Imagine Falling

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Imagine falling from the roof  of a small building and landing on your elbow and your hip, on top of what is essentially a pile of plywood.

I can’t.

Imagine the accompanying feeling of knocking the wind out of your system (and doing that at least once a week), and the  horrifying terror of not knowing if you’ve actually punctured a lung or did some other sort of damage.

I can just picture myself as I would wince in probably the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life, and look down at my disfigured, swollen, badly bruised limbs. I can say that no amount of money–nor the spectacle of thousands looking on–would ever make that satisfying enough to try.

Then again, I’m not a wrestler, and I never want to be.

I’m sure it sounds so very cliche, but I have so much respect for the men and women whose careers we all follow every day. I guess that’s because I’m very aware of my own physical, mental, and emotional limitations. Let’s face it … I’m 32 years old (for at least a few more weeks). I’ve been absolutely enamored with the very art of wrestling for 22 years of that time. That means I started obsessing when I was only 11.  I talk about wrestling, I write about wrestling , and I think about wrestling, constantly.

Still, I know I will always be best served watching from ringside (I have a bruised knee from hopping on the apron last year to prove it).

What I never realized was that meeting a hobbled, 53-year-old Matt “Doink” Borne at one of his recent Fazoo Crew shows in Freehold, NJ would drill that fact home for me. The show included a very nice blend of hungry, young wrestlers (crazy as they are)–training through Borne’s new wrestling school–and veterans such as ECW’s Danny Doring, and Danny Inferno and Judas Young. Say what you will about Borne’s collection of Fazoo Crew talent, however. It was actually the all-too-physical actions of the group’s founder that left me feeling terrible about the punishment that these men and women regularly put their bodies through.

Borne–who limped over to me and shook my hand with such an excited sincerity–assured me “the old man is starting to slow down. I won’t be wrestling tonight. I’m just trying to help some of these younger guys live THEIR dream by running these shows.”

And while the former “Maniac” did, technically stay true to his word, the glimmer in his eye told me a slightly gimp leg or a small headache would, in no way, be holding him back from that night. Toward the end of the show, Borne brought the 100 people in attendance to their feet when he climbed about 3/4 of the way up a giant 15-foot industrial ladder, set up inside the ring, and leaped with a huge flying elbow onto a prone Doink impersonator. While it’s hard to deny how exciting the move was, it was ALSO an awful reminder of the abuse that these wrestlers–our childhood heroes–put themselves through each and every day they step in the ring. As Borne winced as he walked toward the corner and picked up the microphone, I could do nothing but pray he just thanked the fans and hobbled away.

“If this guy ever shows up at one of my shows again,” said the former Doink so matter-of-factly, “I will climb to the TOP next time, and drop an elbow from up there.”

The gleam in his eye told me he had already made plans to make the leap if just a few more fans come out to see it. Perhaps even if they don’t.

I could never envision a scenario in which I would punish my body that way. Again, imagine falling from a roof  and landing on what is basically a glorified pile of plywood. I can’t.

Then again, I’m not a wrestler.

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