(BRITISH) WRESTLING’S GREATEST SECRETS
Whilst trawling Facebook I noticed someone had posted an exclusive film on the ‘neglected world’ of British wrestling on a buddy’s wall. Being a massive wrestling fan during the ‘Attitude’ era of the late 90’s/early 2000’s I just had to check this out. However, I don’t think I was prepared for just how harrowing it would be, despite having seen both The Wrestler and Beyond The Mat (As a quick aside when i went to see Beyond The Mat at the cinema a guy was there taking a girl on their first date. Why would you take a girl to see a feature length documentary on wrestling on your first date!? She must have been a really cool girl), nothing could have prepared me for this. It was like a wrestling episode of Shameless. NB Everyone know’s wrestling is fixed and ‘fake’ so if you want to diss it don’t bother reading any further.
The short film highlights a weekend in the life of ‘Big’ Karl Krammer. Great gimmick. Basically he’s just a fat dude with long hair. He has been wrestling for 25 years though – they probably didn’t have cool gimmicks like The Rock and The Undertaker back then, although my dad always used to talk about a guy called Giant Haystacks. After looking up a picture of him though he just seems to be a fat dude with long hair as well, although apparently he was deeply religious and refused to wrestle on Sundays which is pretty Chariots Of Fire esque and kind of cool, but not really. It probably wouldn’t have got very far in the WWE now as it would have meant he would never have got to take part in Summerslam or Surivivor Series or any of those other sweet Pay Per Views that I used to stay up until 4am for so the annoying Asian kids in my class wouldn’t spoil it by shouting all the results at me on Monday morning. Totally worth it.
Anyway, in this movie you get treated to a great shot of ‘Big’ Karl Krammer putting a leotard on over his GIGANTIC belly. Told you it was harrowing. Then you get to see him drive around in the snow, smoking cigarettes with his son who he’s taken along for the ride, as they head up to wrestle in front of about 100 people in some shitty town like Maidstone. He regales us with stories of his childhood, where a teacher was stabbed at his school and someone let a firework off in his face. Then you get to hear him talk about how he’ll probably be in a wheelchair by the age of 50 and has to take painkillers just to go to the toilet – it’s great stuff, pretty much a real life British version of The Wrestler crossed with Shameless. Check it out below if you’re either a) into wrestling or b) want to feel better about your life.
I guess watching stuff like this particularly fascinates me as I shared a similar lifestyle for the past couple of years playing in a touring band. You might think that touring is fun – and yeah it definitely is – but it’s also a lot of hard work: never having any money, not eating, being bored, sleeping in the van, being stuck in the van all day, being pissed off at everyone you’re on tour with, everyone being pissed off with you, never being able to make a collective decision, etc etc, you get the picture right?
Anyway, I never really thought about this before, but it’s the same experience when you’re a wrestler. But when you’re in a band all you have to do is rock up, load your equipment in, soundcheck, wait around for a bit, play music for about half an hour (or longer if you’re a big shot, sure), load your equipment out and then that’s it. Sure, you go out most nights and get wasted and do drugs but that’s not PART of the job description, it’s optional. These guys get the shit beaten out of them each and every night (OK OK it’s fake and they’re trained but it still fvcking hurts!) by choice and probably have to set up and take down the ring too and then get up and do it again the day after. Maybe that’s cool if you’re earning millions like The Rock but if you’re 43 and wrestling in places like Hastings, Hayes and Basildon it’s got to fvcking suck right?
Nah, you’re wrong. Like the big guy says, you can crack your vertebrae twice and be out of wrestling for three years but nothing will stop you getting in the ring. Not even a hot stripper like Marisa Tomei – it’s what they love and they’re willing to endure all the bullshit of their lives to go out there and live their boyhood dreams and entertain the masses. You might think that’s stupid but I think it probably makes them better men than most people I know. Killing themselves to live, dude. Deep.
Still, being in a touring punk band was probably cooler than being a professional wrestler. Probably.