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The day I became a Wrestler
by Adam Knight on 2002-12-07

(Adam Knight contributes the following personal tale of how in training, the business separates those who can from those who can't by testing their resolve and commitment. Adam takes the time to contribute thoughtful columns about his experiences in wrestling and are worth checking out in our articles archive.)

I began training as a wrestler back in the fall of 1995. I was bombing out of my second year of university, and generally going through a rough period of my life (not that anyone particularily cares, right?).

I was training under the old River City Wrestling banner (the most successful version of the organization) with Vance Nevada as my trainer. Vance was only two years into the game himself at the time and had just begun his first booking job. This is not meant derogatorily at all, I'm just trying to remain factual.

I entered the class with two of my good friend, Jay (who ended up becoming Spice Richards before retiring a record 7 times - lol) and Chad (Ripley - who just made a successful comeback to the game after a serious neck injury.) Both Spice and Chad were very athletic and had a better grasp on the fundamentals of wrestling, allowing them to zip through the class and accelerate well past my level. Much to my disgust.

At the time, I was 6'5", and probably hovering around 300 lbs. While this morning (November 12, 2002) I weighed in at a not-so-slender 276-ish lbs, I would like to contend that I am in ten times the physical condition that I was then. These days, I have muscle mass, coordination and at least a smidgen of athletic ability. In 1995, the most lifting I ever did were the burgers, fries, milkshakes and slurpees to my mouth. I was a mess.

Vance had no idea of what to do with me. I couldn't hit the ropes, my bumps were shitty, and I couldn't pick up simple reversals if my life had depended on it. All I could do was hit the turnbuckles well (something I still consider to be one of my better attributes - nobody hits a turnbuckle like the Kareoke Cowboy, Goddammit .... Sorry, digressing).

These days, I empathize with Vance's dilemma. Here he had a trainee who possessed the right height, the necessary desire to punish himself, but no physical skills to speak of.

I don't know how what happened next came to be ... but without this moment in time, I would have been done as a wrestler (as some of my critics would have loved to see.)

One day, I was asked to show up early for training at the infamous Chalmers C.C. After setting up the ring, Vance put me through my shitty basic drills for a while before leaving the room. When he came back to the ring, he brought with him the one man that I was more intimidated of (at that time) then anyone else in the world: Brian Jewel.

At the time, Jewel was at least a 12-year veteran. I knew that he'd wrestled all over North America, spent a great deal of time in Kansas City and was with the AWA for a period. I also knew that he had a reputation for being impatient with greenhorn rookies.

"All right, Horse," Vance said to me with a completely straight face. "Brian is going to work with you for the rest of today." And then he left.

No question here ... I was petrified.

Jewel was very nice at the start. He spoke softly and tried to establish a comfort level. Within moments, I began to relax. I recognise what he was doing now ... He was setting the lamb up for the slaughter by gaining its confidence. It worked too.

After watching me run through the basics for a couple of seconds (all without laughing), he offered to throw a couple of clotheslines for me.

First one: I took a shitty bump WAY too early. "Try not to anticipate so much," Jewel said to me.

Second one: I shied away and took a shitty bump. "Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you."

Third one: just plain sucked.

"Okay, I've got an idea," Jewel said after I'd taken a moment to rest. "I'm going to show you how to take a clothesline the way that I was shown how. All you have to do is come off the ropes the same way and let me take care of everything."

I was excited. I was going to learn how to take a clothesline! The way that Jewel learned how! This was Awesome!

So there I came, bounding off the ropes with my head up high and a weak grin on my face as I was prepared to take a proper clothesline fo rhte first time in my life.

That was when Jewel leapt into the air, wrapped his elbow around my neck. My head snapped back and the momentum swept me off my feet, slammimg me to the mat with every ounce of his weight and squarely on the canvas.

It was a perfect back bump.

Through the pain and hazy stars before me, I saw Jewel staring me right in the eyes. "That's what you're supposed to do. Now, I'm going to give you another clothesline. If you fuck THIS one up, we're going to do it MY WAY until you get it right."

The next ten clotheslines I took were, in a word, textbook.

That's how the next hour and 45 minutes went for me. Where I would give it everything I had, striving to get it right under the ever-present fear of doing things "Jewel's Way" if I screwed it up. And I did screw up again, and I did do it "Jewel's Way" again. And the next day I had bruises, and aches, and pains and agonies in places that I never knew existed. If I screwed up more than once, I got chopped and was forced to do it again.

But despite everything, that was the most important and useful training session of my entire life. I had the wrestling business beaten into my body until it became second nature. I still screw up, and every time I do, I feel a remembered Brian Jewel chop sting across my chest and the determination to do it better next time.

And today's rookies think they have it rough.

*You know, I don't think that I ever thanked Brian for that day. I hope he gets to read this, because I honestly believe that without him, I would never have gotten to do all of the things that I have.

Thanks Brian. I mean it.

*****

As always, make sure to check out www.PCWlive.ca to catch up on all the latest from the top promotion in Central Canada today.

Until next time,

A.K.


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