Shake My Hand, Dammit. Leigh Barber

Attending a Professional wrestling School is not about learning to bump, selling and running the ropes, It’s learning how to be a professional.

My training began at World Championship Wrestling Australia (WCWA), under the late Peter “Hawk” Ball. Hawk taught me so many valuable lessons in wrestling like, always respect your peers, those who come before you and those you are working with in the ring.

What I learnt and every wrestler should know:

Respect: When you arrive at the venue, you shake everyone’s hand, and not just the wrestlers and referees, everyone, dammit!! The cleaner, security, first aid, the announcers, ring crew, door staff, the merchandise person, hell, even the hot dog seller. Every one of those people has a job to do at the show, that’s just important as you. Remember, one person does not make the show.

Learning from your peers: Wrestling has changed in the last twenty years, the twenty years before that and even the twenty years before that. Six decades ago you could have pinned someone after an arm drag, four decades ago, it might have been leg drop, two decades ago it was a Stone Cold Stunner. Today, it takes, six false finishers, four chair shots, two flips off a balcony and a Canadian Destroyer, off a ladder through a table to the floor. (Ok, maybe that was a bit extreme, but you get the point) Regardless, you can still learn from your peers, even if you don’t see eye to eye on their era or opinions if today’s wrestling.

Leave your ego at the door: So, you’ve been wrestling for a year or so, you have a following and getting cheers or boos at your local shows. Does that mean you should be booked in other feds? No. Just because you are a big fish in your fed, doesn’t mean you are superstar in Australia. I’ve been around for 22 years and lots of people don’t know who I am. So be prepared for rejection or starting at the bottom, for example, a small spot in a rumble.

Getting booked: So, you want to get booked elsewhere, what do you need to do? I’ll tell you what you don’t want to do..….send a highlight reel. Anyone can make themselves look good in a highlight reel, even me. As a former promoter, I would ask for two recent matches. What I would look for in those matches would be, selling, working, crowd interaction, character and ring awareness. The ones I would really be interested in, were the ones who lost, but still had amazing matches. Never be afraid, to show vulnerability.

The total package: Pro wrestling isn’t just about learning how to wrestle. You need to look the part, dress the part and act the part. What does the mean? Cardio? Are you going to the gym? Are you eating right? Do you have wrestling gear and boots? Are you wrestling training regularly? Are you working on your promos? Does your character match your wrestling style and gear? If not? Why not? Do you think, your favourite wrestlers got to where they are, by not going to the gym, eating KFC and not training on a regular basis.

Know your worth: It’s important to understand how much you’re worth to a company,But you must understand the promoters will only pay what they pay. Some promoters will pay you $20 a match, some will pay $50, you might get $100, you might be a well-known wrestler all over Australia and get anywhere between $250 and $800 a match. Maybe you’ll get flights and accommodation, maybe you’ll have to buy your own flights and sleep on someone’s couch. Regardless, travelling and working with new people is all part of wrestling experience. No wrestler should ever work for free!

Just remember, to have a good match: “You are just as good, as the person you are working with” “It takes two to tango” And “You have someone else’s body in your hands, so know your limitations”. Til next time.

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