Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wrestling as a Self-Help Book

Sharon Mazer's "Real" Wrestling/"Real" Life comparison of wrestling to reality offers another really interesting way that wrestling logic can be applied to other things, in this case, life in general. Her discussion of boardroom meetings as wrestling matches near the end of the piece can almost be read as a suggestion to treat life as a work, which is at the same time an amazing and absurd idea. Asking oneself "how can I put myself over today?" seems both indicative of a dissociation from reality and the ultimate motivator. Mazer says she would be interested in writing a book on living as a wrestler does, and I think there is a lot of potential in holding that sort of worldview.
Life is a very serious business for a lot of people, but I think treating one's conflicts in life as if they were wrestling angles would take some of the stress off. With this in mind, I would like to attempt to delineate some of the necessary steps to be included in any self-help books modeled on professional wrestling:

1. Analyze yourself as a person. Write out your strengths and weaknesses, your character traits that you admire and dislike, and any other pertinent information, as though you were doing a character study on yourself.
2. Utilizing your strengths, come up with an idealized persona for yourself, noting any dichotomies between what you envision as the perfect version of yourself and reality. Be sure to include high feelings of self worth and an overabundance of confidence, because this is necessary for all wrestlers.
3. Begin acting as though you were this perfect version of yourself 24 hours a day. Do what the ideal version of you would do, regardless of how you actually feel. (ex. It doesn't matter if you're too tired to go to the gym today, ideal you loves the gym and wouldn't skip it for the world.) Treat all matters, especially stressful ones, as though they were wrestling matches in which you were going to be put over. The outcome is fixed, you just have to work the angle and improvise until you get there.
4. Slowly blur the lines between ideal self and real self until the two are one and the same.

This book would sell like hotcakes. The concept of the "real" is pretty mutable, especially in the human mind: it's just a matter of finding that place oft-discussed in regards to wrestling where the real and the fake blend into something that is neither, but still authentic. Mick Foley discusses this in his book Foley is Good when he writes about the breakup of the Rock 'n' Sock Connection. Mick mixes his personal feelings with the parameters of the angle that he is working, and when he starts yelling at the Rock he creates his own reality.
Many academics have written that whether wrestling is real or fake is a moot point to wrestling fans. I think it would sell a lot of self-help books to argue that whether a person as a human being is real or fake is similarly moot, in that if one makes a conscious effort to think and act a certain way that becomes reality. In conclusion, I would like to propose our class project consist of a philosophical/self-help text based in wrestling logic/philosophy, so we can cash in on our collective labors.


Sam Ford said...

I love it. We're commercializing our intellectual labor, Mikey, just as wrestling pushes the wrestlers into commodifying their bodies and their identities into products. Sharon is a lot of fun (and so is her full book on pro wrestling, which is her multi-year ethnography into pro wrestling...). But her point in this essay ties in well with the explicit point of Mick's book and a thread of what we've been reading all semester: that it is the "liminal space" (to get academic-y on you) between fiction and reality that makes wrestling so exciting to a significant portion of its fan base. We want to be smart, and demonstrate how well we know and can dissect wrestling, but we also want to be surprised--or else see a performance executed to perfection. The most dedicated fans are the most critical, because it is that critical activity that, in large part, drives their close viewing of the text. Wrestling fans are part of a common culture and "in it" with the wrestlers and the promoters, yet the heel to our face characters are often other fans (for whom we have to best in our knowledge of wrestling) and the promoters (who never get it exactly the way we want them to and who try to make us come around to their way of thinking).

Taking a theater and performance studies approach to wrestling is quite useful to understand the fans, to understand the culture, to understand what wrestling might have to offer that is of interest to scholars. And I, like you, particularly love how Mazer ends the essay by showing how "the real world is faker than wrestling," to steal Mick's subtitle.

Tony Smith said...

Mikey, the greatest wrestling manager ever has already done this! Bobby "The Brain" Heenan has responded to the persistent pain felt in the world with “Chair Shots and Other Obstacles: Winning Life's Wrestling Matches." I think while his expertise in wrestling makes him perfect for telling life lessons that people could use to fight depression, anxiety, or any other ills they may face, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with more than 10 years of professional experience could write a much better book. That is why I am announcing today that I will be writing a self-help book with wrestling themes. The book is to be titled, "What the Ref Doesn't See: How What You Do Behind People's Backs Can Help You Win at the Wrestling Match of Life." By the way, I’m a heel therapist.

Sam Ford said...

Give it a Bullwinkle & Rocky title, Tony.

"Heeling Your Spirit: Becoming the World Heavyweight Champion of Your Catch-as-Catch-Can Life," or "Life Sucks and Then You Die: How to Apply an 'Always Cheat' Mentality and Put Yourself Over by Stealing Heat from All Those around You" (featuring a foreword by Kevin Nash).

Tony Smith said...

Great ideas Sam! However, Mr. Nash's writing might be problematic. I would want someone who knows the difference between an adjective and a verb to write the forward.

Timothy S. Rich said...

Best thread ever.

Seriously though, taking aspects of wrestling and applying it to self-help is no different than self-help books that focus on the envisioning the idea self.

All this needs is a catchy title and the money could easily fund the Center for Wrestling Studies.

Sam Ford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Ford said...

That's it! What better way to make WKU a leading American university with international reach?

Melissa Smith said...

WKU needs a Center for Wrestling Studies because I want to take more classes on wrestling (but only if they are on par with this class...)! And the world needs a professionally written wrestling self-help book because wrestling fans have issues (not to imply that those issues stem from an interest in wrestling, but I think a self-help book themed towards their interests is more likely to help them sort things out). I hope to see your best-selling book on the shelves soon; Books-a-Million's wrestling section needs a little more volume. Just take some pointers from Mick, and our Center for Wrestling Studies will be fully funded before you know it.

Sam Ford said...

Love it! And, I'd argue, that a wrestling fan's world view might be an interesting way to encourage people to work out their issues....It will be entertaining if nothing else. By the way, there was once an academic parody book that had a piece in it explaining the agenda for a multi-day academic conference focused only on pro wrestling. It's been my goal since to make that joke a reality. :)