The air was cool outside the Colonial Theater that Saturday morning. Fond memories of Hulk Hogan lifting Andre the Giant brought the only smile I’d have on my face this day. It was one of Total Wrestling Federation’s live shows on the marquee for the evening, shows that can typically gather from 150 to 200 people right off Stockton Boulevard.
They schedule their training sessions earlier in the day, held by TWF’s own Steven Smith, 23, known by his fans and trainees as Beast. His physical mass, combined with a beard that would make Zach Galifianakis look like the Dos Equis guy, made me almost regret this decision in and of itself. There were five of us that had to put the ring together piece-by-piece.
It started with the four steel ring posts. Then four rails connecting the ring posts which all needed corner support parts, smaller feet to accommodate the space between the ring posts, and two solid beams to connect it all in the middle.
This is only the beginning.
With seven steel rods as the final support for the bottom of the ring, in followed 17 slabs of 10 feet by 1 ½ foot wood, that was roughly 2 ½ inches thick, all touching one another. Only six slabs of much thinner wood came in after that. Then came the very, very thin padding.
Lets recap: 25 heavy metal parts, 23 solid wood parts, and two layers only called padding due to lack of a better word.
Finally, with the ring only missing a canvas and three ropes, the training could begin.
Learning to take what they call a “bump” is much like learning how to ride a bike; it sucks at first, but the fear of pain dissipates when the motions become more fluid. Not that the pain itself becomes any easier to handle, mind you, just the fear of the pain forthcoming.
There are no words that can perfectly describe the pain searing through my neck the next day.
There are five steps important to remember when taking the bump. I had to keep my legs up, ass out to prepare for the pendulum motion, arms spread wide to suppress the impact of hitting the canvas, tuck my neck so the back of my head doesn’t bash against the canvas, and of course breathe out on the way down to help the fluidity of the motion.
Sounds easier than it is. Trust me.
For those doubting that professional wrestling is in a renaissance period, it may be wise to take a look around. The performers are littered in your action movies.
According to Nielson Media Research, World Wrestling Entertainment’s weekly shows regularly pull in 14.4 Americans viewers – only 60 percent of which are male. This year’s WrestleMania XXVI, held at the University of Phoenix Stadium, pulled in 72,000 fans selling more than $5.8 million in ticket sales alone. Numbers that trump the 71,000 fans that attended Super Bowl XLII at the same venue.
Rewinding back to our local company, TWF holds three live events each week. Two of which are televised on local broadcasting (check your local listings). They’re nowhere near McMahon-level competition, sure, but they’ve got heart and a lot of tenure in the area. Founded in 1998 in Jake Sherman’s, known by fans as The Jake, mother’s front lawn just for fun, TWF has evolved into an anchor for Sacramento’s entertainment scene.
Next time you think pro wrestling is fake, give TWF a call and sit in on their training program like I did.
And enjoy the concussion.