A lot more goes into wrestling than the 3-12 minutes most people see on a show. There’s the obvious–dieting and gym time, traveling, etc. Training is the other big one. A lot of people put a lot of time into training. Training is all about conditioning, trying new things, reinforcing old things, and sometimes just messing around to see what sticks. It rarely comes up on actual shows, but one of my favorite things at training is freeform chaining–just going from hold to hold. I don’t get the opportunity to do it much in front of an audience because it doesn’t fit what’s going on in the match, or there simply isn’t time, but I have a blast when I do get the chance to do it.
Recently, I got the opportunity to flex those muscles a little bit and to play around in a different creative way than I usually would. The match happened on September 9th at SOS Pro Wrestling and was as follows: The Academy (Thom Alman and myself) vs. Carl Randers and ETHAN HD. We were the opening match, and it was a blast. Despite the result (The Academy lost), I’m pretty proud of the little piece of art we created. Allow me, if you will, to take you on a brief journey through the match and why it was an excellent first part of what would become a very satisfactory weekend of wrestling for me individually and The Academy as a whole.
Since returning to wrestling training around the midpoint of last year and then to live in-person wrestling shows in February of this year, I’ve found it difficult to regain the confidence that I once had around 2019. I didn’t have as many tools in my back pocket as I used to, plus watching others around me take to it naturally again was more than a little disheartening. I attended seminars that, quite frankly, only reinforced my feelings that I had lost a step in the ring. My anxiety had me dreading shows, feeling like I wasn’t delivering to the best of my ability–like I couldn’t hang with my peers.
Training, on the other hand, started feeling more natural again. I dug into my toolkit, remembering bits and pieces I hadn’t used since pre-covid. But it never felt like those tools transferred to my live performances, at least not in my head. My greatest fear was holding someone else back–to be the weakest link–so I worked hard, trying to keep up with Thom, who has hit his stride as a very talented, athletic, and mobile big man. I’ve been thankful throughout this year to have Thom by my side to support and challenge me. That’s who you want to surround yourself with: people who will build you up and inspire you to be the best version of yourself. I’m very fortunate that the Buddy Wayne Academy has an embarrassment of riches on that front.
Enter ETHAN HD.
I put his name in “all caps” because, if you know him, you know that’s how he prefers it. In August, I had the chance to wrestle him and an arguable wrestling legend, B-Boy, in a triple threat match at SOS. Going into that, I was nervous. “Would I be able to keep up?” In the end, it was a fun match, but imposter syndrome is a heck of a drug, and I still didn’t feel like I truly delivered (despite winning). This match led to the aforementioned tag-team bout since ETHAN was seeking revenge against The Academy.
In the moments after the tag match, I thought it went fine enough. I was happy but already inside my head about it–starting to think about what didn’t go exactly right. But that’s par for the course, and we moved on because The Academy had a “Devil’s Playground Trios Match” the next night at DOA Pro Wrestling in Portland. No time to dwell!
The trios match the following night was surprisingly fun, due in no small part to The Academy replacing all the weapons with chalkboards, yardsticks, pencils, and the like–everything for your back-to-school needs! But that wasn’t all that was different. Thom and I decided to take the opportunity to showcase Dr. Kliever’s influence on us by introducing Bully Academy, a special-edition variant of the Academy that includes denim vests and a less-playful attitude.
But that’s not all!
Before the show, we had the opportunity to participate in a seminar/”talent evaluation” from my old friend, Dr. Luther. For those who don’t know (heck, I had forgotten until I looked back at my match log), I was Luther’s first match back when he came out of retirement in 2016. The seminar went pretty well, and it was a nice confidence boost.
Finally, to bring everything full circle, many of our peers made a point to tell Thom and me that they enjoyed our match the previous night on SOS. While I won’t get into specifics, those kind words paired with the successful “Devil’s Playground” match and the successful seminar all boiled down to some much-appreciated validation and confidence boost for The Academy.
There’s not much else to say to wrap this one up, other than–if you haven’t already–please check out SOS Pro Wrestling and DOA Pro Wrestling. It would be silly of me to write this whole blog about the SOS tag match and not link it, so get your eyeballs on it too! Unfortunately, the Devil’s Playground match from DOA isn’t available yet, but I’m sure it will be soon!
THE WORLD IS YOUR BURRITO!
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