“I want to become a professional wrestler. I want to go to the
top. I want to be a ‘superstar.’ What do I do?” Over the past
several weeks, words similar to those were asked of me by three
different individuals. As I responded to their questions, I
realized that this could be very interesting information to share
with all of my readers.
There are less than two thousand people who make their living by
wrestling. With about six and a half billion people on the planet,
the odds that any individual could ever become even a third-rate
professional wrestler are less than one in three million. It’s also
necessary to point out that many of those two thousand wrestlers
make just enough money to survive. Most of them will never achieve
financial security through the sport. Now, let’s narrow the numbers
to better-known, “name” professional wrestlers and watch the odds
become substantially higher. I’ll be generous and say that there
are 100 top “name” professional wrestlers. Statistically, the odds
that any individual could ever attain that position are about one in
“With odds of sixty-five million to one against me, why should I
even bother?” asked one of the would-be wrestlers. “You shouldn’t,”
I responded. He stared at me with a look of confusion on his face.
“The fact that you could even ask the question means that you have
already failed,” I suggested. “You’ve already defeated yourself.”
One of the other would-be wrestlers responded to my
“65-million-to-one-odds-against-you” test in a much different way.
“Odds mean nothing,” the young fellow said. “What were the odds
against you, Rock?” I smiled and responded, “a lot worse than 65
million to one. In fact, I was told hundreds of times that, for me,
it was totally impossible.” “And you achieved it,” the young man
added. “What are those statistical odds that a skinny kid could
grow up to be a professional wrestler and have top billing over the
heavyweight championship of the world?” he asked, “And how many
times has that happened?” I smiled again. “I know of it happening
once,” I said. I knew, of course, because it was Rock
Wonderful" Riddle vs. Haystacks Calhoun who had top billing over the world
championship. “As far as the odds go,” I continued, “I suppose they
were about six billion to one against me.” This kid had the right
attitude, so I shared the following information with him.
Success in the wrestling business does not necessarily depend on
wrestling ability. Some of the most popular in the business – the
icons of professional wrestling -- only know a few dozen moves.
And, most of the best technically skilled wrestlers alive will never
make a name for themselves in the business. “Okay, Rock,” you’re
probably saying, “if it’s not technical skill, what is it – huge size and a
competitive bodybuilder’s body?” No, that’s not it, either. Some of the most extraordinarily successful legends of
our business were of average height and did not possess overly
impressive physiques. So, what are the requirements necessary to
become one of the best in the world?
First, you must have a thorough understanding of the wrestling
business. Become one of the biggest fans the sport has ever known.
Study videotapes of the best of the best. Watch every wrestling
show you can. Go to the matches in person whenever possible, and
sit up close. Subscribe to the 24/7 cable wrestling channel. If
success in the wrestling world is your number one passion in life,
you must do these things. You must study the business.
To be a successful professional wrestler, you must know how to
wrestle. You don’t necessarily have to be the best technically
skilled wrestler, but you must have at least above-average wrestling
ability. You also must understand human psychology and, more
importantly, crowd psychology. Top professional wrestlers
understand these things very well. They can stand the people up,
bring them to the edge of the ring, and put them back in their seats
at will. Sure, much of that ability comes from experience, but much
can also be learned before you ever step into the ring.
Successful wrestlers develop a unique and recognizable
larger-than-life image. It’s called packaging. Packaging is what
causes the public, to a major degree, to buy a product. A wrestler
is a product. The packaging helps to develop and define the
product. My packaging consisted of bleached blond hair, an athletic
and tanned body, multicolored tights and trunks, custom-designed
two-tone wrestling boots, usually with light blue or pink laces, velvet robes with colorful
silk lining and “Mr. Wonderful” emblazoned on the back, unique
wrap-around sunglasses, and an “attitude.” My friend Roddy Piper’s
packaging consisted of a kilt and a set of bagpipes. Roddy never
had a great body, but he had something that was absolutely necessary
for success in the wrestling business – personality!
If you analyze
the best of the best, you’ll see what they all have in common.
Let’s continue with Roddy Piper. If you are a regular reader of
this column, you’ll know that he and I have been friends for many,
many years and that his big break in the wrestling business was
initiated by Yours Truly. Wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes for a
somewhat normal-looking guy with an average body certainly doesn’t
seem like a formula for success is the wrestling business. So, what
else did Roddy have going for him? We’ve already mentioned
personality, which is extremely important, but what other qualities
did he possess that were necessary to complete the success formula?
Speaking on the microphone! Yes, that’s it. Roddy was (and still
is) a great “stick man.” Like so many of the greats in this
business, Roddy possesses a great sense of humor. That’s another
prerequisite for success in the wrestling business. It’s virtually
impossible to reach the top without an extreme sense of humor.
After all, when you literally risk your life almost every night, a
great sense of humor is an absolute necessity.
What else is
necessary in order to reach the top in our wonderful business? As
it is with any major goal, you must have an unshakable belief and
knowingness that you will attain the success that you desire. You
must be able to anticipate any and every move. You must be able to
roll with the punches, and most importantly, you must enjoy the
journey. Next week, we’ll talk about how to develop all of these
necessary attributes and how to bring yourself to the attention of
the wrestling promotion. Most amazingly, these techniques work in
virtually every industry (especially the film & TV business). We’ll
show you next week. Until then, keep those e-mails coming.