By Kim Artlip, Columnist
So, you have decided you want to become a pro wrestler but where are you going to get your training from?
Let’s just say that because there is no regulatory agency or set of standards for wrestling training, just about anybody can rent a warehouse, set up a gym and claim to show you the ropes.
The old maxim “those who can, do, those who can’t, teach” is sadly still alive in the wrestling world. Many schools are run by former “talent,” people who may have appeared in a single dark match for a major company or it can be someone whose career never took off but they took some classes from a former name. There’s no way of stopping people like that making that their job, but it doesn’t help their students learn what it takes to rise to the top.
It’s a terrifying reality that there are so-called schools out there snookering in local residents and exploiting their dream of having a career in professional wrestling. But honestly, potential students are just as guilty as these wannabe trainers. You have to use due diligence and look at who and what you are getting into.
Please believe me that I’m not writing this to shoot on anyone in particular, but I see so many questionable “schools” popping up that it makes me nervous for the safety and well-being of anyone going to these places to learn the sport. It only takes one botched move to have permanent damage.
Let’s take a few minutes to really drill down and talk about what the best practices are if you are an aspiring pro wrestler. Just what exactly are the red flags being sent out by shoddy wrestling schools that you should be looking for in order to protect yourself? First and foremost, go to the school and observe. Don’t just believe everything they say as the gospel truth. Realize that there are people out there that will toss out words and recognizable names that might impress you and be what you are listening for, but are they delivering? Be wary of schools that post photos of wrestlers who may take occasional classes or use their ring for testing moves being used in their advertising on social media as if they trained that person. That does happen often actually.
Before you lay down a year’s deposit, ask yourself if you are being trained by someone who has actual ring experience and a firm grasp of the basics and essential holds? Don’t be shy or hesitant to ask who trained them, where, when, how long. How many promotions have they worked for and at what level? Ask them for videos or photos of their matches. You are looking for someone with ring experience not just someone who did a few matches back in the day. If they have zero proof they were a ring veteran, just run.
Are they offering more than just basic moves? Are they offering advanced courses and who teaches the various levels? Are the moves being demonstrated and taught by someone experienced or are two students with no actual match experience used to demonstrate technique? Is conditioning and cardio part of the training? Is the staff trained and experienced in personal training? What are their qualifications to train? Do they have any experience and certifications? Becoming ring ready and able to perform for an extended period of time is vital. There is no “timeout” during a match and it is vitally important not only for your safety and the safety of your opponent that you can perform the moves.
Do they offer a variety of classes, options, pricing and payment plans and a diversity of trainers? Beware of wrestling schools that don’t post the cost of tuition. This can be used as a tactic to alter their price or later claim additional costs are involved. Do they offer live events or open houses so the public can go watch, observe, ask questions and learn more about the facility and staff? Be wary of any facility that charges a “try-out fee.”
Do they have a physical location for their business? I’ve seen posts of “schools” popping up in driveways where the owner still lives with their parents. Do they market their training school? Is it only just a Facebook page with website or email address? Look for a business license clearly displayed as well as certifications, insurance and other pertinent paperwork. Be sure to look for photos inside their facility, posters from matches their students have performed at as well as photos on their social media pages. Are any of these students actually working in the sport?
Do they have reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter? Are their followers actual workers that you have heard of and are active in the sport? Check into their ratings and reviews on the Better Business Bureau, Ripoff Report and various local review sites. Are their reviews only from their own family members and Facebook friends, not wrestler or actual students? Reach out to any wrestlers who are listed as trained there and ask about their experience there.
Are they affiliated with any wrestling organizations? This is key that you are developing relationships with local promotions who work with the training schools. Take note if you are networking during your training on the reactions of promoters and wrestlers when you mention who is training you. If you are going to left on your own after training to secure all bookings, you need to know if you are starting off as a disadvantage.
I know it’s a lot to think about but you are putting your life, body, and dreams in the hands of a training school. You wouldn’t buy a car without or video game without reviews and research so do the same diligence on a training school. Be smart and make informed decisions. So until next week, ignite your fire and follow your dreams.
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