If you heard the Steve Austin Unleashed Podcast last week, you heard Austin and Kenny Bolin discussing a promo where “Dr. D” David Schultz got Mean Gene to break up and laugh on camera. Here’s the video clip if you’d like to have a look:
Dr. D has been written out of a lot of wrestling history over the last 20 years, despite his runs in Stampede, Memphis, Florida, Japan, and the AWA as well as WWF. We’re going to set the record straight. Dr. D’s autobiography, “Don’t Call me Fake,” is on track for release this coming winter.
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.
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Listening to Jeff Jarrett on this week’s Talk is Jericho and he brings up an interesting point about the uptick in quality in independent wrestling.
In the old territory days, the young guys were made to watch every single match. Dutch Mantell forced a young Steve Austin to sit in a chair, watch every match on the card every night, and learn. He did, and look where it got him.
In the heyday of IWA Mid-South, when the old territories were just a memory, CM Punk, Chris Hero, Colt Cabana, and Dave Prazak would stay up all night raiding Ian Rotten’s video tape collection and watching wrestling from around the world. Prazak founded Shimmer. Cabana and Hero are two of the few making big bucks outside the WWE. Punk became a legend.
Today’s young stars grew up with Internet and YouTube. They have access to wrestling from every era, every federation, every continent, and every style. It’s Ian Rotten’s old video library times a million.
I am not excusing those who never get in the ring to train and call themselves “professional wrestlers.” There’s no excuse for not learning all you can, inside the ring and out, from veterans who know the business. There are some things you can’t learn from video, but there’s a whole lot you can learn just by watching.
There’s a reason why Stone Cold became Stone Cold. It’s the same reason Punk became Punk. It’s one of the reasons today’s indies are a far cry from the indies of fifteen years ago.
Just one of many reasons we are seeing a revival in independent wrestling.