You see it most Friday nights on FOX8. Grown men throwing each other around a ring and loving every second of it.
World Wrestling Entertainment is a primetime hit on Fox television — and around the world. It did nearly a billion dollars in revenue in 2019, so you can understand why a young man might have his head turned by it.
“For young wrestlers, coming in, they see what’s on television and they think that’s going to be the norm. They come in they’re going to be superstars, the money, they’ll be famous and all that and not realize the work and the grind that’s involved,” said Josh Gerry, a former pro wrestler himself, who now runs a school teaching aspiring wrestlers how to make the most out of what they have.
”I’ve been doing this for about 21 years and everybody’s like, ‘Why do you do it? What’s the pull? Why do you like that stuff?'” Gerry said. “You get to do things in the ring that you don’t normally get to do out in the streets and in public.”
But you can’t just walk in a ring and expect to be popular. You have to not just create but nurture and develop a character that people want to see. The best characters, Gerry says, are part of who you really are, but exaggerated in a way that’s entertaining.
“You have to have an entire package: you have to have a look you have to have a walk, you have to have a name, all that tells a story,” Gerry said.
The dozen or so aspiring wrestlers in Gerry’s class on this night are soaking it all up.
“It’s just the ultimate story for me,” said Will Lothian, a former television studio cameraman. “The good guys, the bad guys — you just want that ultimate prize.”
Sure, they’ve heard the calls that it’s all fake.
“We’ve had guys come in, have one class and say, ‘Man, this is tougher than I thought it would be,’ and we never see them again,” Gerry said.
“I mean, the injuries are real. It still hurts,” said Will Bannon, an Army vet who goes by the name “Will Labor.”
They may not all be superstars like North Carolina’s Ric Flair, whom Bannon idolizes.
But, “Everybody is always somebody’s favorite wrestler,” said Gerry, right before he reminds his students that you don’t want to be the tribute band. You want to be the band.
See Gerry’s class in action, in this edition of the Buckley Report.