A lesson from my brief history in professional wrestling.
A LESSON FROM MY BRIEF HISTORY IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING i. When I was in The Show, I was one of the mostly Good Guys who, like good guys everywhere, was bound sometimes to go off-script, flying off the top rope and coming down a little too hard on some Bad Guy I'd just finished laying low. And then behind the referee's back, I'd rather theatrically make ready to unleash whatever extravagant move that a given night's drama called for while my opponent, suddenly contrite but no less fundamentally evil, would drag himself to his knees and plead for mercy, shaking his head full of exaggerated worry. And whenever something like that happens, I'm here to tell you: Do not hesitate. Don't leave yourself open to the cartoon sucker-punch. That's the moment it always dawns on someone in the crowd, some loudmouthed master-of-the-obvious who thinks maybe he's the first person ever to get to the bottom of over 100 years of this whole pro wrestling situation: It isn't real. Do tell, Mr. Ringside Einstein. If he writes up that kind of insight, he's bound to land a job in yet another university's Popular-- don't ever say Pop--Culture Studies program where they study the fun right out of everything that clearly should have been. ii. I'm betting you could use a few unlikely moves yourself in the world we actually live in. Wouldn't you love to know every once in a while at least, even before your day begins, exactly how it's going to turn out? With no one like a referee in sight, you could take down the disagreeable clerk at the DMV with The Flying Clothesline or The Inverted Atomic Drop. For the supercilious waiter, I'd recommend The Gator Buster or The Crossface Chickenwing. The Frankenstein Avalanche or The Sleeper will put the kibosh on that couple's nonstop talking at the movies. Save The Jumping Piledriver or The Hammer-Bomb for the We're-already-working-in-your-neighborhood salesman, and for the next Jehovah's Witness at the door, it's time for The Tree of Woe or else the bewildering Lady of the Lake. Yeah, they might end up nursing their small share of pain tonight, never quite knowing what hit them, but come tomorrow they'll be back at their familiar stations, none the worse for mortal wear. And if you wake up somehow believing that, from now on, things surely will be different, that everyone involved has learned at last some valuable lesson, then sadly-- aside from a handful of moves that sounded way too good to be true-- a century of pro wrestling really hasn't taught you much of anything.
David Clewell, former Missouri Poet Laureate, has published nine collections of poetry and two book-length poems. Although generally not a vengeful guy, he has been known to make exceptions. In a brief, ill-fated pro-wrestling career, his finishing move-unleashed from the top rope, of course-was The Flying Saucer Surprise, which no one ever saw coming.