They say that everything you need to know you learn in kindergarten. While that may be true, for me I can say much of what I’ve learned came from my years in professional wrestling. I didn’t even begin to realize what I learned until the 20th IMPACT Wrestling Slammiversary which I was just a part of last Father’s Day.
I know so many of you would enjoy being a fly on the wall backstage at a pay-per-view, especially this one. I wanted to write an article to include you and have you be a part of a very long-awaited reunion if you will.
How many times have you said to yourself, ” I wish I could have a do-over. I wish I could go back in time and “undo” some things I said or that I did. For the last 20 years that has been on my heart as it’s public knowledge I was fired years ago from Impact Wrestling before I was ready to go. It’s water under the bridge and I’ve forgiven but not forgotten. I realize I had other things in my life since then, which were in God’s plan. Always remember whatever circumstances happen to you that they are part of a sequence that has been carefully constructed. When you put your trust in believing that you may not always understand why certain things happen when they do, it makes the pill easier to swallow.
I reached out to Impact Wrestling’s Executive Vice President Scott D’Amore with a question and ended up with a coveted spot on Slammiversary celebrating 20 years of IMPACT Wrestling. From the moment he asked me my stomach was turning and I was filled with anxiety as I hadn’t seen some of that cast for years.
Someone as confident and happy as I am was still extremely nervous. I told no one about this opportunity as it’s just easier to go do the deed without any questions. If I’ve learned anything from modeling, commercials, and doing movies, it’s to keep your mouth shut and get the job done right. Limit your distractions for the win.
If you would have told me upon entering my career in professional wrestling that much of what I needed for a successful and fulfilled life would be learned backstage and in the ring, I wouldn’t have believed you. But the following outline of words I would hear shaped me unconsciously. From the very first day I stepped into the locker room these are the virtuous words that have helped shape the last 20 years of my life. Maybe they can help you too.
The greatest lesson that I learned from the wrestling business was from the very first day I started. I was green, nervous, and terrified. I had no clue what I was doing but I was hired for a pretty important job interviewing the wrestlers backstage. I was to be the glue that connected the talent with the angles and stories. I didn’t know what the hell was going on and every time it seemed I could bend someone’s ear to find out more I was interrupted. I took it as a terrible lack of respect when in all actuality it was anything but. Wrestlers from all over the world would step into the frame, extend their hands and offer a handshake. They would introduce themselves by saying their name with a smile and a connection.
At first, I was so bothered by this because I was trying to get answers. After a while and after my pride was pushed to the side I realized this technique was actually incredible. I would pull this action from my bag of tricks when I would stang petrified getting ready to open for National acts with our band. I would go out into the crowd outside wrapped around the building pre-show and introduce myself. Sometimes for several hours. By the time we hit the stage, I basically know everyone in the crowd. They were like “old friends.”
You see your name is one of the greatest things you have and for some of us the only thing we had during the pandemic. It’s everything. That simple act of courageously introducing yourself to everyone made an impact on me. I’ve carried it through every live show, business meeting, convention, and conference. I remembered that respect every wrestler showed me and I mimic it with pride. Remember to respect those who have gone before you, honor them and learn.
A word that goes synonymously with respect and wrestling, is a secret terminology, “kayfabe.”
Pro wrestling can trace some of its stylistic origins back to carnivals and Catch Wrestling, where the term “kayfabe” is thought to have originated as carny slang for “protecting the secrets of the business.” The term “kayfabe” itself may ultimately derive from the Pig Latin form of “fake” (“ake-fay”) or the phrase. Pat Patterson, describes his interaction with a ring attendant in the Pacific Northwest Wrestling territory during the early 1960s. The term kayfabe was often used as a warning to other wrestlers that someone who was not “in the know” was in the vicinity.
Let’s say you and a friend are talking about someone. Behind your friend’s back, you see the very person you are talking about approaching. With your eyes and under a quiet breath you whisper kayfabe. It means stop talking because a secret could be exposed.
Much of the wrestling business should be or at least used to be composed of industry secrets. It’s no different than a magician or others who rely on mystery to wow and dazzle. These secrets should be held sacred and true consonant professionals honor them.
Many wrestlers wear masks, have different alter egos, and want their identities to remain anonymous. That’s what creating magic is truly made of. Mystery. It’s the very thing that encourages us to believe. Without it, the world would be pretty boring. Props to those who continue the legends and carry on legacies.
To quote the Great Curt Hennig, you have one mouth and two ears so shut up and listen. I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea. Renowned pro wrestler Lenny Lane was on my podcast a while back reminiscing about the days riding with Kurt who preached the art of listening. Kurt mentored me and trained Lenny and we both learned so much from this legend.
Listening is wrapped up in love. This photo pretty much sums it up. Love for the business, love for other workers human beings, and especially their kids. This young Canadian champion to be was obsessed with watching the show. Complete with his own custom unitard gimmick, Executive Vice President Scott D’Amore allowed him to not only watch but listen. This is how a company should be run. Running a tight ship while listening to wants and responding to the needs of others.
I never knew what it was. I was into professional wrestling years before the word started to sink in. I would hear it but it didn’t register. Years later, meaning last father’s day, I would rekindle a relationship that would turn into an unlikely friendship.
A manager and epic wrestling personality would once again extend his hand saying “hello” followed by a, “it’s been years.” We would sit backstage on a road case sharing photos and catching up on the last decade-plus of our lives. A man I used to work with that I used to be terrified of because his gimmick was so solid and so real. His kayfabe was second to none but now was sharing stories about becoming a new dad later in life. His demonic ora was softened by the new glow of fatherhood. It was amazing.
The Sinister Minister, also known as Father James Mitchel would take more time at the last pay-per-view than anyone to talk to me and find out how he could help reintroduce me into the business. This evil one would show respect and unconditional love with ideas that could help.
This man is the epitome of psychology because everything that came out of his mouth while working with him to this day spun clever threads into a colorful and strong fabric that told the stories of those around him.
Watch how Father James Mitchell doesn’t miss a beat:
Psychology and wrestling are all about explaining through words or expression why people do what they do. What happened in the past that shaped that person? What match can we pull upon from days gone by that is a nod to one that is currently going on? The Sinister Minister is the walking epitome of someone who has mastered the art of psychology. It was an honor to work with him in my TNA early days and even more so now that I understood how talented this guy really is.
The word alliance goes hand in hand with teamwork. It’s basically the same thing. It’s no wonder that so many wrestling federations have this word built right into their name. Take NWA for instance. NWA was part of TNA, now it’s just IMPACT but people still remember and pay homage to the promotion’s roots.
I was blown away when I saw President and owner Billy Corgan backstage at this 2022 Slammiversary celebration. He showed up and was greeted by hugs from everyone. This guy is obviously loved and respected. Just his being there spoke volumes requiring no words.
I remember him coming to wrestling when I started in 2002 wondering why this rock star was lurking around the murky corners of our humble fairgrounds. He had a vision and was prepared to do what it takes to be a part of this industry and to make a lasting name. It literally brought tears to my eyes to see somebody who could be viewed as a competitor cheering on the impact family. Nothing but love. This is what sports entertainment and entertainment, in general, should be about. There’s plenty of room for everyone. A scarce mentality leads to a bankrupt soul.
Billy Corgan demonstrates a very important word in pro wrestling vocabulary.
A wrestling term you may not know but I will teach you; “putting over”. In simple terms, to complement.
Just by showing up, he puts over his sister company. “Putting someone over” means taking a minute to shine a light on someone else. It’s so much better when you’re not standing waving a banner of your own praise.
Another person who showed up speaking words of praise was former President Dixie Carter. It’s been years but she showed up with such grace and poise. She spoke some beautiful words complimenting each and everyone who has contributed to IMPACT history.
People like Dixie Carter, Tommy Dreamer, and Christopher Scoville to everyone who helped produce and shape that show. Everyone lifts up the next person helping them be their best.
Here’s a perfect example of Impact Wrestlin’s backstage interviewer Gia introducing me only so that I can put over Gail Kim for being voted the most impactful knockout in the last 20 years of the company history.
What a great clip!
It’s so much better when someone else hails your fanfare. Be that person at work, school, and in life who is a cheerleader for others. It will only come back to bless you. It will bite you in the @$$ but only in the best way. I was so surprised to see this clip on one of my favorite shows, with Ben Hamin and The Hamin Media Group. I wasn’t expecting this which is what makes it even better. This is a beautiful example of how paying forward a compliment can turn full circle.
I’m blown away by Bin’s words.
A synonym for protection is shelter, and that is exactly what so many of the greatest wrestlers of all time do for other workers. It took me years to realize that what made an athlete great wasn’t how well they did the moves but how well they kept their fellow wrestlers physically protected. Did they show up to the arena on time, were they sober, and did they really think about everything that would go into making an incredible match but still having everyone end up alive or not physically mutated. Most of these men and women already step into the ring with pulled muscles and broken bones. They don’t say anything or you’ll “lose your spot.” So it’s up to your teammates to carry you through and be that shelter in the storm.
The older I get performing it biomes less and less about me but about the crowd. It’s about creating moments and memories for those who paid their ticket price to forget the troubles of their current lives and situations. The same goes with wrestling. How well you take care of your partner in and out of the ring truly determines your greatness. No one likes an asshole but being one in the ring can end fatally. You want to talk about talent? See the photo below. This man basically has worked magic throughout his whole career protecting those around him.
We end with forgiveness.
You don’t always get a crack at a second chance. I did. And you can bet that I did everything as possibly perfect as I could this time around. I showed up hours ahead of my call time and I brought my camera. I had a notepad in hand and an even better attitude. I was grateful and full of love for the opportunity Executive Vice President Scott D’Amore and the team graced me with. Only the most positive thoughts were allowed to fill my head. If I saw someone in the past I didn’t like, I treated them as though they were my long-lost brother or sister and welcomed them with open arms. It’s the only way to live. I was surprised to hear other cast members were filled with anxiety approaching the fairgrounds as it’s been years since we return to our roots. I was able to talk with people like Superstar Mickie James, Tracy Brooks, and Gail Kim and apologize for not being as kind to them as I could have been back in the day. I didn’t always see the true talent in those I worked with then but I sure as hell do now. I couldn’t believe how gracious, understanding, and “REAL” they all were. Everyone was. People like Scott Hudson went out of their way to selflessly help me and even workers like Rebel & Jessicka Havok were there to offer kindness and advice. What started out as a scary but exciting opportunity ended even better than I could have imagined.
That’s what happens when you grow up. There’s a lot we can learn if we think back to Kindergarten and the simple things the teacher taught us. So many of those principles and virtues I learned in professional wrestling.
We get older, things change and we realize that we could have handled things a lot better. The true gift learning from what you did wrong. Look at your mistakes, look at your shortcomings and make a change. I truly believe you can manifest second chances and that’s my wish for all of you.
I’m excited to see where my journey in wrestling will take me. I would love to come back to a promotion and be one of the greatest heels or supporting managers of all time. I finally have sta clue and I’m on fire to help create something epic and have the guidance like I received this last Slammiversary. The team was LIT! I’m looking forward to what the universe has in store for me and for all of you reading.
Thanks for your time and being a fly on a locker room wall.
Thanks to ALL of my TNA IMPACT friends who welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like a million bucks.
Love always, Goldy