Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen several articles with the common theme that being a pro wrestler isn’t easy. Usually the people making these statements are fans that went to a “fantasy camp”, or a similar situation where they paid a few bucks to train for a weekend that culminated in an undoubtedly crappy wrestling match against one of the other trainees. They’ll tell you with obvious disbelief that it is much harder than sitting in their Lay-Z-Boy watching it on TV each week.
But what about the opinions of people that have a physically job that is obviously not easy? Let’s look at a couple of MMA fighter-turned-pro wrestlers that have recently commented..
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal
From Wikipedia: Muhammed Lawal an American mixed martial artist and professional wrestler. He is signed with Bellator Fighting Championships as an MMA fighter, and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) as a wrestler.
He is the former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. Nicknamed King Mo, he is a former three-time U.S. Senior National Wrestling Champion. He wrestled at the University of Central Oklahoma for three years (’00, ’01, ’02), winning one NCAA division II national championship in 2002, and compiling an overall record of 103-22.
In an interview with Fight Hype (full interview), he had the following to say:
[…] pro wrestling training is harder than MMA training. Just look at the gruesome injuries you see in pro wrestling as opposed to MMA. That sh*t is real, man. You don’t see many compound fractures in MMA like you do in pro wrestling. All you gotta do is YouTube Sid Vicious leg break. Man, you see all kinds of crazy sh*t in pro wrestling.
[…]It was surprising to me and it made me question could I handle this. I was talking to Bully Ray and he was telling me they get people Â…he was like, “Mo, I have had fighters come through, football players come through, and they will train hard for a week or two and after that, they are done. They never come back.” That sh*t is not easy, and for all of the people out there that think it is, they should go and try to take a bump. […] I asked the film guy to take a bump real quick. He couldn’t do it. He was like, “Man, this is so hard, I can’t do it.” So he ended up doing a soft one and the next day, he was sore. He was like, “The whole back of my neck is sore.”
When he was interviewed for Sports Illustrated, he said:
“I didn’t know you’d wake up not being able to move your neck,” said Lawal of his initial time with TNA. “I didn’t know how hard that canvas was going to be. I really didn’t know about all the technique that goes into it to make sure you and your partner don’t hurt each other in a match, but I can do this and I want to do this.”
He told website MMA Junkie:
[He] was asked to vault over the ropes and stick a landing. It was easily a 10-foot drop. Seven people tried it before him, and all of them got hurt. He flatly refused.
Another day, an instructor demonstrated a fall â€“ on concrete. Lawal was shocked at the loudness of his body hitting the ground. It didn’t take him long to realize he had a long way to go.
Dan “The Beast” Severn
From Wikipedia: Daniel “Dan” DeWayne Severn is a retired American mixed martial artist and professional wrestler, notable for his success in the early years of Ultimate Fighting Championship tournaments. Severn has fought and wrestled for many mixed martial arts and professional wrestling promotions, including King of the Cage, PRIDE FC, Cage Rage, WEC, RINGS, MFC, the IFC and the World Wrestling Federation. He holds a professional MMA Record of 101â€“19â€“7 and is a UFC Hall of Famer and a former UFC Superfight Champion.
In professional wrestling Severn is a two-time world champion, having won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice. As of January 2013, at age 54+, Severn still competes in professional wrestling.
In amateur wrestling, Severn was an All American at Arizona State University and a U.S. Olympic Team alternate.
Fighters.com ran an interview with Severn in late 2012:
On the brink of his retirement from action, Dan â€œThe Beastâ€ Severn is looking back at his long and successful careers in mixed martial arts and pro wrestling.
His unique insight on those pursuits might surprise people who view them through the simple real-versus-fake dichotomy.
â€œProfessional wrestling is much more difficult,â€ Severn says
â€œIâ€™ve been hurt far worse in the professional wrestling industry than I have been in all of my cage matches.â€
Severn quickly discovered that wrestling, though scripted, wasnâ€™t nearly as â€œfakeâ€ as widely believed.
â€œWhat makes me nervous about wrestling is that I have to put my body in someone elseâ€™s hands,â€ he says. â€œIf that person screws up, itâ€™s me that gets hurt.â€
What makes it even trickier, he says, is the peculiar nature of most professional wrestlers.
â€œI say this as a broad stroke: professional wrestling is the biggest band of derelicts, neâ€™er-do-wells, misfits, nitwits and socially inept individuals ever. There are exceptions. But thatâ€™s the way it was when I first got involved, and it still is to this day.â€
Now, I’ll admit that when these guys say it’s hard they aren’t just talking about the physical abuse. What they’re also talking about, but don’t specifically say, is that a match should have a good beginning, a solid middle, and build to a satisfying end. Accomplishing that while still concentrating on the physical is probably the hardest part. So when they say it’s hard, it’s probably similar to a veteran NFL player, who is used to years of getting pummelled on the field, saying that “Dancing with the Stars” is hard. It’s just different.
In any case, it’s definitely the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, so it’s nice to hear some legit tough guys say the same.