Love them or hate them, it can’t be said that professional wrestlers are not world-class athletes. They also put on one heck of a show.
This was proven by the raucous cheering of the crowd at the Canadian Wrestling Alliance event on May 10 at the Lacombe Memorial Centre, when about a dozen of these athletes flipped, threw and flattened each other for the entertainment of fans and the benefit of the Lacombe Athletics Association.
At least one of those wrestlers feels that professional wrestling is one of the most demanding and challenging sports out there.
Tyler James, the Wild One, had crowds cheering, stamping and chanting in his favour as he took on the snobbish and cowardly Kenny Doll Friday night at the LMC.
While James won the match, the real winners, judging by the looks of happiness and excitement on their faces when James shook their hands while exiting the rings, were the fans.
“The fans make this business,” said James. “If there wasn’t any fans, what are we doing? There is nothing.”
James started training in 2005 under The Tattooed Terminator Sean Dunster, (better known by his ring name Massive Damage) but a couple bouts of injuries with long recovery periods prevented James from debuting in the ring until 2007.
He said he always had a childhood dream of being a wrestler but did not have the opportunity to pursue it until he was an adult.
While James was a very active athlete, participating in sports like hockey, baseball, swimming, track and football, in his teen years, he was not able to train as a pro wrestler without the consent of his parents.
His parents, knowing professional wrestling has the potential to be extremely dangerous, would not sign a waiver to let James train as a minor.
Once he turned 18 however, James wasted no time approaching Dunster, whom he had met a few years previous, about training.
James said Dunster did not really take him seriously at first, but James’ unfaltering perseverance convinced Dunster otherwise.
“I just kept with it. It surprised (Dunster) that I kept showing up every day,” said James. Wrestling was also something new to James, he said.
He found it a challenge and enjoyed testing out his skills in a sport that he had no experience in.
“This business has challenged me mentally, physically and is more demanding than any other sport that I have been involved in and I love the challenge,” said James.
That desire to try a new challenge, as well as a passion for the action-packed sport and a strong desire to be like his boyhood heroes of Hulk Hogan, the Hart Brothers, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker is what kept James going, he added.
It certainly does take dedication to be a professional wrestler.
Training, said James, must be done on a constant, continual basis. Time must be spent in the gym, in the ring and studying tapes, he said.
“It really is a 24/7 kind of lifestyle,” said James.
When James finally did get to debut in an actual match, he found the experience somewhat overwhelming. He said he had butterflies and felt anxious, excited and even a little bit scared, all at the same time.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said James. “I was just hoping I wouldn’t (mess up badly.)”
However, once James got into it, things started falling into place, he said.
“Things got really comfortable.”
Nowadays before a match, James said he still feels anxious, but it is less nerves and more excitement, he said. He thinks more about how to connect with the fans and stay in character and less about how well he will perform.
Character and the ‘show’ part of professional wrestling is necessary to connect with fans, said James.
He added that the fans are the best thing about professional wrestling and the most important part of the business.