Friday July 8th, 2016
Normally I write for wrestling promotions and keep a low profile. At times my name is credited on show recaps or interviews but normally I try to stay in the background. However for this article I have to discuss how and why I became a wrestling fan years ago and how Bob Evans in 3 hours restored my faith in this business.
Growing up in Baltimore in the late 1970’s I started going to wrestling matches and my heroes were Bruno Sammartino, Ken Patera, Bob Backlund, Larry Zbyszko and Magnificent Muraco. Liked the good guys and the bad guys and it was a different era. We cared who won or lost and were not thinking that 2 guys in the ring would just “tear it up” and do all kinds of crazy moves.
In many ways this is how the business of wrestling has evolved into. At age 47 I recognize it is a new era and fans are not used to what I grew up with. However some of the basic fundamentals do remain the same.
As a part of the F.I.G.H.T. Pro Wrestling team I had the privilegeof being able to observe Ring Of Honor trainer “Brutal” Bob Evans do an advanced training seminar for wrestlers in the region who paid only $30 dollars for 3 hours of wisdom and advice. Not just about what to do in the ring but how to make their hobby profitable and even some financial advice.
Bob entered the Boonsboro Event Center and as most of the boys in any wrestling locker room do made sure to introduce himself and shake hands with everyone there including myself. It’s a custom I have observed over the 4 years I have been involved on the indy wrestling circuit.
This seminar was not for kids just trying to break into the business. It was an advanced seminar to help those already working weekends and established to further their careers, get better in the ring and learn how to make a profit following their dreams.
Brutal Bob entered the ring and was surrounded on all sides by many wrestlers I have seen compete over the years who I have great respect for. Yet there they were, willing to listen and try to get better. I will leave names out but I will say you would be surprised at those who are already very good attended wanting to up their games even more.
Bob began by saying “Everything you have probably heard about me – good or bad is probably true. A very good ice breaker that lightened the mood.
There were shirts worn by Bob and his staff that read “Hanging with Bob Winter/Spring North American Tour” with 12 cities listed on the back of the shirt. Bob discussed his background being a descendant of the Killer Kowalski wrestling school that many notable stars including Triple H came from.
Bob said that he has been in the business for 17 years and now at age 37 grades himself a B+ as a wrestler (underrating himself) and an A+ as a coach (agreed).
He then went around and addressed everyone at ringside and asked how long they had been working in the business. Experience varied but no one was completely green. Bob then asked for 2 people to get in the ring to work a few minutes preferably 2 who had never worked together before. Without naming names 2 wrestlers stepped in the ring. There was no script, they didn’t know each other and they ad libbed a few minutes of a match. That in itself was something as an old school fan that blew me away. Not everything needs to be scripted or worked out in detail in the ring. To see two talents go at it on the fly with Bob giving his advice of what was done right and making suggestions on what could have been improved was a huge highlight. These days most wrestling schools just take the money of kids who only watch WWE and they are taught to bump and work out. This was nothing like that. It was more of a master’s class for those who already know what they are doing but want to take that next step.
This went on for awhile and Bob said in the first half hour “After 27 minutes you are now being held to a higher standard. I’m not mad at any of you for anything I criticized no matter how many years you have under your belt. Because you didn’t know. Now you do!”
Bob also told a story about how Terry Taylor once mentioned who was the most explosive wrestler he had ever seen was. Surprisingly he didn’t mention Dr Death Steve Williams or Terry Gordy or anyone he had worked with in his career. Instead he mentioned 37 year old Samoa Joe who even at this point is still trying to learn. Excellent advice to those who already think they know it all.
“All you have to be is 15% different to look completely original. Remember that for the rest of your lives.” Wise words from Brutal Bob. As a fan you don’t have to reinvent the wheel as a performer for me to enjoy your work. Just set yourself apart from the rest.
It was an honor as a fan to be a third wheel and get to be a fly on the wall at a Bob Evans seminar. To all of my wrestling friends in the business who put their bodies on the line weekly in pursuit of their dreams I can highly recommend “Hanging out withBob” sometime.
F.I.G.H.T. Pro Wrestling