There’s more to the job than just working.
By Slade Mercer.
Part Two of how I got my start in professional wrestling will be coming soon, but for now I wanted to write something a little different, and can apply to any wrestler at any stage of their career.
When I first imagined being a professional wrestler, I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like. I had a fair idea that I wouldn’t be able to support myself with how many shows or matches I would work (at least, not at the beginning), but I also didn’t realise just how many weird and wonderful doors my experience and abilities would open for me.
For example, I underestimated just how many times I’d be in my underwear in public – whether that be promoting a wrestling event, or doing other forms or promo work. Shame is something you will have to leave in your gearbag!
Wrestling teaches loads of cross over skills that can be applied in other industries. Acting, talking (both to camera and to a live audience), mannerisms, movements, knowing your position relative to a camera, all of these things can lead to things you never thought you’d do.
My first foray into acting was a reenactment of a Shakespearian play during my time at university. There was a role for a wrestler, I was asked, and I took part. The play was unpaid, but I learnt a lot and it opened the door to a paid stage play only a few years later – one where I was the male lead and stage fight choreographer.
Right now in fact, there’s a theatre show playing at the Melbourne Fringe Festival called Mythos: Ragnarok. The play tells the story of Odin all the way through to Ragnarok, with all the Norse mythology characters on show. The twist is, the director, writer and cast are all professional wrestlers. The stage is a low set wrestling ring without ropes, turnbuckles or corner posts. They tell the tales of greed, deceit and pain with chokeslams, back body drops and piledrivers! It portrays pro wrestling in a way that can easily be digested through the lens of a pop culture phenomenon. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be cheering and booing and getting amongst it just like an indie show! Check out Mythos: Ragnarok on instagram @mythos.theatre and you can find tickets online at melbournefringe.com.au/event/mythos-ragnarok/
I’ve starred in kids TV shows, independent movies and commercials (one for Nokia, if you can believe that!). Some of you may also know my most recent acting credit, seasons one and two of NBC’s Young Rock. That can be a whole article itself, probably two!
Wind the clock back about 15 years, and professional wrestling wasn’t where it is today. Not just in terms of there being high level competition to the status quo, but how mainstream wrestling has become. How accepted it has become. ESPN has wrestling talk shows, thousands of podcasts and Youtube channels and hours upon hours of wrestling content, mainstream or otherwise, available free or really cheaply.
This means there are more opportunities than ever as a professional wrestler. Whether that be acting, reality television (I’ve done that too, but the less said about my dating show the better), podcasts, Youtube channels, TikTok trends, the list goes on. As wrestling is so much more popular now, your skills as a wrestler are respected and recognised – meaning there are lots of doors to walk through depending on what you want to make of them, and yourself.
I’ve always said that you define your own success. What does it mean to be a successful professional wrestler? I tell people at training seminars that from the moment you are paid to have a wrestling match, win or lose, you’ve ticked that box – you’re officially a professional wrestler! But what next? What other goals or aspirations do you have with and through pro wrestling?
I’d argue that being successful is being able to make an income with the skills and knowledge you’ve gained through the business. What that looks like, and how you do that, is up to you!