View Full Version : {KOTC R2] A Singaporean's Perspective: Making Wrestling a Reality in my life

02-16-2019, 10:17 AM
205Clive vs JacobWrestledGod – Reality


When I was a kid, Kayfabe was alive and well. Suspending my disbelief was a natural feat. I felt the emotions. I thought what I witnessed - the blood, the swear words, the bumps, the characters - were real. Even after I wised up and knew wrestling was fake, the stunts themselves still held a power over me - the Last Ride, for example, was magnificent; the Pedigree, in my own words was “the most powerful finisher ever”. Every move looked like they hurt. I had a child-like wonder - everyone of us did, right up to our teenage years.

Then, we grew old. Growing up was ok. But the spirit grew old. Cynical. Mature. And we lost the magic.

Wrestling is not real anymore.

Being a seasoned fan means that we see many things through a lens of knowing. Like a prophetic Seer, we sense how matches will go, how this pin is going to be a kick-out, how that guy is going to do and then what comes next. And that’s… boring. And unrealistic. In order to capture my love for wrestling again, I dived into column writing on LOP. The platform allows me to dive deeper than the average wrestling fan. But it's not enough. I want to know pro-wrestling on a more intimate level, because merely watching the show on TV isn't satisfying my hunger for wrestling. I embarked on a quest of actualization, in 3 distinct stages over the past few years:


Stage 1: Watching

Watching wrestling on TV is a regular thing, but I have never been to a live event. WWE came to Singapore in 2007, which I missed. After 8 long years, WWE traveled 10000 miles to the sunny island of Singapore again in 2015. The show was headlined by the hottest feud at that time: John Cena vs Kevin Owens.

The Singapore indoor stadium - about the same size as the Sumo dome in Beast in the East

In the ultra-high definition environment of a live event, wrestling should be more realistic. I thought a live event can present wrestling to me as a more real, visceral experience. I was wrong.

Kofi Kingston vs Neville, opening match.

Despite the great athleticism displayed, I saw a lot of moves such as flying kicks and strikes obviously missing their marks. For example, Neville the high flyer had a big spot where he jumped (and man, gravity did forget him) on all three members of New Days, taking them out before doing his spinning circus move to win the match. However, it was obvious that the moves barely hit the members of the New Day while they pretended to collapse on cue. Without the depth of field and edits from TV to deceive us, wrestling becomes even "faker".

Since then, I have asked myself: how real is wrestling?

I always have a tough time explaining why totally normal adults love watching pro-wrestling. People call it "Fake Sports". Well, for starters it's not fake and secondly it's not a sport. On the surface wrestling can look like some of the most unsophisticated entertainment there is. The problem is that non-fans treated it as a sport but for fans, it's like a soap opera with fight scenes. There are heroes and villains with promos and backstage antics. The fights are scripted but most of the slams, the strikes, and the falls do hurt. There is a vast difference between getting injured and getting hurt, and...

Wrestlers always get hurt.

It's their job to throw themselves at the ground and take punches and kicks to the face for our enjoyment. Chris Jericho says the shock to the body is like a bucket of ice water to the face. That's just the type of pain wrestlers feel when everything is going to plan. That doesn't take into account the accidents which do happen, like when Steve Austin had his neck broken, or when Perro Aguayo Jr. tragically died in the ring after Rey Mysterio kicked him at the side of the head.

So in my journey to find out more about the reality of wrestling, I realized watching wasn't enough. Not even watching the performances live is enough to truly understand the intricacies and the sacrifices of this wonderful performance art.

Stage 2: Learning

In 2015, I had a chance to interview Marissa Alexa McCool, previously known as Al Laiman, the columnist who brought us the acclaimed 30 Thoughts with Al Laiman on the main page of LOP until 2014. Marissa had a previous stint in professional wrestling, but has since retired from the ring due to complications resulting from injuries. My interview with Marissa was enriching and enlightening. Here are some snippets of the interview:

JWG: Hi, first, a bit of short background on your stint. How accepting is the local community of your promotion, and has the promotion been financially sustainable so far?

Marissa: Well, it’s first necessary to say that I didn’t have a local community. I trained in the Pittsburgh area... I know the promotion is still running, with top-level indy talent nowadays. Sterling James Keenan (AKA Corey Graves) had a run at the world title then.

JWG: How is your training regime like, physically? In your opinion, is the training even tougher than certain sports?

Marissa: Comparatively, it’s similar. I did both amateur wrestling and the pro style, and the endurance and physicality are both overwhelming at times... The difference is, you not only get conditioned to getting hit, but learning how not to hurt other people, which makes it much harder. I can’t think of another sport where you’re responsible for someone else’s health and well-being just as much as your own.

Physically though, even the toughest guys get their asses kicked by it at first. Those ropes may look fun to bounce on, but they’re steel wires with garden hose protection... I remember having three bruised lines striped across my back the first day we did ropes. And even basic bumps hurt. They just hurt less when you do them right. If you forget to tuck your head, you will never forget again.

Like with anything physical, it gets better the more you do it... But make no mistake, even the refs learn to take bumps, and they’re no joke. One of the rings in which I trained was a Power Plant ring, and they don’t give at all.

JWG: Do you have times when the pain is too much to bear? How did you cope?

Marissa: It’s been four years since I’ve been in the ring, and I am still in pain every day....

...Usually the adrenaline is so high during the match that you won’t feel anything until the day after the show. I always called it “paying for your choices.” ... I’ve coped the best I could, even still, while trying not to cover it with painkillers or alcohol... I’m lucky I didn’t have a serious injury to deal with, and even I now have scoliosis, misaligned hips, and memory loss from concussions. The adrenaline of wrestling does not come without its consequences.

I say again, for multiple reasons, it’s not for everyone.

JWG: May I ask, how bad is your memory lost, and how long did it happen till you realized it was a problem?

Marissa: I have terrible short term memory, I noticed it almost immediately after my worst concussion, due to a botched piledriver... it was a concussion and a damaged neck, but it could have been much worse.


My main take away is that the physicality of wrestling is as real as it gets. As Marissa put it, wrestlers “pay for their choices”. Marissa's unfortunate short term memory loss is a result of repeated concussions, and Marissa is not even a veteran wrestler like Mick Foley or John Cena, who have possibly took thousands of bumps to the neck and head area over decades.

But wrestling is still a fantasy to me. Hearing from a wrestler is not enough. My research can't end there.
The only way... is to go in the ring and experience it for myself.

Stage 3: Experiencing

So just the past Tuesday, I pluck up my courage and signed up for this:

I signed up for the 12th Feb class.

Grapple MAX is Singapore’s ONLY pro wrestling school, and to appeal to the masses, it chooses to provide pro-wrestling lessons like fitness classes. Doing so opens up opportunities for unhealthy individuals like me to have a taste of pro-wrestling without the dangers of getting slammed in an actual ring. Only the advanced grade 2 students are allowed in the actual ring. For beginners, we do routines on a thick rubber floor mat, giving off a "Dojo" vibe.


It was a cool Tuesday evening, and here I am in a gym with 10 other fat guys staring at 2 trainers, one of whom is Ella, a young unassuming lady in 20s. I am overweight, suffering from gout, and deathly afraid of hurting myself but I knew this was going to be a great experience. After the safety briefing, we started off with warm up drills such as rolling forward around the mat, burpees etc.

I was already feeling faint when we finally started on the first wrestling hold: Hammerlock. It was a very easy move, but my partner was over-enthusiastic for his virgin experience, pulling my arm like he's ripping wings off a roast chicken. I returned in kind. We then moved on to breaking a fall, and repeatedly slammed our bodies backwards on the mat. By the 1 hour mark, I was more than ready to give up as my head and neck area was hurting, despite the soft surface.

"Alright, it's time for some bodyslams!" Ella exclaimed. She rounded us up, and taught us how to take a body slam. Then she got us queuing up in a line to do this:


That ended the experience at a high note. Will I come back again? Sure. Does this means that I have actualized wrestling in my life? Well, I may not be the next Roman Reigns or John Cena, but for an ordinary wrestling fan in sunny Singapore, I think this is as far as I can go to make wrestling beyond just a TV show I watched.

I watched a live event.
I learned from a real wrestler.
I experienced my first lesson.

I have made pro-wrestling a reality in my life.


205 Clive
02-16-2019, 10:42 AM
I'm glad you managed to get a column in on time, Jacob. With your timezone, I was concerned about you getting one in on time!

Your personal journey of consuming wrestling in different ways is a cool success story. Congrats on joining up for the wrestling school!

Good luck to you!

02-16-2019, 01:30 PM
I don't know why you don't like this column. Thats the dream right there man! I would kill to have a gym that teacjes wrestling near me. Our local indy fed does training, but for 1000 USD, and I'm not to sure I want to only learn how to take a chop to the chest lol.

02-18-2019, 02:24 AM
It was really nice to read about all the ways wrestling is in your life! I love the way you used the theme of reality throughout your column. I truly believe that being a fan of pro wrestling needs to involve some level of magic.

And I really don't understand why people always qualify wrestling as being fake... Do you think James Bond killed the bad guy for real? Of course not, well it's the same with wrestling. The guy isn't trying to break the other one's arm for real! But the bumps are real, the toll on the body is real also, and jumping off a ladder will hurt.

It was a really cool take on the subject, I hope the judges appreciate it too!

Rob S.
02-19-2019, 09:46 AM
I struggled with this one a bit, especially considering the effort you put forth in the first round. One of my main issues was the center section where you pretty much re-hashed parts of an interview you previously had done. I'm not sure if you struggled with the topic or time or both but this one seemed pretty thrown together for me.

Good luck!

02-19-2019, 07:07 PM
I think you undersold this, Jacob. True, it’s a bit less polished than some of your efforts, but the content was really engaging and that’s one of the things I look for first and foremost. I liked the three part progression a lot, and I think you did a good job explaining and differentiating the three very different experiences, and tying them into your larger journey. I never experienced the disconnect in wrestling like you, maybe because I started watching at 13 years old with full knowledge that everything I saw was staged, but still I can understand your feelings because you’ve laid them out well. I love that you referenced Laiman in here, she was the one who initially drew me to the CF many years ago with columns about her experiences in wrestling. I remember she would often talk about how most people quit after their first session of training, so if you do go back you’re already ahead of the pack. Good for you for pursuing something that holds such a strange fascination for people like us, and I hope it’s a rewarding experience. Strong column, the visual aids and structure were a major plus on top of a very solid core concept.

The Doc
02-20-2019, 01:34 PM
I found this to be very unique, and thus very engaging. Indeed it was not polished, but if it was going to be unpolished, it needed to be unique and engaging. Even if this was a last minute effort that doesn't see you through, I really enjoyed it

02-20-2019, 01:39 PM
I sort of knew who would like this and who wouldn't before reading responses. Communities can be fun that way. Count me as one that was drawn to what you did here.

02-20-2019, 08:34 PM
Thank you for the responses. When I wrote it, it was tough and rough. i wanted to highlight my personal experiences, and though i reposted the interview, I find that it was one of my highlight in that i had first hand account of how pro-wrestling )in an indie setting) really is like. Anyone wondering where the interview was originally posted, it was from my winning entry in LOP Grand Prix 2014/5 (?) tournament.

Overall, it didn't flow like i like it would and all that. I guess I tried to deliver something unique (indeed it is) but failed in making it all make more sense.

I am glad at least it didnt completely bombed - some of you do enjoy my exploits - but good news is I am going to continue going for Grapplemax classes and is planning on learning more about wrestling, although it really is more of a fitness class than a real indy promotion. I actually think a fitness pro-wrestling class will take off like crazy in US, wondering if anyone with cash and investment would wanna take this idea to other countries....

02-20-2019, 10:47 PM
Dude! I would do it in a heartbeat if I thought the Southwestern US would do such a thing. Its genius.

02-21-2019, 05:55 AM
I've mainly just lurked around these parts, since I enjoy reading the stuff here but never really felt like I had much to contribute. But just wanted to say I enjoyed hearing about you giving wrestling a try, since I'm going through the same thing, been about 5/6 months now. Even though it might not be a dedicated school for wrestling, hope you continue to enjoy it dude, and there's always the potential it might open doors in the future :)

Also, I'm completely with you on how seeing WWE live felt faker than watching it on TV, it's a weird thing that I can't really convey how. But I didn't feel the same way when I saw a TNA show, so maybe its a WWE thing haha.

02-22-2019, 10:32 PM
I think all three of these chapters have a lot of potential as standalone columns. The interview with Marissa, for instance – I feel like that one barely scratched the surface! Would’ve loved to have heard even more insight. The third section was intriguing as well, almost in a conversational way – like, I’d love to sit down over a beer and hear a buddy tell me that story. But I’m afraid I didn’t see the natural connection between all three as smoothly as you had painted it in your initial outset. I think I’d chalk it up in part due to the writing feeling a little segmented between sections, and in part due to content.

Loved your formatting in your opening column, but I think there was a bit of a miss here, albeit with a smaller swing. Namely, the bolding of words seemed a little too frequent and, on an occasion or two, a little too haphazard to have the desired effect. I know you were driving at the “reality” pieces, but I think you overegged your pudding with how often you went to it. Meanwhile, the few times you went bold when not directly talking about “real” or “reality” seemed to stand out unnecessarily as well.

A couple of minor things – I found it odd that you used both “actualisation” and “actualization” in such close proximity. Both are correct, depending on what side of the pond you stick your writing flag in. But generally, you want to be consistent with one or the other. Also, there weren’t too many of these, but I spotted a couple instances of awkward wording – “how bad is your memory lost”, for instance, or “I pluck up my courage and signed up for this”. You’ve got a case of tense inconsistency in the latter.

As I mentioned earlier, I actually really enjoy each of the sections as a shining light, just with circuiting issues when it comes to the entire chain. I think you could’ve plunged deeper into any of the three sections and produced a gem of a column. I liked reading about your unique experience seeing things live in Singapore. I liked the insights from the interview. I loved that you went to learn the basics for yourself – maybe not for this column, but I have an inkling the timing was fitting. Each one, I wanted more out of, though!