling as what the performers and behind the scenes workers are. I would encourage anyone that is a fan, if you have an opportunity, to go to one of these camps to try it out. Even if you have little or no desire to ever become professional wrestler, I encourage you to and give it a try just to get a feel for what these men and women put on the line each and every night for our entertainment. It is easy for any of us to criticize things we watch, but until you have truly given it a try, you do not fully understand what it is like. Get out there and give it a try and you will find a brand new-found respect for the business.