Pay your dues, listen and watch
"Hotshot" JOHNNY DEVINE - SLAM! Wrestling
I'm back again this week to continue with how to get started in pro wrestling, and I'll take a look at some of the differences I've noticed between Canadians and Americans living in Nashville. I hope you all enjoyed the first column. Here we go.
Alright, last week I told you the first two things you need to do to get started; now we'll cover once you're started, and how to keep rolling and be successful.
You've gotten trained and hit the gym and have started working shows. If it's in your first two years in the business, you'd better be putting up and tearing down the ring. I don't care how big or talented you are, or think you are, if you want the respect of the other guys, you better put in your time doing the crappy jobs. The wrestling business is all about respect. Respect for the past, the boys and the business and, if you don't work to earn the respect of your peers, you'll never succeed.
That's not to say there aren't exceptions, but this is for the general consensus. The guys who leave early and get in late -- the ring crew -- deserve a lot more credit than they get because it sucks. Period. I did it for two and a half years, for almost 500 shows, and it gave me a healthy respect for the other stuff that is required to put on wrestling shows. Always volunteer to help even if you're not on the crew, just a little -- that stuff gets noticed.
Now you're working getting experience in front of crowds (no matter how big or small) and (probably not) making a little money. You're in the locker room and are thinking 'hmm, my match is over, now what?' Watch the other matches. You can learn from the other guys on the card, what works and what doesn't. See how the crowd reacts to each move, gesture or phrase and see what you can do to come up with your own stuff. If you need ideas, ask some of the other guys on the card or one of the veterans. Always be working towards getting better. Stars like The Rock, Austin, Flair, Hunter, etc., are always coming up with new stuff to remain fresh. The guys who don't, become stagnant and fade away. And keep your eyes open for things around you that you can use. Phrases, gimmicks, or moves can be found almost anywhere. The most common of which are movies and TV. But don't limit yourself to those. There's always something to learn from obscure places. I know a guy with a great metal music inspired gimmick that is worth money. My Team Canada partner "Showtime" Eric Young was just telling me about an idea he has for a gimmick that if TNA lets him run with it will make mad money and be over like Grover. And Jimmy Hart gave me a great idea for an addition to my own gimmick that if given a chance will be both humorous and profitable.
So now you are getting comfortable with your character and getting wrestling experience but it's not enough. What next? Contacts. This business is all about who you know, not what you know. It sucks, but it's the truth. The guys who have been places and wrestled names are the ones who have the numbers and friends you need. If you want to get booked somewhere, meet someone who's there. Earn their respect and after awhile, ask for some help. Be it passing a tape (more on tapes later) or getting a phone number or email addy. And if someone gets you in somewhere, be on your best behavior, because it's not only you that you are representing in that situation. (From experience, trust me.) 'Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir,' is the phrase you need to remember. Until you've made your name, you are always replaceable and expendable. Work hard and you'll earn your spot and be brought back regularly. It's all kind of common sense but unfortunately common sense is anything but common.
That's enough of that for this week; on to some observances and plugs. I am currently watching the Super Bowl with Cassidy Riley (www.cassidyriley.com), Showtime and Bob Ryder, and some things are readily apparent to both Show and I. Americans as a whole are so ridiculously supportive of sports that it makes me cry for Canadian sports. They get more people to high school football and basketball games than Canada gets for CFL or NHL games. I don't understand why Canadians aren't more supportive. You would think that we would all be glad to see Canadian athletes succeeding and want to see more but we lose team after team due to lack of attendance. God, I miss the Winnipeg Jets! But on the Canadian upside, healthcare REALLY kicks ass!! My bills after the September stabbing topped $21,000 US. Thank god for travel insurance! I can't even imagine what Sabu's (get well soon) bills are, since he spent 10 times longer in hospital than I did. By the way if you want to see an amazing DVD check out the Sabu benefit DVD. Really a great show for a great guy.
Well, enough for today, my new website www.johnnydevine.net should be up now but if it's not, you can still get to the old one at www.geocities.com/hotshotdevine. Feel free to email me thoughts, questions or concerns at email@example.com.
And make sure you check out TNA's next big PPV on Sunday, February 13, Against All Odds. TNA heavyweight champ Jeff Jarrett takes on Kevin Nash, AMW puts the tag straps on the line against Kid Kash and Lance Hoyt, AJ Styles takes on Christopher Daniels in a 30-minute Iron Man match for the X division title (I'm really looking forward to this one). These are just some of the matches, you can find the rest at www.tnawrestling.com. Stay Hot everyone and see you next week.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Hotshot" Johnny Devine's column will run on Saturdays on SLAM! Wrestling. Be sure to visit each week!
For more on Devine's career, see his biography in our Canadian Hall of Fame.