The Ring And The Stage: The Marriage Of Wrestling And Music
A few years ago my friends and I came to the realization that we still love professional wrestling. It’s the same situation as having a guilty-pleasure song, but as you grow older you realize it doesn’t have to be a guilty-pleasure… it’s just good! I grew up surrounding myself with WWE (then WWF) action figures, video games, the whole mess. I even remember having my Mom looked up the local Toys R Us number so I could call in each week asking when the new line of action figures was shipped. I was a dedicated, overweight youngster with a few too many Stone Cold Steve Austin shirts in my closet. It’s strange that one day my love for music would somehow intertwine with this other world and the lines would start to blur. Sounds crazy, right? Keep reading.
I believe it was on my birthday two years ago when a wrestler named CM Punk walked out on the entrance ramp, sat down, and on live television began airing his grievances with the company. He called wrestlers by their real names, he called out the suck ups and the ass kissers, and he laid it all out on the line for millions to see. This wasn’t acting, he let himself be real for a second and to me, I was hooked on wrestling all over again. There was a straight edge, punk rock loving wrestler out there covered in tattoos telling me and the rest of the world that even though he was a big deal, he knew he deserved more. He was sick of how things were. He was leaving if he didn’t get the notoriety he was looking for… boy does that sound familiar. Because of this stunt, CM Punk’s comeback launched him into super stardom. He became a main-eventer and was a household name for wrestling fans. We finally had someone like us to cheer for and believe in after years of these “heroes” I couldn’t relate to at all. The same idea as mainstream music getting so bad to the point where the underground will breed some of the best music out of spite: the creation of punk rock.
When we started touring we all jumped in a van together with our gear and headed across the country. We just wanted gas money to get to the next show so we could keep doing what we love. The connections we made with people by hanging out at shows and later that night, sleeping on the floors, was incredible. It’s something money can’t buy. Some of these connections you make can later become some of your best friends. You get supporters, a place to spend the night and get a hot meal. Surprisingly, I found out professional wrestlers are doing the exact same thing. If you’re not on top, you jam pack a rental car with a few of your buds and drive yourself to the next event. I’m talking WWE wrestlers here, not the little leagues. Once you “make it” you finally get that tour bus we all hope for one day. From the rental car or van to the tour bus. Regardless of your situation, you spend most of your time on the highway, at an airport, on a plane, or practicing to be the best at what you do.
Another similarity between the life of a touring musician and professional wrestler is an unfortunate one: the business. You start at the bottom and bust your ass to get to the top. You want to be on TV or playing in people’s earbuds (stereos exist still, right?). The problems arise when “playing favorites” comes into fruition. The higher-ups start looking at album sales, ticket sales, merch sales and the same goes for wrestlers. You can be set up perfectly and one simple mistake or stall in momentum can screw up and even end careers. You’ll see a wrestler blowing up and shooting to the top, then suddenly some nobody will destroy them in a match. The writers don’t know how to fit them into the schedule. Their matches at Pay Per Views are abruptly cut. It’s all very real and a huge bummer. Just like a fledgling band trying to make it with an album, stores not carrying it, and people just don’t know what to do with their record in the current music landscape. That’s why a lot of bands just get shelved and have to wait a year for their album to get released. It’s craziness. Luckily, we’ve been fortunate enough to avoid that extreme.
Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending to this tale. We all go through a rigorous traveling schedule, deal with the awkward business side of things, but we also can relate because of this. Through the magic of social networking we’ve become buds with a few wrestlers. There’s this strange punk rock/wrestling world merger happening lately and it’s awesome. Some guys like CM Punk and Seth Rollins (two VERY rad wrestlers) are acknowledging bands they love publicly and spreading the word. Even Daniel Bryan posted a thing about one of my favorite musicians, Frank Turner, the other day. Bands get wrestlers into shows, they get us into their events. We all get it and we all help each other out.
The point of this all is to show there’s a deeper rooted, non-ironic, appreciation for wrestling right now in the music world. We’re all entertainers. We all sacrifice a normal life to make people happy, or entertain them, or just make them feel anything. There’s ups and downs, but we’re all in it together. I think it’s a nice time to start seeing some good role models and believable people at the top again. I think we’re all itching to see one of us in the spotlight.
Pre-order the new album from The Swellers, ‘The Light Under Closed Doors’, right HERE!
And listen to the new song, “Should”, right HERE!
What are your thoughts on all of this?
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