Tuesday, September 30, 2014

          There were a few thoughts passing through my mind as I was reading Freedman's chapter in Drawing Heat, "What Fans Know." Primarily, the thought of loneliness. It's not something people often think about when thinking about wrestling. As a wrestler, you are spending most of your time traveling from one place to another, especially if you're at the top of the card. With a life like that, it's damn near impossible to start or maintain a family, particularly with anyone outside of the business. Your life becomes a party of one and it is entirely devoted to wrestling. It makes me think that you have to really, really, really love your job if you're going to be a top tier wrestler. If you're not wrestling, you're doing interviews, you're filming promos, you're at the gym, you're rehearsing moves, you're meeting with the public or the press. Your life, your body, is no longer just yours, but the whole worlds.
          In this chapter, Rip begins to talk about his grandson, his one true joy in life. He gets a phone call that day from a doctor that tells him that the wart on his grandson's chin is actually a malignant cyst and it would have to be removed. Just imagining something so important happening with your family back home and not being able to go to them lest you risk not making money for said family. Pro wrestling is a true commitment.


Gary said...

These are all good thoughts, and made me think about a "big city" wrestler versus Wildman's lifestyle as a small town peripheral wrestler/promoter. The big city guy has several advantages, such as mode of transportation (flying), as opposed to driving from city to city, and not carrying your own complete wrestling setup, such as the ring itself from town to town, not having to worry so much about the gate, as the big promoter is responsible for that.

I think that the small town "carnie" lifestyle really leads to a form of isolationism where your only friends are the wrestlers themselves who you travel with from place to place; where your only thought is what the gate brought last year, and whether they are going to make money that night. Every night is a struggle.

This lifestyle really causes sacrifices few can handle and endure.

Sam Ford said...

You're right...the sacrifices are different but, in many ways, the same. The national touring wrestler finds themselves far from home. The indie promoter like the Wildman finds themselves close to home but unable to connect with the family around them, because of how all-consuming the show becomes...There's a prevailing sense of loneliness for many of the guys described...and a desire to connect somehow, somewhere....It is in the moments of silent one-on-one driving that Jim builds his relationship with Dave. We can see how some bonds are forged not out of really liking one another but just being stuck in the same vehicle as one another. We can see in Rip this intense desire to connect while on the road, from his tryst with the waitress at the donut shop to his heart-to-heart with Jim...and we can see how this dedication wreaks havocs on the lives of those that surround wrestlers, all too often.