They sacrifice their family, put their lives on the line, make themselves bleed, sacrifice their health and they do all these just to embrace the crowd’s roar when they walkout from the backstage. The life of a professional wrestler can be summed up with this one sentence. And whenever I see someone criticize wrestlers for being fake and terming their life as a cake walk I feel pity about them since they don’t have the heart for respecting these passionate professionals for what they do to entertain us.
“99.9% of wrestlers will never make it to the big companies…most will go as far as the independent leagues,” this is a famous quote by former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page.
And this is where the life of every wrestler starts; despite such big odds against him, a wrestler shows the courage to follow his passion filled with hopes of one day main eventing the WrestleMania. In the independent circuit he is at a risk of being homeless or easily ending up with a lost limb as there are no medical insurances and if he is able to make it into one of the big leagues after these struggle then what awaits him is more pain and ignorance. The half of a wrestlers life in the “fairytale” part of the business is spent in the plane travelling while the other half in the ring. Inside the ring he is made to sweat blood and eat pain. And if he lives after all this he is forced to retire from the sport with aches all over his body and spend the rest of his life serving in a remote supermarket to earn his bread.
That’s how the life of 90 percentage of the wrestlers end and then there are the remaining ten percentage which include the lights of Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who was successful in steering their career in such a direction to avoid all these. While it is hard to predict the outcome of Cena this early for the time being let’s say he’s good. Be in the top or at the bottom, one thing that all wrestlers have in common is the hard routine that they have to follow. Imagine how much time John Cena or CM Punk would get to spend with their family. And now imagine how you will feel if you was in that situation. An argument might now rise saying that they get all the money and fame but have we ever wondered what price they pay to get that?
I tried not to mention his name but without him this won’t be complete- Chris Benoit, he murdered his family and committed suicide because the pressure finally got to him. His prolonged substance abuse cost him his life. While Benoit was not the only wrestler who was affected by the pressure and addiction to performance enhancing drugs, Eddie Guerrero also fell into this thorny pit and lost his life in at a comparatively young age. These are mere examples for how low the life expectancy of a wrestler is.
Then there are the injuries that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Mick Foley once lost his ear during a wrestling match while Owen Hart fell to his death while pulling out a dangerous act it’s just all part of the business they say. But injuries are not the only holes that a wrestler could fall to; in the company he might be tempted to various addictions like drugs, girls and pleasure. While some like Ric Flair and Jeff Hardy enjoy the lot others like Undertaker and Shawn Michaels show the courage to climb back from this pit. And it’s not only his talent that propels a wrestler to stardom in the company he will be forced to back stab and pull down talent just to survive in the business. Then he will have to cut himself with a blade to make the wrestling more “real” and take chair shots with staple guns and all these he does for the passion and to please the crowd who cheers him or boo him.
The dignity and the passion of the wrestler are unquestionable after all these, and for those who believe that his life is all about sunshine and rainbows, well think again. The journey as a professional wrestler might be one of the most physically and psychologically draining roller-coaster rides in the world. But for a wrestler he is an artist of an art which is difficult to learn and requires a lot of courage to perform. Face or Heel, a wrestler deserves respect for what he does.
Darren Aronofsky’s 2008 film “The Wrestler” which depicted the life of a wrestler, ended with the main character Randy ‘the Ram’ Robinson taped up and aching after a recent heart attack, climbing the turnbuckle for one final signature ‘Ram Jam’ slam and that’s what a wrestler gives you: his sweat, his blood and his life.
Is Roman Reigns vs. The Rock likely to happen? We asked Paul Heyman himself here.