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Bodybuilding vs. Pro-Wrestling
by Ric Drasin on 2001-10-23

Everytime I step foot out the door, I am approached by someone who say's, "you're a Wrestler aren't you"? Kid's run up for autographs as do Adults and the older generation for their kids. It's fun and I enjoy giving them out. But to get to that point in Wrestling took many years of hard work, hard training and a numerous amount of pain. Let's turn back a few pages when I began. I was 21 and had been competing in Bodybuilding for a few years and winning a few local titles including Mr. California. Yeah I was a good looking sun tanned guy with blonde curly hair and an abundance of girls calling me. My Dad in the early years would take me to Wrestling Matches every Thursday night without fail. I was intrigued by it. I wondered if maybe someday I'd enjoy doing that also. Well as I was training on a Thursday at the local YMCA, a few of the Wrestlers came to town to workout before their match. We started talking in the weight room about the business and I told them that I'd be interested in getting into it. They told me to come on down to the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles and talk to the booking office as someone there could possibly train me. I was living in Bakersfield about 108 miles away from there but decided to make the trip and find out. I went in on a Monday morning and into the auditorium where 14000 seats were vacant and you could smell the cleaning solution of the workers mopping the aisles. What a pungent odor! I went upstairs and walked into the office and there sat 4 men behind a desk, 3 of them top wrestlers who were making up schedules for that week. I kind of stuttered and told them that I was inquiring about becoming a wrestler. They asked a few questions and told me to take off my shirt to see if I had a body that could handle it. Well, I blew them away as I was very muscular and most wrestlers then were fat old men. They took me into another room where as small ring was set up and introduced me to Women's World Champ. Johnnie Mae Young. I'd seen her wrestle. She was a tough old gal who could really kick ass. We talked and she took me into the ring and showed me some stuff. I ended up with mat burns and pretty sore. She asked, so, "do you want to come back tomorrow for more"? I agreed. She said that she felt that she could make some money with me because of my looks and would proceed to train me for the next 6 months 5 days a week. I drove back and forth every day for the 5 days a week and then came back and trained in the gym with weights. It was hard. She had 6 other guys that trained with us and two girls. Most of them dropped out. I stuck with it as I knew that I could handle the abuse. She taught me every style possible, including Mexican style which means you work to the right side instead of the left.

Women had to work harder than men in order to prove themselves and get over with the crowd. So I had to learn to work women's style also which is tons of holds and a lot of bumps!! That was ok, as it made me a better wrestler. She booked me on my first match with Buddy Killer Austin. I'd seen this guy work too, and scared the hell out of me. He was a Huge blonde guy with a big stomach (hard as a rock) huge hands and a Killer face! He came into the training room and locked up with me to show me a few things. He locked up so hard that I saw stars. I thought, this is it, I'm gonna die! Anyway we started our match that Wed night for TV and worked about 5 min in the ring and he beat me with a 'pile driver'. It was a real experience and I loved it. It was the most fun that I'd ever had and couldn't wait till the next match. He was great to work with and showed me a lot. From that point, I started working 5 nights a week with different wrestlers every night. They booked me with World Champions to just everyday wrestlers. Each had their own style and I learned from all of them. I took a lot of ribbing at first as I was the only one that was a Bodybuilder and there was some jealously. But they got over it when I proved myself to them. From there I worked all over the US in different territories. Canada, the South, Montreal, Hawaii, Alaska, Minnesota,etc. The south was different as the 'red necks' gave me a hard time being from LA or 'Hollywood' as they said.. They wanted to stretch me out in the ring, but after a week of giving it back to them, they accepted me and everything was cool. I was a Jr. Heavyweight Champion and also Heavyweight Champion for CCW. Now 34 years later, I'm still wrestling at 55 and training people for wrestling. I've done numerous TV commercials and films where a Wrestler was needed. I paid my dues over the years and have wrestled for as low as $15.00. Most wrestlers know, it's a labor of love. Pay scales have gone up and down over the 34 years. Some guys work for free just to be seen. I have my own Federation, AWF, American Wrestling Federation and run shows as fund raisers for schools. This gives new guys a chance to work and learn the business before they decide to move on to WWF or WCW. Now getting into that WWF & WCW is another story. I worked for WWF, WCW, AWA, NWA, CCW, etc over the years and this is when they had territories which means that they ran local cities every night. Now it's major cities all over the place 300 days a year. Things have changed immensely. You can't work small towns through them now. Not enough money for them. However there are literally hundreds of wrestlers not working because of this. It put the small promotions out of business for a while. Now that it's so popular, smaller groups are forming and running shows and doing well. Now wrestling is full of guys with great bodies. Everyone works out and everyone is in shape. If not, they won't even look at you. Many wrestlers come from generations of wrestlers. Grandfather, father, son, etc. My son is now getting into it and working with me. AS I said, I get approached constantly and constantly by bodybuilders who want to become wrestlers. They feel since they are huge, and can pose, they can wrestle. Maybe some can but most can't. I've worked with many here in Los Angeles, that are 1/2 my age. They can't last 3 min in the ring without sucking air. I can go at least 20 to 30 min. It takes another type of conditioning. Most aren't willing to sacrifice size to get there. Good chance of injury and maybe no training for a few weeks. No bodybuilder likes that. Neither do I, but it happens.

Here's the thing. You have to be dedicated and know this is what you want. Train in the gym and train in the ring. Find someone good to work with you and show you everything about wrestling from the ground up. Too many guys try to get by with a 'Clothesline, Moonsalt, Frankenstein, Piledriver and when it comes time to do wrestling holds, they're lost. I told a guy who was a body builder as we had a match together and he was nervous as hell. Lets do about 7 min of wrestling holds and then some high spots off the ropes. He told me as we were in the ring, 'But, I don't know any holds'! What??? No one taught him. What a shame, this is about wrestling , not running around the ring posing. You need to learn basics, just as basic weight training before you go off on fancy stuff. You need at least 6 months of ring training everyday. Learn everything. Video tape it, watch yourself and try to improve.

Work on ring presence, persona, but back it up with fire and wrestling holds. It's a lot different than bodybuilding. You're not a STAR until you prove you are and there are always smaller and of course (bigger) guys that'll take you down and make you look foolish in a second. IN fact they do it just to prove it. Once you've trained and have done some small shows then you can apply to WWF and WCW to see if they'll take a look at you. This sometimes takes a year to get around to seeing you.But you better be prepared. They'll run you through some matches, give you a mic and let you talk. They'll criticize you and 'Maybe' give you a development contract. Maybe!. If you get it, they'll work with you and then give you dark matches. Those are the ones they run off TV before the TV show starts. No one sees them, just in case they stink. I have a friend that's been doing them for 3 years for WWF. No one knows who he is yet as thy won't put him on TV. He's huge and could win any contest, but that doesn't mean anything to the promoter, Unless he feels that he can make money with you. Also there is a huge clique involved. It's just like High School's 'in' group. IF you hang with them and play their game, they might accept you. They are the ones that give you the push. If they have anything against you, forget it. you'll get no where. Pro wrestling is the hottest thing on TV, but it's gone beyond what wrestling had started out to be. At some point this'll change and they'll contain it back to the ring again. Wrestling is an art form and takes great skill to learn and execute. Going outside the ring to the dressing room or parking lot using cars, bulldozers, etc for the show doesn't take skill. Taking risks in the ring and endangering you're opponent also doesn't' take skill, it takes stupidity. Therefore to become a wrestler you must use your brain not just brawn. You're in there to do a show and work with your associates and not hurt them. They have to make a living just as you do and be able to work without serious injury. It's one thing to take chances on yourself, but to endanger someone else when you haven't worked on your moves is just plain ignorant. Bodybuilding is one art form and Wrestling is another. They can go hand in hand if you have the proper training and at that point you can be as successful as the 'Pencil" (being the promoter and office) will allow you to be. Only a handful make big money out of it and even at that, it's for a limited time. Your body can't take that abuse for too many years.

Keep in mind that you have to invest your money and have other alternatives when it's over. Nothing lasts forever. If done right and you promote yourself right with a good 'character', then you can use that to open other doors as I have. Acting, commercials, films, personal appearances, birthday parties, events, public service are just a few ways to get yourself out there. People begin to recognize you as a 'Wrestler/Personality' and you can build it into something else and develop a business out of it, just as you have done to develop your body. If this is you aspiration, then I wish you the best of luck. Just remember what I have said and think positive. It can work if you want it to. This is just a guide line to follow.


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