Finding New Wrestling Friends with Pavlov

I work in the front office. My friend Frankie works in will call. The two of us talk wrestling almost every day. We talk about the pay-per-views, Raw, NXT (when I can get him to watch), and rumors in the Internet. I keep talking to him about indy wrestling, and one of these days, I will get him to break down and check it out. Frankie and I have talked so much wrestling the last few years that the UPS guy Nick, a former Memphis wrestling/Tojo Yamamoto fan, has started watching again.

It’s nice having co-workers who share your obsession, but when you’re new to a job, a school, or even a new church, it can be hard to figure out who’s a fan. That is, unless you know Pavlov.

Pavlov was not a wrestler. He was a Russian physiologist best known for his work in classical conditioning and a series of experiments he did with dogs. Pavlov rang a bell every time he fed the dogs. After a while, the dogs would begin to salivate at the mere sound of a bell in anticipation of their meal, much like wrestling fans when they hear certain sounds.

The WWE understands Pavlov. Think about your favorite wrestlers and their entrance themes. The drum roll off on Seth Rollins’s theme. The opening power chord from Motorhead’s rendition of “The Game.” The Rock’s “IF YOU SMELLLLLLLL…” introduction. The WWE uses stingers at the start of every major star’s theme to induce a Pavlovian response, and if you are clever, you can use the same strategy to sniff out the wrestling fans in your office, school, or place of worship.

One way to trigger this Pavlovian response is to change the text alert sound on your phone to the sound of glass breaking from the opening of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s entrance theme. No wrestler elicits a response like Austin, and no wrestling fan can help but look up when he or she heads that unmistakable crash.

Another sound guaranteed to cause a reaction is the New Age Outlaws’ theme. If you’re in a cubicle village, this may work better than the Stone Cold crash because it elicits a verbal response. When a diehard hears the opening guitar riff, “Dum-duh-dah-dum,” just listen for the call back, “Oh you didn’t know??” If there’s a fan nearby, the response will be automatic.

But what if you’re in a situation that calls for phones to be on silent? Consider dropping signature phrases into your day to day conversations, the kind your favorite superstars use to get a reaction. Let’s say you’re at church, and the subject of world hunger comes up. Perhaps you speak up and say, “As believers, we can’t sit back and do nothing. We need to do something for the millions–”
Pause. Did someone answer back: “And millions!”

It’s automatic. We’ve all been programmed, and if you’re clever enough, you can use that to your advantage.

Granted all of these examples involve Attitude Era stars and not the stars of today’s PG era, but the same principle should apply to any wrestling sound, song, or catchphrase from any era. Set your ringtone to Roman Reigns’s theme song, and when your Mom calls to tell you about Dad’s last doctor’s appointment, follow the sound of incessant booing. You’ve just found your new best friend.