Wednesday, December 21, 2011

International Experience

Over the last couple of days, the smart mark social media world has been all worked up over a "dis war" between two well known independent wrestlers: Chris Hero and TJ Perkins.  As far as I can tell, it started with an answer to a question on Perkins' Formspring account, where he was asked the following question (with the answer the follows):
 You say indy's are crap and for good experience you need to go world wide. Chris Hero has done NOAH plenty and all over the planet. You still said he doesn't have experience. Why? I agree he's not that great, I'm just trying to understand.
A guy like Chris will go and work a show, or a tour, and all of a sudden they are toyting international experience.

Going somewhere as a star listed on a poster as opposed to going as an unknown and a student, living there, training there, staying there, and being a part of the culture and having it truly shape you as a person.....two very VERY different things.

So when i say international experience, thats what i mean. I can count on one hand tye amount of peers i know who have gone off to another country with dick in their pocket and lived in a gym, ate foreign food, called a ratty dojo loft or hotel room home, and earned the right to call thenself a wrestler bred from those enviornments.

And of those few guys maybe only 1 or two are trendy in the eyes of the indy audience.

When you go over as the american guest star you learn very little in comparison. Your hand is held, you are treated and accomodated well, not much is expected of you outside of your name value on a poster.
Shortly after this was posted, Perkins fielded more questions about Hero, mostly of the "Why are you dissing Hero" variety, which Perkins mostly diffused and blew off.  A little while later, Hero posted the following message on his Twitter account:
LLOL @ TJ Perkins discussing my career like hes an expert. Wrestlings youngest vet should do his homework before my name comes out his mouth
Now, who knows if there is any personal animosity between these two guys?  I do not, but it is irrelevant to this discussion in my opinion.  A fan asked Perkins a question specific to Hero (which alludes to another statement by Perkins that I didn't find in my search) and his amount of international experience.  Perkins answered the question with his opinion.  Hero obviously took exception to Perkins' opinion, which he has every right to do.

However, the internet is apparently up in arms over how Perkins could dis Hero, and not really sure why.  To make the timing even better, rumors started circulating yesterday in numerous places that Hero had lost his long-rumored deal with World Wrestling Entertainment based on a failed PED test. 

What makes Perkins' opinion seem ludicrous is that Hero is well known for his international travels, and performing for many different promoters in many different nations.  In Perkins' answer, he stated that in his opinion, Hero lacked international experience, because Hero is a "carpetbagger" of sorts; he arrives, performs, and then leaves, having performed as a "guest", and not absorbed the local style. 

I know Hero personally from when we both wrestled together in Pittsburgh, and I can pretty much call "bullshit" on Perkins' claim.  However, I do not disagree with his idea that to become a more seasoned wrestler - to gain that "international experience", you have to immerse yourself into they way they do things, and not just arrive on the scene and do your thing.  

I never have had the chance to wrestle internationally, but I have had the chance to travel extensively, and learn different styles.  One of the reasons that I began working with Chicago's GALLI promotion in 2010 was to become more familiar with authentic lucha libre, and not bastardized gringo concepts of what lucha libre is.  Plus, I started wrestling in Columbus, and grew as a wrestler immensely by spending my early years wrestling all over Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  When I went back to Ohio a couple years later to wrestle, I thought I was more polished and well rounded than guys who stayed in Central Ohio. 

But, I always made it a point when I made my booking schedule up to be a consistent performer in different areas - and not just take a booking that was available somewhere and wrestle a guy that was also from my area that I could travel with.  When I worked in West Virginia, I worked with local guys.  When I went to Virginia, I worked with local guys.  Same thing with every territory and every company I went to.  You learn how each region does things just a little different; it is how one learns the "tricks of the trade". 

Perkins has essentially said that on a grander scale.  He is saying that it doesn't mean as much to get booked for a tour of Japan, compared to being asked to train at a Japanese dojo.  Going to Mexico and working a few shows on the border isn't the same as doing a six month touring schedule with a major company. 

I cannot argue against his point, although I might argue in how he made it. 

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