Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

by Rock Riddle, the Original "Mr. Wonderful" of Professional Wrestling

Date of Original Publication:   September 14, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

“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 65 million. 

“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 "Mr. 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.

This column welcomes your wrestling-related questions.  You may contact the author via email: RockRiddle@hotmail.com or Rock@HollywoodSuccess.com.  Be sure to put "Wrestling Question" in the subject line.

About the author:  Rock Riddle wrestled professionally for over 8½ years and helped sell out major arenas all over the country.  He held numerous titles including the Americas Tag Team Championship (with John Tolos) and the East Coast Tag Team Championship (with Rocky Montana.)  At the height of his career, he was given top billing over the heavyweight championship of the world.  He is extremely well-connected in the world of professional wrestling and knows the business exceptionally well.  His fascinating biography, complete with over 100 photos and lots of additional information, is available at www.HollywoodSuccess.com – just click on "Rock Riddle Bio."    If you have missed any of Rock’s columns, they are all available on the website by clicking "Wrestling Revue."

© 2006 Rock Riddle & Hollywood Success.

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