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THE RING
I'm Cool, I'm Cocky, I'm Hurt...
June 7, 2002

by The Immolator
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Thank you very much, you’re a beautiful audience. — The Honky Tonk Man

Welcome back to another installment of The Ring. The Immolator here, still in one piece. Big ups to all those who have e-mailed me to wish me well along this journey. A word of caution, though: this is not the online version of “Tough Enough.” Like any aspiring artist, I cannot in good conscience reveal the exact details of my craft. You are all “smart” people reading this, so I think you understand where I’m coming from. What I do hope to give you is an idea of the physical (and, I’m sure it’s inevitable, mental) toll that I am paying as a student, and to keep you up to date on my progress in the squared circle. And NO CRYING! Unless I really, really hurt myself.

So far, I’ve had four full lessons under my belt. The learning process, for me, is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. Having watched wrestling on TV for, what, 25 years now, I’ve seen a lot of matches, and I’ve seen a lot of wrestling moves. I’d like to learn them all, at least the ones that I feel comfortable with. I see myself developing into a Lance Storm-Dean Malenko type in the ring. Character development is another animal that I will discuss later. So, with each hold I learn at this stage, I feel a piece of the puzzle falling into place.

Lesson One started with a ton of cardio that again left me on the verge of puking. There were about a dozen other students in this class, all of whom outran me quite easily. Many are skinny and about 19 years old. Being called “a big guy” during this class came as a shock, being 6 foot and 185 pounds, and not exactly ripped. At 17 per cent body fat, I hope to get down to about seven per cent by year’s end.

In the intro column, I touched briefly on the left shoulder roll, and how I was having some trouble with it. In fact, I wound up coming down hard on my kidney on a couple of occasions. It didn’t particularly hurt at the time. A couple of days later, though, and I could tell I had already done something to myself. My first impression was that I had cracked a rib, but I think it might have been a bruised kidney, since it only took about a week for the discomfort to go away.

I knew going into the business that, hey, wrestlers get hurt. This did not deter me, since I don’t see myself doing any Shooting Star Presses anytime soon. But my first “owie,” as Jerry Only called them, made me think about it for a second. Diamond Dallas Page faces possible back surgery that seems to be from just the accumulation of 12 years of bumping. Triple H blew a quad jumping across the ring. At some point, The Immolator is going to get hurt through no fault of his own. I thought about that for a second. But I am still not deterred. Murray Wilson of the Montreal Canadiens once twisted his ankle in the dressing room by stepping on a piece of popcorn. Life happens.

So, Lesson Two, I avoided the ring in favour of learning some basic holds. I worked on the standing wristlock and hammerlock I learned in Lesson One, adding a top wristlock and a side headlock. Four down, 997 to go. Of course, it is never that simple. Good wrestlers are always working on the holds they already know.

By Lesson Three, I felt better and ready to take some more punishment. The improvement from Day One was significant: I was bumpin’ like a Mulkey and proud of it, even on the left side. As for holds, we did knee drops, which hurt like stink to deliver, and the knee-into-the-gut off the Irish Whip. Unfortunately, I managed to get a knee driven into my right hand instead of into my gut. Jammed my third and fourth fingers. If you’ve ever had a basketball fired at you a bit too quickly and you didn’t catch it right, that’s how it felt. Nothing broken, it seemed, so I continued.

Lesson Four was a bit different. As I said in the intro column, some lessons at The House of Pain are taught by the man known as Disco Fury. More of a high-flyer, and the lessons a bit more advanced. It was suggested to me I could go through a lesson and learn some things without slowing everyone else down. Well, not so. I did learn a lot, but I felt it was at the expense of others. They would do some moves that I hadn’t learned yet, then have to stop for a few minutes while Disco showed me something else. Eventually, we all learned a new move for us: the shoulder tackle. Not a terribly complicated move, but I still had some trouble with it. After taking and delivering about a zillion sloppy tackles, I felt a twinge in my left pectoral. Hmmm. Then we did more cardio, and I couldn’t come close to keeping up. I was so bagged, I couldn’t do more than three push-ups.

Which brings us to this past Sunday, and The Honky Tonk Man. He wrestled a show for ECCW on Friday, then stuck around for promotional work. On Sunday, myself, three women from the school and two fans got the opportunity to work out with Honky. One of the two fans was a young, 270-pound bo-hemoth, and very excited to be there. It was all basic stuff again, like my introductory workout. But Honky showed us the moves from a different perspective. Even something as relatively simple as a collar-and-elbow tie-up can be done in subtly different ways. Some relate to ring psychology, others relate to self-protection. Again, good wrestlers work on the holds they already know.

As far as the workout went, I sucked. I wasn’t sure why at the time, but I was a bit timid going into some of the bumps. My timing was off. I took some hip tosses that just weren’t clicking. Later, we worked on shoulder tackles again, and I was still not quite getting it. That twinge in my chest started acting up. Then, Honky brought me into the center of the ring and just edged slightly into me, chest-to-chest. I felt like I had been shot. I had to bow out for the rest of the physical work.

Afterward, Honky told us about his start in the business, how when he trained, they started with one hold, and you had to do that move over and over until it was perfect. Then you got to do a second. It was slow and laborious, and he applauded the way a good school nowadays can spread the learning out more. He also stressed the extreme importance of having respect for the business. Despite the fact that we “smarts” seem privy to all the backstage politics nowadays, the age-old adage remains: what goes on in the locker room, stays in the locker room. And, of course, magicians and wrestlers don’t give up their secrets. Except for APW, I suppose.

Moose Morowski was also at the session. He was a fixture in the Winnipeg wrestling scene in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and worked extensively in Germany and Japan. He told us about guys like Lou Thesz and Don Leo Jonathan and how things have changed since their day. Being able to hear from “The Moose” was a privilege.

Afterward, I thanked both Moose and Honky for their time and their words. Then I went to the doctor. Immo is out two weeks with a pec strain. Plus, I sprained a joint in my hand. That’s six weeks, but I can work around that.

I’ll be back next Thursday with a look at WWE’s programming for the week, plus whatever turns up on ESPN Classic. Hey, Jack Tatum!

Peace.

 

E-MAIL THE IMMOLATOR
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES


  
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