Scrambling for original, creative and insightful ideas for a weekly column is an exhilarating yet arduous task. So naturally, I was delighted when I received a text message from my good friend and professional wrestler, Logan Shulo (who wrestles for International Wrestling Cartel out of Elizabeth, Pa) proclaiming ?I got your column for next week?. He directed my attention to an article published on Yahoo.com in the ?Sports? section under ?MMA?, written by Steve Cofield, entitled ?Fake Wrestler Wins Real Fight? and has since been renamed ?Lashley wins: Finds out real fighting can be tough from the neck up?. Cofield’s article examines the mental toll Bobby Lashley’s second MMA fight apparently took on him, while surmising that, having come from the world of professional wrestling; Lashley was unprepared to handle the mental stress of MMA competition.
My disdain for the American Media’s coverage (or lack thereof) of professional wrestling is no secret, as I suspect many of you who are reading this column have read my previous column on the negative perception and mistreatment of professional wrestling by the media (?Attention Media: Professional Wrestling is FAKE!?) If not check it out here if you are interested.
Point being, Mr. Cofield’s article is a prime example of the blatant mistreatment of professional wrestling by those in the media. Mr. Cofield’s lack of knowledge or understanding of professional wrestling, his obtuse, narrow-minded thinking and his fantastic notion that professional wrestling is somehow less stressful on the psyche than mixed martial arts has clouded his perception of professional wrestling and has created an unprofessional and unqualified look at ex pro wrestler, Bobby Lashley’s blooming MMA career. As a staunch defender of professional wrestling, I am excited and infuriated when I see absurd news articles dealing with professional wrestling. Infuriated because of the stupidity shown by journalists in regards to pro wrestling and excited because, like today, I get to break said news articles down and expose them for the silly, ill conceived frauds that they are. So open up Mr. Cofield, let’s have a look inside?
It’s uncanny! Right out of the gate, the opening sentence is ludicrous:
?Bobby Lashley is far from acclimated to the real stuff as he makes the transition from the fake world of pro wrestling to mixed martial arts..?
Firstly, it’s safe to say that, with his extensive amateur wrestling background, Lashley is well acclimated to the ?real stuff?. Secondly, vague phrases are a dime a dozen columnists? best friend. What exactly does ?real stuff? and ?fake world of professional wrestling? mean anyhow? Cofield guides his readers from the first sentence with the misleading marriage of ?fake? with ?professional wrestling?, while also establishing pro wrestling as something that is void of any of this ?real stuff?. But again, an intelligent reader has to ask, what is the ?real stuff? and what makes up this ?fake world?? Cofield then treats us with an example to try to explain why Lashley may not be ready for the ?real stuff?, saying:
?If it’s John Cena or Batista saying he’s going to rip your head off, you can just laugh it off. It’s simply part of the act. In just his second pro MMA fight, Lashley admitted some of the pre-fight smack talk screwed with his head.?
Cofield references John Cena and Batista, showing us that he has, at least, watched wrestling one time or can simply rattle off the names of two of the biggest stars in WWE. That’s good, that?ll trick his readers into thinking that he knows a thing or two about the ins and outs of professional wrestling. For his readers and in his own mind, Cofield’s basic namedropping skills qualify him to be an evaluator of the mental and physical stresses of pro wrestling.
With that nonsense established, Cofield explains, if Cena and Batista say they?re going to rip someone’s head off, it’s an act; it can be laughed off, furthering the idea that professional wrestling is just a silly joke, child’s play if you will. However, what Mr. Cofield fails to point out (by design) is that melodramatic verbal jousting that can be taken lightly isn?t exclusive to professional wrestling. If I?m not mistaken, I do believe Mike Tyson once threatened to rip out Lennox Lewis? heart and eat his children. None of that happened during their fight however, and after the match, Tyson praised Lewis up and down for being a stellar fighter, proving that the pre-match lip was all hype. Football players in the NFL talk empty pregame trash all the time, hollow threats to pump themselves up, nothing to be taken seriously, and certainly nothing to fret over. So are John Cena and Batista the only athletes whose smack talk can be laughed off, or is it safe to say that all pre-competition smack talk is silly hype?
Moreover, although Lashley was admittedly shaken by Jason Guida’s pre-match lip and antics, I doubt it had little to do with Lashley being worried that Guida was going to rip his head off and more to do with the fact that Lashley wanted to prove that he was a legitimate fighter and that professional wrestling is a healthy and worthwhile road to travel in order to prepare to enter the world of mixed martial arts. Cofield, however, seems to think that Lashley was mentally unprepared for the lip lashing due to his time spent in WWE. Cofield seems to think that WWE isn?t ?tough from the neck up?. Well Mr. Cofield, that couldn?t be further from the truth.
Why, Mr. Cofield, do you think guys like Lesnar and Lashley left WWE in the first place? Fame? Doubtful, as both performed in front of more fans on a yearly basis than they will ever perform in front of during their respective MMA tenures. Fortune? Again, highly doubtful, as Lesnar was flirting with 7 figures while Lashley was fast approaching that peak. No Mr. Cofield, Lesnar, admittedly left WWE in 2004 because he could not handle the stress of traveling from state to state, country to country, wrestling over 200 days a year, and working injured lest he lose his spot as top dog. He admittedly hated the road schedule, as it burnt him out physically, mentally and emotionally. Lesnar did not have the toughness that it takes, from the neck up, to hang in pro wrestling, so he ventured on over to MMA, where the fights are few and far between, travel is basically nonexistent, the money is right, and the day to day stress is minimal compared to pro wrestling.
Bobby Lashley, on the other hand, left WWE due to ?circumstances beyond my control? as he puts it. A few months before his release he had surgery on his shoulder to repair a torn labrum, an injury sustained in the ?fake world of professional wrestling?, so one can assume he was let go for personal reasons, drug issues, or from lack of use due to his injury. The point is, these two men, one, current UFC Heavyweight Champion, another, undefeated in his first two professional fights, couldn?t hack it in WWE for one reason or another; Lesnar, due to the lack of mental toughness, and Lashley due to injury and other personal circumstances. Both men also knew that being involved in pro wrestling means you have to work injured because if you are not seen, nor heard, you are not a marketable commodity and are thus useless. In the world of mixed martial arts however, if you have a stitched up cut above your eye, as Ken Shamrock did before his fight with Kimbo Slice, you are not permitted to fight and your fight will be cancelled. Sounds like a decent bargain.
Continuing?just how tough is professional wrestling from an outsiders perspective? Why don?t we ask Sylvester Stallone how tough it was working with Hulk Hogan on Rocky III? I once heard Stallone remark that out of all the people he’s worked with, boxed and fought with in the Rocky movies, his time with Hogan was the most physically taxing. Why don?t we ask Mickie Rourke, former professional boxer turned actor, just how tough it is physically and mentally, simply to learn the basic training needed to effectively pull off stunts in a wrestling movie? I believe he remarked that it was harder to learn and hurt more than anything he has done in boxing. Hell, the best example of outside athlete experience in professional wrestling is none other than Pittsburgh’s own Kurt Angle. This man was the best amateur wrestler on the planet in 1996, winning an Olympic gold medal in Men’s Freestyle Wrestling that year, and he will be the first one to tell you that professional wrestling is more mentally, physically and emotionally tough than his amateur days ever were. The stresses of travel and the mounting injuries from performing almost nightly for WWE forced Kurt Angle, in 2006, to seek a lighter, less taxing schedule with the professional wrestling company TNA. A man who was once the greatest wrestler on the planet couldn?t handle the stresses of WWE, and in under seven years, as he was about to physically break down, Kurt Angle sought a lighter payload elsewhere. And you, Mr. Cofield, have the gull to suggest that Lashley’s time in WWE did not provide him with adequate mental toughness? If anything, Lashley should spend more time in WWE to build on his mental toughness.
Furthermore, why do MMA fans, analysts and journalists alike feel the need to bash professional wrestling at every turn? It’s extremely hypocritical and ridiculous if you really sit back and look at it. First of all, BROCK LESNAR IS THE UFC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION, HE?S MAKING TONS OF MONEY FOR UFC AND SKYROCKETING THEIR BUYRATES! That’s right; coming straight from the ?fake world of professional wrestling? Brock Lesnar rocks the MMA world by kicking UFC ass and almost tripling their regular PPV buy rates. Do people actually think that UFC is number 2 in PPV buy rates for 2008 because of stellar marketing and product awareness employed by UFC? Sorry to burst the bubble, but UFC’s surge in popularity, revenue, and buy rate numbers is due to three letters: W.W.E. It sucks to hear if you?re a diehard MMA loyalist, but it’s true (it’s damn true!) The UFC’s three most bought PPV’s were headlined by Brock Lesnar, with a combined North American buy rate of 2,235,000 buys. MMA fans are dying to see someone put this ?phony wrestler? in his place, while professional wrestling fans love seeing their professional wrestling ambassador strut his stuff in UFC. At the end of the day, it’s big money for UFC and it’s all because of WWE.
MMA (especially UFC) is slowly becoming more and more like professional wrestling every day, which is a good thing, if those in the MMA realm want to make money. From title belts to entrance music, fireworks, colorful personas, catchy ring names, flashy looks and dramatic attitudes, MMA is slowly integrating itself into the ?fake world of professional wrestling? ::gasp::, stealing pro wrestling’s best assets like Christianity steals from Paganism (hello Easter!)
Unfortunately for Mr. Cofield, I?ve gone long and I?m straying from the point, but to bring it all back home Bob Dylan style, You want to be tough from the neck up, spend a few years in WWE wrestling 208 days a year, injured or not, in front of thousands of demanding fans, or better yet, on the independent circuit like my friend Logan Shulo, breaking your neck for $40 bucks a month and free concession stand food. Or you can take the less stressful route, fight two times a year, a maximum of thirty minutes at best, land a lucky punch and become champion of the world. You don?t have to fight if you?re hurt, and you have enough time between bouts to heal most wounds.
In closing, if Bobby Lashley was taken back at all by his opponents silly jabberwocky, it wasn?t because he wasn?t mentally strong enough to take the trashing, it was because he was anxious to prove that he was perfectly capable to kick some ass, and to prove that his tenure in WWE was time well spent, as it sufficiently prepared him to handle whatever ?real stuff? may come his way.
If you agree with me, shoot Steve Cofield an email (email@example.com)and let him know how you feel. If you love professional wrestling like I do, defend it for all it’s worth, don?t be afraid to stand up to ignorant no nothing journalists who think they have a handle on pro wrestling because they can name two of today’s top stars. And as always, if you agree, disagree, like what you see or want to debate me, send me an email ? Norty840@yahoo.com.