Posts Tagged ‘Kurt Angle’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Real Wrestlers

January 12, 2015

WILPW

Real Wrestlers

I have touched upon this before but I have great respect for High School, Collegiate and Olympic wrestling.  I cringe every time that I see or hear it referred to as “amateur wrestling”.  There is nothing amateur about what can often be a high-speed, physical chess game with a crowd watching.  I wrestled in middle school and high school and it was probably the most physically demanding thing that I have ever done.  Training to wrestle competitively is an exercise in conditioning and adding to your physical memory.  When you’re out there facing an opponent, you must pull the correct series of moves out of a mental Rolodex in order to win.  You must learn about leverage and at least a little about human anatomy and how to dominate another human being.  That’s why I call it “real wrestling”.

I am especially proud of my little brother who went to several local and state championships and dominated because he combined fitness with intelligence.  My own career paled in comparison because he truly had a passion for the sport.

That being said, I wanted to pay tribute to just a handful of the real wrestlers who decided to become sports entertainers when they retired from the sport. There are more guys than are contained in this list but I don’t want to take that much of your time up. By and large, those who were wrestlers first have a larger list of moves their capable of doing, adapt easier and have the best conditioning.  This makes them the best performers in the ring and if they are blessed to have charisma, they usually excel in the business.

Even those who have just dabbled in amateur wrestling did better than their bodybuilder co-workers.  To name just a few dabblers: Ric Flair, Mick Foley, The Rock and Owen Hart.  All of them wrestled in high school and are some of the best at putting a solid match together.  Compare them to guys like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior and you can see where the benefits of being a real wrestler come in.


Dolph Ziggler

I have three words about Real Wrestling’s effect on Dolph Ziggler’s in-ring style: Conditioning, conditioning and conditioning.  It really seems to me like the man could wrestle forever.  His athleticism is unquestionable and he portrays a vicious tenacity.  He is currently one of the best at showing pain in his body language and facial expressions and I bet he got a lot of practice during his real wrestling career.   After all, he was an All-Mid-American Conference champion three times and is second all-time in victories at Kent State.


Shelton Benjamin

Look at the bottom of this post to see who Shelton Benjamin first teamed with when he hit the mainstream.  The WWE immediately embraced Benjamin’s real wrestling career and brought him in as a trained tactician who had speed and agility on his side as well.  Benjamin’s career shone bright as he used a combination of kicks, high-flying and mat skills to take on opponents.  Unfortunately, he left the bright lights of the WWE when they dropped the ball but he still continues in Japan and independent promotions in the US.  He won the South Carolina State High School Championship two times and had a win-loss record of 122-10.


Jack Swagger

There is no questioning that Swagger was involved in real wrestling.  His build and the way he moves are clear indicators and he obviously understands leverage a lot.  There have been some bumps in the road of Jack Swagger’s career because he lacks some of the necessary charisma but nobody has ever questioned his skill or athleticism.  He does his best work when paired up with a mouthpiece so that he can do all of his talking in the ring.  He was a two-sport athlete at The University of Oklahoma but once he quit football he was an All-American.


Brock Lesnar

A controversial success story like no other, Brock Lesnar keeps taking the time to stop by and dominate the world of sports entertainment.  Brock Lesnar is a physical specimen and it shows with how easily he picks up and manages a human being.  Even with the power game he has had since day one, he has tried to update his list of moves every so often.  Unfortunately, this resulted in him blowing a shooting star press and landing on his head but everybody has setbacks.  I wish Brock would either stick around or leave sports entertainment but I like his current run as champ.  He was a two-time NJCAA All-American, 1998 NJCAA Heavyweight Champion, two-time NCAA All-American, two-time Big Ten Conference Champion and the 2000 NCAA heavyweight champion with a record of 106–5 overall in four years of college.


Kurt Angle

I have been pretty impressed by Kurt Angle since day one.  He showed up in the WWE during the late nineties at the height of the attitude era.  He became a heel because he was a legit athlete and was not afraid to tell everybody in the building at home about it.  His gold medal was shoved down our throats so much that we hated him for it.  However, looking back his accomplishments are amazing and completely impressive.  He is from a pretty exclusive club of real Olympic athletes and there aren’t many of them in the business.  It’s a shame his later career was marred a bit by drug abuse but he seems to be mostly past that and still outperforms younger guys. He is one of only four people to complete a Grand Slam in amateur wrestling (junior nationals, NCAAs, World Championships and the Olympics).

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: How Are They Not Dead?

August 1, 2014

WILPW

So, I talk about sports entertainment to anybody who will listen to me all the time to the point where I worry I’m overselling the product to people who don’t care and annoying them.   I can literally work the history of sports entertainment into any conversation since its long history provides lots of characters, storylines and such to draw from.  It was partly the fear of negative social backlash that I started to put this in my blog.  The other half, of course, is that I love it so much.   It is a great excuse to comb through old footage on youtube or try to remember trivia from decades of history.

Recently I was assaulting my brother with one of my rambling diatribes about the WWE product.  I was probably outlining Daniel Bryan’s rise to power or the Shield’s break up or something.  He turned to me and asked something that I have heard now and then.  “Did you ever think about becoming a wrestler?”  My knee jerk reaction is that this sounds like “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” but then I realize my brother is serious.  I do enjoy the product so much that it is not such a logical leap for me to be in the business.  My simple answer?  “Are you kidding?  I don’t want to get hurt.”

You see, professional wrestling is a “fake” sport.  The results of each match are planned ahead of time and the matches are choreographed ahead of time, during the match or often a mixture of the two.  However, as most fans will tell you, the physical contact can be very real and anything but fake.  Sure, when a wrestler is body slammed they are protected by their opponent but at the same time they are being picked up and slammed on the mat.  Not only that but accidents happen and people get seriously injured.  It’s a high risk profession and people are often forced to retire from it early.

Then there’s the moments where the wrestlers and promoters decide that they are going to take that risk and turn it up to eleven.  This is done to sell tickets and stamp memories into the audiences brains that they will take away with them for a long time.  “Whoa, how could you miss that chair shot last night on the payperview?  You have to order the replay, dude.”  These moments can be scary within the storyline and also when you think of these people as performers.  That’s why I wanted to salute some of those moments that have us cringing and shaking our heads with wonder and respect.

(Warning: Some might find this episode particularly graphic)

The Undertaker Throws Mankind Off the Hell in a Cell Cage

This one is an obvious one for the list.  This is the moment that blew my teenage mind, a moment which led to a series of moments that made me drop my jaw to the floor.  There are several parts in this match where Mick Foley could easily have died.  The way he tells it, he was legitimately concussed during the match as he spent a large portion blacked out.  Not only that but the only way he could remember the events of the match was watching the tape earlier.  Some of this match is the performers taking calculated risks and some of it is purely accidental.  The only reasons that Mick Foley didn’t die are professionalism and a little luck.

Shane McMahon is Suplexed Through Plate Glass

I defy you to watch that footage and tell me that wrestling is “fake”.  That is not prop glass.  It takes more than one attempt to put Shane through that glass.  When his body hits the glass with a whump, it’s somehow more impressive and looks more painful.  Kurt Angle is a machine and an actual gold medal wrestler in the 1996 Olympics.  He transitioned from being an acclaimed and accomplished competitor to the world of sports entertainment.  He makes a name for himself again in the world of the WWF (WWE).  Then he’s told that not only is he going to have a match with his boss’ son but he is going to do this to him.  This match is completely insane, especially when you realize that Shane is way too rich to have to do this.  Shane McMahon’s brief wrestling career is full of moments like this.

Kevin Steen Package Hits El Generico with a Package Piledriver… with Ladders.

Wow.  Just wow.  That was my reaction when I first saw this.  This was pretty much my introduction to Ring of Honor while I tried to catch up on old iPPVs.  The storyline had built up a rivalry so heated that building an elaborate structure out of ladders did not seem too silly.  OK it was a little silly.  Still, the whole thing is worth the spot in the video above.  A normal piledriver is a move that requires a lot of trust between performers.  A package piledriver seemingly leaves the victim completely unable to protect themselves, requiring a greater level of trust.  Then you up the ante by doing the move about six feet in the air onto metal ladders and it’s just amazing.  The crowd chants what we’re all thinking.

Dean Ambrose Suplexes Seth Rollins Off of a Very Tall Ladder

This one is from this year and thanks to the WWE Network and GIFs, I was able to watch moments from this match more than once.  Both Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins seem to excel at taking large amounts of punishment.  They are two of the most entertaining performers in the business today and I hope they survive these sorts of matches without career-ending injuries.  This moment was so amazing that I had to show my brother.   I believe his response was “Whoa!”.  There is no way to fake the impact of this move.  You close your eyes, brace yourself and try to fall as flat on your back as possible.

Terry Funk vs. Cactus Jack – No Rope, Barbed Wire, Exploding Barbed Wire Boards, Exploding Ring Match

Yes, you read all of that correctly.  I took great care in typing it all out.  Not only was there barbed wire all around the ring but it was also attached to wooden boards that were rigged with C-4. Yes, the same C-4 you see in movies and Mythbusters.  The really dangerous explosive.  The concept was that if a performer is pushed onto one of the barbed wire boards, it explodes under them.  This caused severe burns for both Funk and Foley.  Yes, this is the same Foley who later got thrown off of a cage.  Besides being ripped to shreds by barbed wire and subjected to C-4 boards, the idea was for the ring itself to explode at the end of the match.  We never did get to see this happen as it fizzles.  Still, Mick Foley describes himself as smelling like burnt flesh for days after this match.


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