Professional wrestling might be a predetermined spectacle, but there is nothing fake about a body crashing down to the mat at the speed of 60 kilometres per hour from the force of a flying drop kick.
The term “scientific wrestling” is given a new definition with Slam Bam, a documentary exploring kinesiology and physics behind the death defying moves of professional wrestling. This two-part adventure not only dwells on what’s real in wrestling, but also shows the skill involved in making every move work.
“Wrestling is gymnastics with attitude,” said Ricki Glinert, co-creator of Slam Bam. “What we wanted to do was follow the training and see how people progressed. Wrestling is a physical science and like any physical activity, you have to know your body and what it goes through, and how your bones and muscles wear and tear.”
For three months, Slam Bam followed the students of Squared Circle Training in Toronto, where trainers Rob Fuego (Rob Etcheverria) and Steve Cvjetkovich taught wannabe wrestlers the basics of the mat wars as they prepared for an upcoming wrestling card, known as “The Big Show.” With the use of computer animation, moves such as the cross body block and flying head scissors are dissected to outline body movement and the physical impact involved with each move.
“Slam Bam gives the audience a really good idea of what we have to go through and what it takes to become a wrestler,” said Fuego. “Everything we teach here is a science. From the way we stand, to the way we throw each other around, its all about leverage and momentum.”
Like all physical sports, injuries are abound in pro-wrestling. In addition to the physicality behind each move, Slam Bam also looks at the plague of injuries through miscalculated moves. Several trainees featured suffered broken bones, torn muscles and concussions while filming. In addition to the trainees’ experience, wrestling legend Bret “Hitman” Hart provides a revealing insight into the psyche of a professional wrestler, including move descriptions, injuries, and a candid account of his recovery from a severe stroke.
“The things we do in the ring, whether choreographed or not, are not healthy to do,” said Cvjetkovich. “Even though there is a technique to it that minimizes the damage, our bodies do impact the mat. There’s no good way to fall down.”
Adrian Ede, who wrestles as “Adrian-X,” suffered an injury after executing a dive off the top rope while filming Slam Bam. In the year-and-a-half since becoming a wrestler, Ede has suffered multiple injuries. He said that there are a lot of mechanics involved in executing moves properly while attempting to put on a good match.
“In Slam Bam, I jumped off the top rope to the outside and knocked my head off the cement and got a nice minor concussion,” said Ede. “It’s a science in that you need to know a lot to put a good match together. It’s not just about knowing how to do moves and making them look pretty. It’s knowing how to do every single move properly and how to entertain people with it.”
The two-hour program is not a typical educational program where viewers are bombarded with scientific facts. Slam Bam is meant to entertain and educate wrestling fans and non-fans alike.
“We show you how all the muscles move and work without hitting you over the head (with information),” added Glinert. “It’s a general entertainment show. People aren’t looking to be lectured; they’re looking to be entertained.”
Slam Bam premieres on Sunday, December 19 at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel (Canadian version). For more info on Squared Circle Training, visit www.squaredcircletraining.com. SLAM! Wrestling will have a preview/review of the shows next week.