WWE is a brand known the world over, not just in the pro wrestling universe but the entire entertainment industry. The company is constantly expanding, most recently bringing the live Monday Night Raw to China. It’s a larger than life form of live television where impossibly talented athletes with unreal physiques are featured in melodramatic quarrels, sometimes based subtly in science fiction, and choose to settle their differences in scripted, choreographed battles inside a four-sided ring for the ultimate prize of one day claiming ownership of a golden-plated belt.
Naturally, the spotlight is always being shone on this controversial niche product. The business of professional wrestling has long been plagued by rumors of steroid abuse and accusations of encouraging violence among children, but has persevered through it all and the crown jewel of the industry, World Wrestling Entertainment, has thrived year after year. But with all eyes on WWE and after so many documentaries and interviews claiming to expose the secrets of the business, how are there still so many stones left unturned?
Somehow, there are. Secrets aren’t well kept in today’s wrestling world as fans have become more and more “in the know” thanks to the wonders of the internet, but though some fans may think they’re aware of everything that could possibly be “exposed” about wrestling at this late stage, there’s always something more. Often, that something more would not just intrigue the WWE Universe, but also benefit the actual WWE Superstars.
No celebrities in the world interact with their fans on the level of a WWE Superstar, and there are plenty of secrets still hidden in pro wrestling of which those wrestlers want their fans to be aware. Here are 15 things that remain hidden in WWE which its Superstars would love for everyone to know.
15. Airport Sightings Are Not Autograph Signings
Professional wrestlers travel a lot, especially WWE Superstars. It should come as no surprise, then, that they spend a lot of time in airports. With all that time spent preparing for boarding, leaving after a landing, and the inevitable flight delays, that time quickly adds up. It’s become obvious over the years through hundreds of fan made cell phone videos that this is one of the most common ways to run into your favorite wrestlers, and therefore one of the most common places wrestlers are bombarded for photos and autographs.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the last places a busy WWE Superstar wants to be bothered with such things. The internet is littered with tales of awkward fan encounters where obviously exhausted wrestlers were approached by fans and either lashed out of them or just flat-out ignored them. It seems clear that WWE Superstars would love to get across the message to all their fans that the airport is simply off-limits.
14. They Are Always Exhausted
One of the prime reasons WWE Superstars don’t want to be bothered at airports is that they’re always knackered. We watch these incredible athletes on television every week and they’re just these amazing machines with so much endurance. No athlete in the world can go as hard for such a long time as can many WWE Superstars.
With the great shape that a wrestler in WWE needs to be in today, sometimes it’s difficult to remember that they’re actually quite human. It’s not as if the energy they exude is of an always-on variety; Randy Orton isn’t actually RKO’ing people on the streets or punting animals in his yard (though internet memes would beg to differ). WWE Superstars put so much into their matches to make them the best they can be, but they compete so hard and so frequently that much of the rest of their time they are completely burned to the wick.
It’s important for fans to remember that wrestling is a taxing “sport” and does not come together easily without much strenuous effort.
13. Staying In Hotels Is Not Easy
With all the travel involved in the day-to-day life of a WWE Superstar, hotels are as common as meals. With a corporation as large as World Wrestling Entertainment, you’d think hotels were booked and paid for ahead of time by the company itself, but that’s not the case. WWE apparently only pays for flights and the rest is up to the individual, so it’s not easy for an already busy performer to know where they’re going to be sleeping on any given night, let alone what sort of deal they’re going to be getting on a hotel.
The wrestling world is full of bad hotel experiences, from mice in the room to human feces in the bed. There’s a common misconception that because WWE stars are so well-known around the world that they’re living a glamorous lifestyle and don’t need to worry about the mundane tribulations of travel, and professional wrestlers would certainly want their fans to respect what they deal with in order to do what they love.
12. They Hate Being Interrupted While Eating
Picture for a moment a scene where you’ve just gotten off a long flight with several layovers and you’re completely spent. You’ve got limited time to find a hotel and get to work, but you’re starving and need to find a meal. You find a place to eat, get your order and sit down, but just as you’re putting the first bite in your mouth, a woman and her child come up to you for an autograph. Then another, and another, and soon you’re struggling to get any eating in at all.
One of the worst possible instances to interrupt anyone, especially busy, beaten and fatigued professional wrestlers, is during a meal. If WWE Superstars could have their fans put themselves in the shoes of their favorite wrestlers and know how it feels to have your meal time consistently disrespected, it would likely be a top priority. Everyone deserves to eat in peace.
11. Schedules Are More Hectic Than People Realize
As fans, we see WWE Superstars on TV each Monday and Thursday night and then we go about our week with wrestling on the backburner. Most fans probably assume these athletes go home after filming television and rest up until next Monday, but that is far from the reality of what it means to work for WWE.
It’s important to understand WWE Superstars are almost constantly on the road and wrestle nearly every night of the week. When they’re not filming Raw and SmackDown, they’re usually wrestling non-televised events all over the world. Superstars must feel terribly underappreciated when a fan assumes they’re getting to meet them on Monday after an entire weekend off from work, when in fact, that wrestler has not had a break at all.
Wrestling one night per week is a lot of work, let alone five or six nights. WWE Superstars deserve to be commended for all the work they consistently put in year-round to be able to entertain their fans.
10. Wrestling Careers Don’t Begin In WWE
Another misconception that is far too common among fans of professional wrestling, is that when someone has their first match in WWE, it’s actually their first match, period. For reasons that are somewhat understandable due to the lack of mainstream access to any non-WWE wrestling, most casual fans (and some of the not-so-casual ones) seem to believe that you’re not a wrestler until you’re competing for WWE.
But that notion is wildly disrespectful to people like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, who both saw huge success wrestling around the world for independent wrestling organizations for many, many years before coming to WWE to finish out their in-ring careers. In fact, most wrestlers follow this path, especially in today’s climate where Triple H is hand-picking new talent from the independent scene to join the development team in NXT. WWE Superstars and wrestlers around the globe surely would love for all fans to understand and fully appreciate the years of grueling work they’ve put in just to make an impression on WWE for the chance to make their WrestleMania dreams come true.
9. Promos Are Scripted
If you’ve recently watch WWE’s crowned prince Roman Reigns attempt to deliver a promo on Monday Night Raw, you’ve surely experienced the cringe-worthy awkwardness that has wrestling fans everywhere calling for the three-time WWE Champion to stay far, far away from the microphone. As much as the IWC loves to talk trash about Reigns’ wrestling ability, the consensus seems to be that his spoken word is the former Shield member’s biggest shortcoming.
But Roman Reigns is just a victim of a system that has become notorious for plaguing the quality of wrestling promos for years now – the scripted promo.
Wrestling legends like Steve Austin have long lauded the benefits of allowing a wrestler to be him or herself when on the microphone because when promos are scripted, wrestlers almost exclusively sound like a monotone robot reading a grocery list. These men and women don’t know where to take the words emotionally because the words aren’t their own, and if the words don’t belong to them they don’t feel them.
WWE Superstars like Roman Reigns would surely love for the fans to know that this is not an innate lack of charisma – it’s simply a broken system that WWE refuses to fix.
8. Wrestling Is Completely Fictional
For a few hours each week we watch wrestling as fans and get lost in the excitement. The characters are colorful and the storylines are melodramatic magic. The combat is fantastical and over-the-top, but when our favorite combatant lands a humanly impossible finishing move on another we flip out as if our favorite team just won the Super Bowl.
In the words of Willy Wonka, WWE is a world full of pure imagination, and because we become twelve-year-old versions of ourselves when we allow ourselves to get lost in it, many members of the WWE Universe have a difficult time separating fiction from reality.
The era of wrestlers keeping kayfabe (a term for the notion that pro wrestling is completely legitimate) is long behind us and one of the most awkward encounters a fan can have with his or her favorite WWE Superstar is when the fan speaks to them as if they’re actually the character the fan saw on television last night.
Wrestlers can portray the incarnation of pure evil on the screen, and WWE Superstars would surely want wrestling fans to know that the situation is no different from any other actor or actress who ever played a character on a TV show.
7. Announcers Have A Very Difficult Job
It’s easy to criticize Michael Cole’s play-by-play commentary, as evidenced by the droves of fans that have done so throughout his entire broadcasting career. We’ve all dreamt at one time or another about who we would replace Cole or any other ringside commentator with, but sometimes it’s necessary to stop and really consider the fact that Michael Cole might just have one of the hardest jobs in all of WWE.
The misconception that Cole and anyone else who sits at the commentary table are getting paid buckets of money to sit ringside, watch wrestling and call out what they see, probably picked up most of its steam with Jim Ross who was so masterful at the art of commentary that he made it look easy. But there are many things fans don’t know, like the fact that Vince McMahon is pretty much constantly barking orders at all the announcers through their headsets for the duration of every show.
Imagine carrying on a high-quality broadcasting conversation on live television with Vince McMahon screaming in your ear. Now, add to that the list of terms WWE announcers aren’t allowed to use and the topics they’re not supposed to reference due to sponsors, not to mention the specific ways in which they’re supposed to sell the Superstars currently on television to the audience at home.
All this and more should help any fan appreciate just how hard the commentary teams work in WWE.
6. Wrestling Actually Hurts
Admit it: it’s happened to you. It’s happened to everyone who ever declared him or herself a fan of the spectacle known as professional wrestling. We’ve all met at least one person who, once discovering we were a fan, dropped this bombshell on us: “You know that stuff’s fake, right?”
Forget those people. Throw them in the back of your mind because they’ll never understand, no matter how many times you show them Sid Vicious snapping his leg in half or Mankind flying off the top of Hell in a Cell. What’s important is that we, as the actual consumers of the pro wrestling product, fully understand the nature of the “sport.”
Most (though not all) fans understand the predetermined nature of the wrestling match. Unfortunately, many still fail to grasp that, just because the outcome of the match has been staged and these competitors are playing characters, almost everything they do still hurts. A lot.
Lots of casual viewers still think the ring is padded like a mattress when it’s really just planks of wood covered by a piece of barely-there foam. Each and every slam puts a wrestler at risk for breaking his or her neck. Add to that the fact that many punches are legitimately stiff and weapon shots are almost always unfeigned and you start to realize the fighting’s almost as real as it is in any other combat sport, with the exception that it’s all choreographed.
5. Wrestling Training is Crazy Intense
The history of professional wrestling has been plagued for the duration of its existence with a myriad of misconceptions, something which will probably continue for the rest of time. But maybe the greatest misconception of all is that wrestling is easy.
Casual fans, especially those new to the wrestling universe, often seem to think wrestlers are just “play fighting.” They believe these competitors hit the ring and just act foolishly from bell to bell so they can collect a paycheck. But if you’ve ever watched an episode of Tough Enough you understand the grueling training an athlete must endure to become a WWE Superstar.
No doubt, the content on Tough Enough is embellished for television, but that’s more about the drama between contestants and the wacky settings in which training takes place. What fans really should be watching is Breaking Ground on the WWE Network (for just $9.99). Breaking Ground has its feet more grounded in reality than just about any reality show on TV, and has a major focus on the physical aspect of training to become a WWE Superstar with less emphasis on petty squabbles.
What WWE Superstars do in the ring is too often taken for granted and they deserve to be commended for being some of the hardest-working entertainers in the world.
4. WWE Superstars Frequently Hold Back Their Athleticism
WWE’s wrestling product is a delicate one. Sometimes the matches get our adrenaline going, usually those for a pay-per-view event or a special occasion on Monday Night Raw. Then there are those matches filled with headlocks and which follow a slow, deliberate pace. The stark contrast leaves us wondering what the company could be thinking trying to win is over with these much less eventful throw downs.
What gets lost in translation is that many times, WWE likes to rein in its athletes throughout the year so that when the bigger shows come along, it’s easier to “wow” the crowd. It’s the type of subtle attention to detail that has made WrestleMania the night when fans around the globe come together to witness the biggest spectacle in the genre.
This often results in WWE Superstars not wrestling to their fullest potential on a weekly basis, which becomes more obvious when you’ve followed the independent years of Kevin Owens’ career and notice a distinct absence from his WWE matches of the athleticism you know he’s capable of. But it’s obviously a formula that’s working for WWE and it has the added benefit of keeping wrestlers healthy for longer as they’re not running at full speed on a nightly basis.
3. Wrestlers Don’t Pre-Plan Every Move In A Match
Athleticism isn’t the only aspect of putting together a five-star wrestling match. There’s a delicate art so highly valued that WWE employs what they call “agents” whose role is to help the wrestlers in each match choreograph a fight to find the perfect timing and psychology which will get the most rise out of the fans.
While some members of the WWE Universe might be aware of this, what they may not know is that not every move is planned ahead of time. Matches are put together in a sort of bullet point format so that all competitors in a match are aware of the necessary spots, but then the filler is added as the match progresses. The next time you watch a John Cena match, listen closely as Cena is one of the most notorious wrestlers in the world for loudly calling out spots move-by-move.
While John Cena lacks subtlety, there’s certainly a level of awareness and intuition that has to be respected in being able to react to an audience and call a match on the fly.
2. A Referee’s Job Carries Hidden Responsibilities
As it stands WWE referees already have more responsibilities than most casual fans know about. They make the three-count for a pinfall, sure, and make the ten-count when a wrestler is outside the ring. They also make a disqualification count when a wrestler is being attacked in the ropes and must keep an eye on shenanigans at ringside. What even the most discerning of fans may not know, however, is that referees often help WWE Superstars in putting together a match.
You may have noticed that WWE officials wear an earpiece at all times while calling bouts. This is so that they can receive instructions from backstage which then need to be relayed to the actual wrestlers. WWE has always been very detailed in how they present their product, and the referee is just one of several safety nets the company uses in order to ensure the wrestlers in the match provide for them the television they want to produce.
1. Failed Drug Tests Are Not Black And White
When WWE refers to itself as a global operation, it’s not just lip service. The company is a worldwide phenomenon and a billion-dollar organization which, especially during the more family-friendly eras such as we have today, relies heavily on sponsorships. So it’s understandable if they want to not only watch after the health of their athletes, but also take out a bit of insurance so as to not lose those corporate dollars.
WWE has had a wellness policy for a long time now. It comes along with a three-strike rule which sees increasingly severe suspensions and ultimately leading to the termination of a contract. Their policy is one of zero tolerance and quite often could result in a suspension that may make a WWE Superstar appear to have committed a much worse offense than he or she actually had.
The topic is on a lot of minds recently due to the suspension of Roman Reigns, who was on top of the world at the time with the whole of WWE behind him. Wrestlers are instantly shamed among the greater portion of the WWE Universe once violating the wellness policy, but we can be certain that WWE Superstars would want everyone to know that these violations can come via accident, by the well-meaning consumption of a drug they weren’t aware was on the extensive list of banned substances.
Always remember, however, that even if a failed drug test was the result of intentional substance abuse, shame is a cruel human reaction at such a time when an individual needs all the support he or she can get.