I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!
Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley character used to repeat this daily affirmation in the mirror. It made him feel good about himself, regardless of his flaws, others too, like Michael Jordan who likely didn’t need to tell himself he was “good enough” as he was in fact great.
In wrestling way too many must do this daily affirmation, and believe it to be true, no matter their talent, their look, their weight, their level of physical conditioning, etc. None of that matters. They are good enough! They take on names like “Icon”, “World’s Greatest Athlete”, “Superstar”, “Indy Sensation” and numerous other superlatives, and rarely is the use by them “tongue in cheek”. Too many of these “athletes” look in the mirror and must see something others may not as frequently those using these superlatives are not as advertised. They are not in shape. They wear t-shirts to the ring. They’ve have less than 5 years experience, often way less. They can’t put a match together. They suck.
I receive way too many DVDs with matches and promos from wrestlers who are no where near ready to even stray out of their own backyard or local wrestling show, much less perform for top Indy promotions or the ultimate goals TNA and WWE. I’ve started getting blunter in my comments to wrestlers.
I’m thinking that some of the reason why so many wrestlers think they are ready before they are even close has to do with changes in the wrestling business. Gone are the territories, where a wrestler could truly learn his craft. Increasingly too, training is being done by folk who have no reason doing it, yet after manufacturing a wrestling past, credentials if you will, these folk charge fees and train, and the result is often not pretty. Sure there are good trainers and good schools out there, some that even can graduate someone and get them started wrestling matches in front of crowds against wrestlers better than them where the real training occurs. Still too many trainers take a fee, train folk in the basics and then regardless of how they do, graduate them, sending them out believing they are ready to rumble, but not so much.
The other “gimmick” that wrestlers buy into “literally” is training seminars, believing that by going to these they will be discovered and get a job, simply because they paid the fee charged. There is nothing really wrong with these training seminars particularly those run by WWE like the FCW “try-outs”, or by guys like Harley Race, Dory Funk Jr., Terry Taylor, Les Thatcher etc, but the expectation as to what can or will happen is an issue. Wrestlers need to understand that just because they paid a fee and attended seminar (s) it does not in any way suggest they are getting closer to getting a job with TNA & WWE. More likely they will be out some money, and hopefully learn a few things, but being discovered is a long shot. So when wrestlers attend these sessions they should please be realistic in their expectations. Just because you paid to “try-put” at FCW does not mean you are any closer to getting hired. In fact you may have taken a step back, because if the “trainers” at FCW report to the WWE office that you suck, your chance of getting booked by them as an extra, and getting to work out prior to a WWE TV taping in the ring with Jamie Noble and be seen by folk who can hire you may now never happen. Remember, the primary reason these training sessions or “try-outs” are held is to make money. The carrot of being hired as a result is more gimmick than reality. Please look at who got WWE spots from past FCW “try-out” camps. In most cases WWE re-hired folk they had released, not new talent.
Recently, a well known wrestling manager, Sinister Minister, Jim Mitchell thought he had a “try-out” scheduled at FCW. Jim has pretty good experience having worked in ECW, WCW (as James Vandenberg), TNA and even in my NWA Wildside. He is pretty well known, as is his promo skill, and he has a unique look, so he’s a tough guy to forget. He stands out in a crowd. Jim had communicated with a friend in WWE who suggested he should contact Steve Keirn & Dusty Rhodes at FCW and see if he could “try-out” there, which might encourage WWE to hire him. So he wrote Steve Keirn & Dusty Rhodes and asked about a try-out. Jim sent basic career info to Steve, plus links to a few interviews he had done which were on you tube. Of course Dusty knew him as he worked with him in ECW & TNA., but it was Steve who responded writing “tryout May 1 at FCW”. Jim asked for details. Steve wrote “you are trying out for WWE what else?” So Jim believed he had a try-out scheduled, and no suggestion that he needed to pay a fee was made. To be safe Jim then wrote asking if the $1000 fee, and 4 days applied to him. Steve replied “if you want to try-out that is the time”. Jim had not mentioned time in his e-mail, just asked about the fee. You see Jim had no desire to pay a fee to try-out, and believed he was at least somewhat known by the industry, maybe even WWE, and possibly even Mr. Keirn with whom he had he had shared a ride at least once. Jim showed up on May 1. He dressed in his full gimmick, the one that makes him stand out in a crowd. When he got to the FCW building he was relatively ignored. Folk were busy folding t-shirts. He approached Mr. Keirn and asked him about the try-out he had scheduled. Steve asked if he had filled out the forms for the try out camp, the one that cost $1000. Jim reminded him that they had exchanged e-mails, and he had asked about the fee, etc. He was there to try-out, not pay a fee, nor hang around for 4 days like the others. He has a regular non-wrestling job he had taken off to drive to Tampa from Orlando. Steve then told him the announcer and manager try-outs had been in January. Jim left. No try-out. Nothing.
What is the moral of this story. Well, honestly I’m not 100% sure. What I do know is that Mr. Keirn, may not have ever intended to give a WWE try-out to Jim Mitchell regardless of their communications and Jim’s reasonable expectations from them, and that his focus was the try-out camp with the $1000 fee, a money making business for him and FCW. Maybe wrestlers can or should learn from this to lower expectations when they pay the fee and not deceive themselves into thinking it will lead to a job.
I recommend wrestlers do their best to “master your craft” as Les Thatcher frequently writes. Get to as many promotions as you can. Try to wrestle folk better than you as much as possible. Send DVD’s, pics, bios to Terry Taylor at TNA & Ty Bailey at WWE, but only when you are really ready. Don’t think that the money you spent at a training session influences them as it doesn’t. What will impress them is your ring work, your personality, your “big league” look, your talent.
You really do need to be “good enough”, not just drink the kool aid of a daily affirmation, and no amount of training session nor try-out money you pay will ever be enough to make that less true.