I was doing some trivial thing a couple of days ago (I think it involved taking out the garbage or putting something into the garbage can) when all of a sudden I let out a loud scream as I accidentally dropped what I was carrying. You would have thought I’d been shot. Right after the shock of hearing myself wore off, I started laughing and thought about something that happened back in the Sharkey/Fox wrestling camp several years ago.
I don’t remember what year it was (2000?), but we were in the St. Louis Park, MN location. It was summer so the ring was outside. When it’s outside you take advantage of the extra room above and around the ring to practice and do some drills that you wouldn’t be able to do when the ring is in the garage. One of the drills we would go through is getting thrown through, and over, the ropes.
Getting thrown through the ropes happens almost every match to at least one of the wrestlers. When someone is tossing you out, you need to be able to grab the middle rope with one hand, plant the other hand down on the apron, and make sure your legs (and especially your feet) don’t get tangled up in the ropes on the way out. Getting into the ring through the ropes also needs practice, but it’s a little less critical because the heel is always going to nail you as you’re getting back in anyway 😉
The drill for this was to have one person in the ring and all of the other trainees standing outside. One by one each person would climb into the ring and then the person in the ring would grab you and throw you out through the other side. Then you’d go to the end of the line and do it again. After the person in the ring through everyone out once, the next person would take over as the thrower. This continued until everyone had a turn at tossing guys out.
A similar drill was going over the top rope. One person in the ring, everyone else comes in one at a time and then gets thrown over the top rope on the opposite side. There was more chance for injury because the top rope is at least 7 feet above the floor- more for the taller rings which I think were 42 inches from the floor to the top of the mat.
In a lot of cases, guys would wrestle their first time in a battle royal. Unless they were winning (unlikely), they were going over the top rope.
As long as we were outside, we might as well work on one other over-the-top-rope move that occurs less often (not every match) but is also good to know. That move is going over the top rope backwards. This would happen if someone gave you a clothesline over the top rope (e.g. every match I had against Mitch Paradise), or a cross body, or something similar. This one isn’t extremely difficult, but there is a mental hurdle to overcome to be able to do it. To help with this, you start out with one or more spotters to guide you over.
We had a guy in the camp that was very nervous about going over the top rope backwards. For the sake of the story let’s call this guy “Ray“. Ray was a very muscular guy. Ray was in his 40’s when he started in wrestling. Ray had competed in several Mr. Minnesota bodybuilding competitions. And it turned out Ray could scream like an 8-year-old girl.
It took quite a while to convince Ray to try this move. With a couple of spotters in place, Ray backed up against the ropes. One of the guys in the ring was ready go give him a clothesline over when Ray said he was ready.
“You ready Ray?”
Clothesline- starts going over the top…
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh!” (high pitched horror movie scream)
“Ray, are you okay?! What happened!?”
“I don’t know, I thought I was going to land on my head! The scream just came out of nowhere.”
“Ok, let’s try it again”
He gets back into ring and in position against ropes.
Clothesline- starts going over the top again…
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh!” (same high pitched scream)
“Ray, I thought you were ready!”
“I keep thinking I’m going to land on my head”
“Ok, let’s try it again”
Gets back into ring…
Repeat that whole sequence another 5 times or so and you get the idea. At that point we had to stop because everyone was exhausted. Ray was tired from screaming. Everyone else was tired from laughing.
I don’t think he ever made it over the top rope that summer, or ever for that matter, without screaming hysterically (he had some injuries that ended his career before his first match- none of them involved the top rope).
If it makes him feel any better, I have no idea where my blood-curdling scream came from either.