Professional Wrestlers as Role Models and Why They Continue to Inspire Us – by Mike Sanchez

Smackdown Live debuted on FOX last night and will continue to do so on Friday nights for the foreseeable future. As with any big launch show, WWE pulled out all the stops by promising big matches and a bevy of familiar faces for the audience. One such face will be the Great One himself, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Now while it makes sense to have The Rock on the show alongside legends such as Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and others, it got me thinking; WWE likes to showcase their talent as inspirational figures and role models, but are – or rather should – they to be thought of as role models for people? I honestly believe that the current crop of WWE (and some non-WWE personnel) are an incredible group of people who could and should be looked upon as role models, be it for children or adults, they can inspire many.

Let’s start with The Rock. From following his Instagram, Twitter or hearing him speak in various interviews, it was always clear to see that he was a driven man who wanted to achieve more in life. Positioned as one of, if not the most, popular wrestlers in modern history, he didn’t rest on his laurels. He always wanted to be more and so left his multi-million dollar contracts with WWE in order to pursue a dream of being a Hollywood actor. The rest, as they say, is history and despite mixed reviews for his early film work, he has grown into one of the most bankable assets in Hollywood – recently topping a list of movie stars whose films have grossed the most money.

That’s not all though, as he often invites the camera behind the scenes to show how hard he works off-screen. Famed for bringing his own gym (the Iron Paradise) on set with him, Rock is dedicated to being the best he can be and is always in top physical condition. He has also extended his reach into other ventures; investing in producing movies (Seven Bucks Productions), creating his own tequila brand, being his own promotional vehicle – reportedly written into any contract he signs – and supporting business partners like Under Armour whenever he can.

The Rock’s dedication and commitment to his hard work lies in his famous ‘Seven Bucks’ story – at one point in his early 20s he had only that amount of cash to his name and knew he had to change his life. Rock is easily one of the most admired people in WWE history – even if it is for his work away from the company, but if you wanted inspiration from someone who has done so much in their lives and you aren’t afraid of putting in the hard work and effort, you couldn’t go far wrong from learning from Dwayne Johnson.

Perhaps you weren’t born into a famous wrestling family or don’t stand over six feet tall and were never seen as a main event star when you were starting out in WWE. Perhaps you saw what lay ahead and decided that you and only you, were going to have to work and grind harder than ever to make it impossible to ignore you. If you have that mind-set, or feel similarities to the situation, take inspiration from Becky Lynch.

Leaving her native Ireland at age 17, Rebecca Knox knew that she wanted to be a professional wrestler. She toured the independent circuit, traveled across the world honing her craft until one day she found herself at a revamped WWE Performance Centre, now branded as NXT. She found herself in a crop of talented young women who outgrew the smaller promotion and were summoned to the big stages of Raw and Smackdown Live. After a lull in her early main roster run, Lynch got her head down and pushed hard to force herself into WWE’s main event scene – culminating in winning the Women’s Royal Rumble this year, being part of THE Main Event at Wrestlemania and also being the first woman to hold both Women’s Titles (“Becky Two Belts”).

Becky Lynch is an inspiration for young girls everywhere. She didn’t get to the top by flaunting herself. She didn’t get to the top by being ‘in’ with someone. She got there by hard work, commitment and a never say die attitude. Becky Lynch broke barriers, and set higher bars for others to follow. Glass ceiling? What glass ceiling?

Those are two examples of people who worked damn hard to get to the top, but there are others who have achieved their dreams of being a wrestler and want to do more. Whether you think he is in the job due to talent or family, one cannot deny that Triple H has gone from strength to strength since cutting off his ponytail and donning a suit. His greatest legacy in WWE may not be his in-ring work, but his drive to create and build NXT. Not everyone has the opportunity to achieve more than one dream in their lives, but there are some inspirational wrestlers who see their in-ring career as just the first step in a long line of achievable goals:

Chris Jericho – New York Times Best-Selling author, singer, songwriter, podcaster. I’ve run out of superlatives for the man. He continues to be the epitome of moving on to the next thing and being successful at it.

Mick Foley – New York Times Best-Selling author, Christmas lover. Who doesn’t love Foley?

Kurt Angle – Olympic Gold Medallist. You may have heard about that before.

Mickie James – Singer and musician, has released two albums and was inducted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame in 2017.

Dolph Ziggler – Stand-up comedian. Not to be taken lightly, Dolph has grown in this field so much that he took time out of WWE to tour.

Glenn Jacobs / Kane – Mayor of Knox County. Surprisingly, even the Devil’s Favorite Demon has a place in politics – who would have thought?

Jesse Ventura – Former Governor of Minnesota.

Chris Nowinski – Author, co-founder and executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. A pioneer in the field of research into concussion injuries.

Brock Lesnar – Former UFC Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Went there. Conquered.

Vickie Guerrero – Obtained Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Healthcare administration at age 51. It just goes to show that age is never a barrier to success.

Diamond Dallas Page – Created own Yoga brand which has helped thousands of people across the world including fellow wrestlers Scott Hall and Jake Roberts. Dedicated to the cause and enriching people’s lives. I’ve purchased DDP Yoga, and it has really helped me. I would honestly recommend it to anyone.

There are so many others I could name with familiar stories.

However you find inspiration, be it from literature, your own life experiences or emulating successful people in life, it’s fair to say that WWE and other wrestling promotions (sorry, Jericho), are full of role models. People who see their goals and work hard to achieve them. None of the above had straight paths to their achievements. Some were broke. Some were considered too small and others were ridiculed. All achieved what they set out to do. Wrestling has come a long way since the tales of drunken debauchery and this generation not only know what they have, but also how hard they worked to get there and what they need to do to grow and move onto the next level of their lives. If you need inspiration, or even a little pick-me-up, professional wrestling is a good place to start.

Here’s Mickie James’ music video for her song ‘I Don’t Give A’. Enjoy.

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WWE SmackDown Live Preview 9/24/19

Tonight’s WWE SmackDown Live will take place from the Chase Center in San Francisco, California. This will be the last SmackDown Live on Tuesday night on USA Network before moving to FOX on Friday October 4th. Roman Reigns to clear the air with Daniel Bryan Kofi Kingston to discuss challenger Brock Lesnar in sit-down interview… Read More WWE SmackDown Live Preview 9/24/19

Unpopular Opinions About WWE Right Now – by Mike Sanchez

This week I accidentally dragged myself into a heated debate with my friends over the answer to a simple question about a particular food brand – namely which of the most popular brands I preferred. Apparently my answer was not popular and though some chose to question my decision, others jokingly thought I’d lost my marbles. I didn’t back down, and we eventually agreed that I had stumbled upon an unpopular opinion – something I staunchly believe to be true, but will leave myself wide open for criticism, or outright disbelief that I think such things.

Though some of the following opinions of mine are light-hearted and not judgments I’m willing to die on a hill for, it’s worth remembering the golden rule; opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. Just because I think something doesn’t mean you have to agree, but this is wrestling and it’s not supposed to be taken too seriously.

Baron Corbin was the right choice to win King of the Ring

I know, many of you will have stopped reading as soon as you saw that, but hear me out. I wrote a few weeks back that the whole point of the King of the Ring tournament was to elevate a mid to lower card wrestler. Established names or guys with titles need not apply. This is purely to give stars some much-needed exposure and hopefully propel a career that may have stalled. Someone who at one time showed much promise, but for one reason or another, hasn’t hit the dizzy heights expected of them and needs a push. Corbin ticks all of these boxes.

Look, I wanted Chad Gable to win this Monday on Raw, I really did. But WWE doesn’t always give us what they want and sometimes with good reason. Gable has been the plucky good guy since he arrived in WWE, always up against the odds, and the KOTR tournament gave him a shot at winning over the crowd – and to be fair, he was doing a good job. However, perhaps WWE’s plans for him are as a heel going forward, or as a frustrated good guy who thinks the world is against him and will fight and scrap for everything from here on out. Worked out ok for Becky Lynch, didn’t it?

Back to Corbin and I’ll be the first to admit he wasn’t my favorite guy in WWE. Then again, when I think about it, he’s been hampered with some awful gimmicks; the annoying authority figure on Raw, the whiny wrestler who inserted himself into feuds and generally whining about everything. In recent weeks he’s changed. He’s stopped bitching and become cockier. He’s winning matches rather than fluking them, he’s berating the crowd a lot during his matches and now he’s won a high-profile tournament.

Corbin is never bashed by his peers inside or outside of the business and seems to be well-respected. He took on those awful gimmicks and tried his best with poor material. I don’t think it was his fault he didn’t connect with the crowds, but perhaps all he needs is a fresh start, a new feud and an opportunity. Gable will likely get a feud with Corbin out of this, so hopefully putting Corbin over was the right call and can elevate both guys in the long run.

Seth Rollins Isn’t The Biggest Name in Wrestling

Is Seth Rollins talented? Hell yeah. Is he a top guy? Of course. Is he one of the most well-known stars on the roster? Yep. Is he the ‘biggest’ name in the company? Well, that depends on who you ask. Being the champion of a brand or show in wrestling proves two things; you’re the man/woman to beat, and the company has faith in you right now. Rollins is a very safe hand and a credible champion. He never phones it in and is a poster boy for hard work, determination and toughness. Do I think he should be champion? Yes, I do. He’s popular with the fans of all demographics and is the standard-bearer for Monday Night Raw. His recent engagement to Becky Lynch has only served to make him more likable and popular.

However, some questioned his #1 ranking in the recent PWI rankings, and though I don’t class myself as a wrestling scholar or at the same level as those who ranked over 500 pro wrestlers – I mean, where do you even begin with that list? – is he the biggest name in pro wrestling right now? Let’s do some searches on Google. If he’s the biggest name out there, surely he should be top of the search rankings, right?

  • Seth Rollins – 25.9 million results
  • Chris Jericho – 26.6 million results
  • Bayley – 26.7 million results
  • Becky Lynch – 30.3 million results
  • Roman Reigns – 40.5 million results
  • Sasha Banks – 198 million results
  • AJ Styles – 260 million results
  • Daniel Bryan – 310 million results

And to prove the internet is a fickle mistress and not all wrestlers are equal:

  • Gillberg – 1.08 million results
  • Braun Strowman – 4.8 million results
  • Kenny Omega – 9.75 million results
  • Baron Corbin – 9.9 million results
  • Kofi Kingston – 13.7 million results
  • Randy Orton – 18.5 million results
  • Hulk Hogan – 36.4 million results
  • John Cena – 228 million results

So does that prove that Rollins’ popularity doesn’t transcend outside of WWE? Perhaps, but if that was the case, AJ Styles would be mega-popular outside of wrestling and more people would know Roman Reigns than Hulk Hogan. Take it with a pinch of salt, but my opinion is that Rollins isn’t the biggest star WWE have on their books – at least to the non-WWE audience.

Brock Lesnar is Money and an MVP Whenever He’s in WWE

It came as no real surprise that Brock Lesnar has been brought back to WWE to coincide with Smackdown Live’s launch on FOX. I’ve gone on record before that Brock is a blessing and curse to WWE. He is a draw. He is a freak of nature and a natural talent. He is a star attraction. If he lived, breathed and bled WWE, he would be the biggest star in the industry since Hogan or Austin, perhaps even bigger. Thing is, he doesn’t live for wrestling. WWE is a paycheck to him and nothing more. And honestly, who can blame him?

WWE will always find themselves in a Catch-22 situation. They try to push new talent, but forever go back to big names for their biggest shows.

Wrestlemania coming up? Book Undertaker, Triple H and Goldberg in matches. Got a high-profile show or major change to the brand on the horizon? Throw money at Brock Lesnar and give the Rock a call to see if he’s busy. What’s that? There’s a new X-BOX/Playstation game being launched and we need some talent for the promotional video? Find Sting and tell Hogan all is forgiven.

It’s a never-ending cycle. If WWE won’t push or build new stars for the future, they’ll be forever relying on big names from the past. It would be like NXT bringing in Samoa Joe or AJ Styles to headline a Takeover show.

The problem now is that everyone mentioned above can’t put on a show longer than ten minutes in a high-pressure match with the exception of Lesnar, so they have little choice in bringing him back. Lesnar is their current go-to guy, and sad as it may seem, he is a big attraction and will generate interest – also due to the fantastic hype man that is Paul Heyman. I’d love to write that Rollins, Reigns or Kingston were the big ticket guys who will draw in new audiences, but they just aren’t right now. Reigns does have a good demographic reach and a recent study showed non-wrestling fans find him the most intriguing/interesting/handsome of the current crop on TV, but his run as champion a couple of years ago, along with a negative reaction from WWE fans, saw that idea put on the back burner for a while.

As it stands, we’re stuck with Brock Lesnar being billed as the big draw for WWE. I don’t hate the guy, far from it, but it would be nice for WWE to try something new and showcase some of the current roster and use them as ways to draw in new audiences. Do what NXT does; build from within and use the talent in the locker room to get out into the world and make names for themselves. Garner interest from outside and bring new eyes to the product.


So what do you think? Do you have unpopular opinions about wrestling? Did you disagree with all of mine, or did I get some right? I’d love to hear your thoughts. – Oh, before I forget, the unpopular opinion I had with my friends that caused so much outrage? I said the Burger King Whopper is a better burger than anything on offer in McDonald’s. There, I said it. I’ll die on that metaphorical hill.

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Vince McMahon Is At SmackDown In Atlanta

PWInsider is reporting that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon will be backstage at tonight’s WWE SmackDown Live. This comes after McMahon was not backstage for last night’s edition of Monday Night RAW. Michael Hayes and Eric Bischoff will be providing support.

Last night’s RAW was run by Paul Heyman & WWE VP of Global Television Production Michael Mansury.

WWE SmackDown LIVE will air on USA Network at 8pm ET.

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WWE SmackDown Live Preview 9/17/19

Tonight’s WWE SmackDown Live and WWE 205 Live episodes will take place from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia as the fallout from Clash of Champions continues. The New Day meet Randy Orton & The Revival in Six-Man Tag Team Match King Corbin ready for his coronation Erick Rowan sits down for interview after Clash of Champions reunion… Read More WWE SmackDown Live Preview 9/17/19

WWE Draft Officially Announced

Reports began surfacing earlier this month of a WWE Draft taking place in October as SmackDown makes its way to FOX on Friday, October 4. Earlier today, during the 1 pm ET NFL game on FOX it was announced the WWE Draft will begin on the October 11 episode of SmackDown and will then continue the following Monday… Read More WWE Draft Officially Announced

New Details And Cast Photo For WWE And Netflix’s “The Big Show Show”, Big Show On SmackDown?

It was announced back in July that WWE veteran Big Show was set to begin working on his new Netflix show in Los Angeles on Friday, August 9. “The Big Show Show” is a live-action multi-camera family comedy series that will run for 10 thirty-minute episodes, also starring Allison Munn and kid actresses Reylynn Caster, Juliet Donenfeld, and Lily… Read More New Details And Cast Photo For WWE And Netflix’s “The Big Show Show”, Big Show On SmackDown?