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Posted in: In Laiman's Terms
IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: The Unwritten Fear
By Al Laiman
Feb 24, 2012 - 8:52:09 PM



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IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: The Unwritten Fear

I've done this a hundred times in training. I trust the guy on the outside is going to catch me. We're friends; he wouldn't let me get hurt, would he? This floor seems really rough. I think that's an oil spot near his foot. What if he slips on it and I crash into those kids in the front row?

Nothing ever takes that feeling in the pit of my stomach away when it comes to doing a high risk move. Even something as simple as a flip bump has the possibility of not getting enough air and landing on your head. The visions of Sabu landing on his head or others landing horrible botches replay in fast motion hundreds of times.

What if I hurt myself to the point that I'll never be able to wrestle again? This isn't even a career at this level. The guys up top at least make enough money to cover their expenses and have contracts. Down here, nobody's going to care outside of my family, friends, and the guilt of the guy who messed up if he forgets to catch me.

What if I'm never able to hold my kids again? What if I'm never able to walk again? What if I have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair? How will I explain it? Is anyone really going to feel bad if I got injured doing something so stupid? No one outside the industry really takes this seriously anyway. Why on earth did I have to fall in love with doing this?

When you think about it logically, jumping off the top rope to the outside is a really stupid idea. You're twelve feet in the air, and you're trusting your jump to be just right. You're trusting the guy below you to not only catch you, make it look believable, handle your weight, not let you get hurt, not hurt himself, and continue on with the match afterward. Who really has it harder? Is it worse to get hurt or know that you let someone get hurt?

What must it be like with those guys who do even more dangerous moves? All the flips and piledrivers; every time they almost land on their head, what goes through their minds? What if they have stingers? Does it make them reconsider letting someone do that move? I know when I was an idiot and was wrestling in the backyard, getting DDTed on my head nearly knocked me out, but I finished the match. I know in that battle royal, I was piledriven with being told beforehand, and was knocked out for nearly five minutes, all of it on camera. Hearing the reactions of everyone who sees the video makes me grateful that I wasn't more seriously injured, and also like an idiot for doing something so foolish.

I've been concussed on camera twice. I've been knocked so silly that the heels in the match break character and start asking if I'm okay. And I'm one of the lucky ones. I've never been seriously injured, and there are plenty of times where I could have or should have been. The names "Steve Austin", "Droz", and even "Owen Hart" are always audible in the back of your psyche, even when it's something as simple as a fireman's carry. Things can go wrong. The human body is unbelievably fragile when falling. Like that one time in training where a guy didn't cradle the back of my neck during a scoop slam, and I just managed to get an elbow down before I was dropped on my head. My trainer said I shouldn't do that, but I'd rather a move look like shit than have that be my last move.

That top turnbuckle seems a lot higher than it was last time I was there. The pads are really slippery, or maybe my shoes are just getting old. I'm twelve feet in the air, and I can't really get down now. The crowd is anticipating a jump. I'm tall and awkward, what the hell am I doing here? Oh well, nothing left to do now but jump and hope for the best.

...

Sometimes I get worked. Sometimes when I see a bad move, I react a bit differently than most do. There's a kinship with anyone who has ever been in that situation that hits close to home. Everyone knows the dangers of professional wrestling when they step in the ring, but the threat of serious injury never goes away, no matter how good you are.

Injury angles are set up really well, sometimes to the point when you don't know if they're a work or not. That dreaded "X" signal always brings upon that sinking feeling of fear. When someone else in the business truly does get hurt, or at least appears to, in a small way, you feel it yourself.

Seeing Dolph Ziggler crashing headfirst into the announce table made me forget that I was supposed to be reviewing a show. Knowing that Wade Barrett may miss WrestleMania because of that same angle makes me feel even worse than I didn't realize it at the time.

Jesse Sorenson's tragic accident, Misawa dying in the ring, Owen Hart crashing to his death... These are all things I've thought about while just thinking about getting in the ring again. Everyone knows the risks when they participate in this profession, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with when it does.

It's an unwritten fear, and it's something that the trainer won't tell you. You most likely will get hurt; you can only just hope that it won't change the rest of your life for the worse. It's hard enough dealing with the effects of slamming your body into a mat a few thousand times without getting injured. There won't be one day of my life where I won't have back or neck pain, and I'm one of the ones who has it pretty easy. Anyone who talks down to those who develop painkiller addictions has clearly never understood this. I've been fortunate enough to resist it, but trust me, I get it.

Sometimes you can't wait for a chance to get back in the ring. But other times, your mind tells you that it really isn't worth the risk. Keep that in mind when someone doesn't do the amount of high spots you'd like them to. Nothing ever makes that easier, and anything can go wrong at any time.

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