Craig Shoemaker


Wrestling with the Truth


When I was young, I recall being upset that pro-wrestling didn't get its due respect. I always wondered why they didn't list matches & results in the sports page, and figured it was because of elitist snobs with the print media. I had fights with people who said it was fake. "How can something right in front of you not be real? I'd like to see you be slammed like that and see if you can get up! Do you know how many would have to be in on the hoax? It would be impossible to cover up."

When the wrestlers yelled in front of the cameras the threats and insults at one another, it proved to be so genuine. Why would two adults display such rage if it weren’t authentic? The pre-show displays influenced my friends and I in choosing our favorite grapplers, all based on the words and image we saw projected on the screen. Often our favored icon ended up winning too. We stuck with our guy no matter what, usually the most "American," with the clear enemy being the dude dressed as an Arab Sheik or a big hairy Persian. Bad guys were well defined in this world. The darker they were, the more pleasure the crowds expressed when they fell. When the evil guy was toppled, it emboldened our spirits.

If anyone challenged the integrity of pro-wrestling, there was always its popularity to prove him or her wrong. Most importantly, packed stadiums and big ratings made me feel validated of my choices and strengthened my arguments. The TV gave me stats to fire back at the doubters too. They told me so. I had no reason not to believe them.

I went to a huge steel cage event to see for myself. This was no trickery. There they were, right in front of me. Wow! Thousands of other rabid fans with signs demonstrated unfettered support for their hand picked hero. They gave us a show to remember too. Props Carrot Top would envy. A set out of Lord Of The Rings. Andre The Giant, THE MAN of his era and here was living proof! Like the wrestlers and costumed promoters, I yelled insults at anyone who dared to take issue with my beliefs. Idiots. Snobby fools. Heads in the sand. Sheeple.

Then...I woke up. With adulthood and awareness came better reasoning and soulful vetting process. I began to see things for what they were, not the images glimmering before me. I began to think for myself and not be ruled by garish flash. Critical thinking replaced common following. Challenging the authorities I empowered became more important than mindlessly accepting what they told me. I thought, "If they are so good and right, why have all the blaze and loud rhetoric? And how come there are different rules that seem to change constantly? Why are they ignoring the referees? Isn't it illegal in a sporting event to bring in props and weapons?" Real high school and collegiate wrestlers prove their mettle through hard work and subsequent results, and don't rely on pyrotechnics to win or gain favor.

My emotional, visceral, common reactions became more thoughtful, logical and balanced. Instead of having the knee-jerk response to those who questioned my chosen champs, a reasonable and intelligent self began to emerge. It turns out it was ME who was the fool, the idiot, the sheep. My head was in the sand, even though I once accused the others of the exact character defects I possessed. My need to be right moved into a space of a need to be inspired.

The self-transformation bled over to all of inner and outer relationships. Love life changed and friendships either grew, were redesigned or toxic ones abandoned. Emotional health and well-being took precedence over joining the haters of those who labeled the searchers in derogatory ways. Being happy ruled over the power hungry who wish to rule our souls. Contrary to reacting to opposing views with venomous responses, great pause was taken to reflect upon what is real, not what someone in need of my following needs me to think.

Any of this sounds familiar? See any societal parallels to what we see taking place in our communities, especially with the hate spewed on Facebook? Yes, our political/media/corporate structure has taken over our way of life, much like when we put faith in the structure of WWE.

As we argue over the talking points the media hands us with great divisive purpose, it is not too different than arguing that Hulk Hogan is the true champ or that the Vince McMahon organizations are the only valid ones. In regards to being right, a similar name calling system is currently in pace for those who oppose the righteous views.

Who profits from the attention paid to this silly infighting for who's right? Assuredly not the fans. The masses scrape their last monies together to give to this phony system. Like the ads that support all mass media - they spin, lie and present propaganda then we buy it. The rhetoric has them indoctrinating into your mind who your enemy is, while convincing you of their power to fight it. If you are "informed" about a leader who is on the villain list, just remember it is not indeed fact, much as Abdullah The Butcher isn't really the bad man they want you to believe he is. Off the stage, he has the same dreams, feelings and desires we all have, but he had to take the bad guy route, since his looks would never be accepted as bonafide USA grade. When you contemplate the current dialogue about immigration, I suggest following your heart, not the meaningless political spin from someone whose been bought and paid for. Just like WWE decides who wins, so do our elected officials. There is no level playing field in either case. I hope we can all examine this and initiate positive change.

We fight amongst one another and the corporate structure benefits from the conflict. They have the weapons, unhealthy foods and mind-altering drugs to keep us comfortably numb and addicted. They possess the power and own our voice. If we oppose, they convince the ground troops, saps like us, to fight between ourselves, calling names like "conspiracy theorist whack job" if someone brings up thoughts outside the common narrative. We are quick to reject, but not to reflect.

Any of what I describe about pro wrestling can be directly compared to our socio political climate right now, only the stakes are a lot higher than believing that Cyndy Lauper is a wrestling manager.

I suggest and propose we all begin to pause when confronted with an alleged enemy or situation that appears to be overwhelming. Check within for answers and see where fear is being used to sway your critical thinking. It is an old trick, so be brave enough to dispute it. If their goal is to keep us unconscious, and believe only the powerful have our answers, then let's be more conscious and answer to the greater power source inside of us, the one that guides with great heart, empathy and compassion.

Really, truly and deeply examine what is in it for your own happiness and what is lining the pockets of the already beyond reason wealthy. As we fight about minimum wage, they enjoy unreasonable and unethical profits. Hell, I think we should introduce the idea of having a MAXIMUM wage! And not keep bickering over poor people merely trying to get by, as if welfare fraud even comes close to corporate fraud as far as damage.

Look closer at why we are distracted by assigning blame to the ones who want to eat, rather than the criminals in suits & ties we will never see on the news being taken to jail. See our fellows, as they want to be seen, not for the images that fill our screens. View with heart, not eyes. Just like the wrestler's plight outside the ring, if we keep fighting amongst one another, we will end up broke, bloodied and sad. And the ones, who put on the charade parade, live in unprecedented opulence.

The next time you feel compelled to post divisive, nasty comments about information you were handed, contemplate how similar it is the pro wrestling template. You can ether live in denial or solution, but the unfortunate difference is one is entertaining and one has serious consequences.

All that being said, no matter how fake or illusionary, no one had a better shtick or name than "Haystacks Calhoun." The dude was the real deal! 




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