I had my first singles match yesterday. It was the first time I really started reconsidering this strange, fascinating world of wrestling I’d involved myself in.
I didn’t know exactly what happened, but he landed way harder than he was supposed to. It knocked the wind out of me, and the pain was intense. I’d taken this move, but it’d never hurt this much. At least the next one wouldn’t be as bad. I watched my opponent climb to the top rope, jump and flip. About halfway through his rotation, I realized he wasn’t flipping far enough. Then he landed on my ribs ass first. I couldn’t breathe for the next five seconds. I couldn’t think of anything but “Yep, my rib’s broken.” I rolled around in the centre of the ring, trying to get a grip on the pain. My opponent grabbed me, put me in a pin and won the match, as planned. The roar of the crowd started to creep into my senses as I stopped focusing solely on the pain. I’d done my job.
I’m a heel. I’m the bad guy who makes the good guys look good. In this specific match, I targeted his leg (the left, of course) with strikes and submission attempts, like a bad guy in a terrible MMA movie. It worked. I came across as a cheating, despicable asshole. The crowd didn’t like me, and they let me know. I’d put a lot of effort over the past few months learning various wrestling moves and techniques. If I was going to put you in a hold, I wanted to do so perfectly. But in this match, my third one now, I took more opportunities to really work the crowd. Because being a wrestler isn’t just about convincingly fighting your opponent, as I’m finding out. It’s about getting your character across.
It’s not always simple. I didn’t know exactly what to do on my way to the ring, I definitely got destabilized when I heard my old walk-out song rather than the new one I’d selected. This was my first time walking out alone (my debut match was a tag team event). There was definitely more I could have done. Instead, I settled on walking silently, wearing an expression of disgust and contempt. Who were these people, who didn’t appreciate the privilege of being in the presence of Nick Ravage? That was the attitude that carried me through the match and helped me do my job.
For the first few hours following the match, my aching ribs left a bad taste in my mouth. I started seriously wondering why I was involved in this crazy business. Why did I put myself on the line like that? This was the closest I’d gotten to being seriously injured, there was so much worse that could have happened. My doubts were mitigated by the great wrestlers around me backstage. “Backstage” being a tarp of sorts drawn over the side of a shed. But seeing their passion for what they were doing, combined with the passion of the crowd as they showed their appreciation makes it all seem worthwhile. And to be fair, it was really my fault I got hurt. I didn’t place myself in the ring properly anyway. My opponent still apologized profusely.
I came close to walking away. I got a glimpse of the abyss, the real difficulty and hardship that comes with this business. But if I can take this kind of punishment and keep going, what can any career throw at me that I can’t handle?