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article imageThe World Of Professional Wrestling-Before The Glamour

By Roger Corral     Feb 23, 2009 in Entertainment
With movies like The Wrestler portraying the wrestling industry before the glamour and fame, just how accurate is the description?
We hear it all the time: "blood, sweat and tears is what it took to get to were I am today."
We hear it from football players, actors, and even rag to riches lottery winners whose challenges were quickly turned with some spur of the moment luck.
Most people who utter such words have gone through trials and tribulations to accomplish a certain goal, but imagine doing it all for nothing more than a few standing ovations and a few quick dollar bills to fill up the gas tank.
Welcome to the world of professional wrestling.
Over the years, wrestling has grown into a part of today's pop culture, but many of its aspects remain deep rooted in old traditions with the spread of independent federations throughout the country.
Ballrooms and empty warehouses serve as the perfect locations.
Shows are put on in front of small crowds, sometimes just 10 or 15 people.
A wrestling entrance that is nothing more than an open door or no door at all.
No flashing lights.
No entrance music.
A simple wrestling ring stands in the middle of the room, taking up most of the space inside.
Wrestlers have to duck their heads as they jump the top rope, as the small venue provides no room for a high-flying maneuver.
The crowd, with the hard-earned money made from working regular day jobs, pull out $10 bills to get in and watch any type of wrestling event.
"Indies" can be found in almost any city with a large enough fanbase.
Just lie any other profession, stereotypes are assumed about these performers, but many people within the business are your regular next door neighbors who simply love the "sport."
Bill Jensen, 27, is from Cedar Falls, Iowa and has been an indie wrestling referee for eight years.
"It started with a pro wrestling group at my University (The University of Northern Iowa). They would put a show once a month throughout the school year and I would always attend," Jensen said. "I had planned to go ask for a security job, but their referee quit a week before I went so they asked me if I wanted the job and I took it."
Jensen does referee work on the weekends, but throughout the week he holds a regular job working full time for a mortgage company called GMAC.
"All my co-workers actually get a kick out of it and support me through it all," Jensen said.
Dave Parsons, 24, is from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and began his own wrestling promotion company six years ago.
It began as a simple project to start-up a company, which eventually evolved into the creation of International Anarchy Wrestling.
"I wanted to try and run my own company and I chose the wrestling industry, I always wanted to be involved and since I knew I didn't have the body for it, it came to me to start promoting," Parsons said.
Despite the small crowds and the small venues, there's a lot of work that goes into creating an indie federation.
"It's hard business to draw people in so I am terribly in debt right now, more than $15,000. Right now I'm taking a break to refinance and hopefully ge the fed back on is feet," Parsons said. "To start a good local one, you need at least $2,500 or $3,000."
Parsons didn't have much success with his federation, so he plans on entering the film business, possibly the adult entertainment industry.
"I just want to have my own company and there's a lot of money in porn," Parsons said.
Unfortunately, there are many dangers that run rampant in small wrestling promotions.
There are no rules or regulations to be followed and everyone is an independent contractor.
"Indie wrestling is totally different than TNA (Total Nonstop Action) or WWE (World Wrestling Federation)...there are no drug policies, simply put, dude could blaze a joint and go work a match without anyone saying a thing; doesn't really matter in indie," Parsons said.
For those who wish to become a part of the act, the training isn't much easier than the promoting.
Students who begin training spend up to three months learning the basics.
The training is rigorous takes its toll on any body by the end of the first day.
The training system is designed to have the new prospects earn their way to the top. They are picked on and often, abused physically, to test their mental and physical capabilities inside the ring.
The technique may be considered wrong or inhumane, but in this business, it's the way that keeps everyone grounded and with respect towards one another.
The ring where they train is not any better.
Ring ropes are made of cable wire, wrapped in soft fabric similar to a ring mat, though major organizations like the WWE use real ropes.
One simple run against them and burn marks will cover your entire back for days, until your body gets accustomed to it.
The ring mat itself lies on top of wood, which is upheld by a large coil spring that is used to help wrestlers take their landing and create a jumping effect.
Aside from the rough surfaces, trainees learn to do simple moves like arm drags, clotheslines and the favorite-learning how to fall.
"I was trained by two guys who were trained by Harley Race and Curt Henning (former major professional wrestlers)," Jensen said, who also had to go through training to understand what a wrestler must go through in order to truly appreciate their craft. "A new student may have to take as many as 100 bumps (falling on your back) in one day, which leaves your body sore for weeks."
Once a student has crafted their wrestling skills, they are on their own in trying to find independent jobs.
In this business, nothing is guaranteed. Some make it, others decided it's not worth it. Some will give up from the pains and aches the bumps will take on your body. Others will continue on.
But when you already have your blood, sweat and tears...sometimes you just have to.
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