Confessions of a Professional Pro-Wrestling Announcer

“When you are in politics and depending on somebody to keep you in, you really ain’t able to act like real life.”

~ Will Rogers

Well folks, I hate to make this announcement, but this just might be the last article I will ever write in my life; it might even be the last time I ever touch a keyboard for that matter. My life has changed too much over these last few days.

There are some things in a man’s life that he knows he can depend on: His dog, his horse, a good Kenny Rogers song, and his pickup truck.

Lord knows we can’t depend on a woman to stand by her man, to give him two arms to cling to; especially when nights are cold and lonely.

Some things in life are sacred to a cowboy and I have some of those sacred thingy’s too.

But after what happened to me the other night, I am now questioning everything I have ever believed in: God, my family, the government, love, flowers, children, and other pretty things… Sniff….

Shoot, okay, I suppose I’d better start off by tellin’ ya’ll the truth about life and all the things that really matter to you; because once you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll realize as I do, that nothing really matters… Nothing really matters, to me (anyway the wind blows).

I’d been keeping it a secret and not telling anyone, but times have been hard on the Rogers family. The music business is going down the tubes faster than you can say “Brittany Spears supports George Bush for president.” And since the music business has been going so badly, I’ve fallen on hard times. So hard, in fact that when some folks from the Pacific Professional Wrestling Foundation and the WWF asked me to ring announce the world heavyweight title match in Tokyo, I had to take the job: I had no choice; I had to come out of retirement. I needed the money.

Yes, it is true.

Now some of you folks out there are probably thinking that Pro-Wrestling is all fake and I can understand that. For that’s what I had been thinking for these entire 49 years. And that’s why I did not want to do this job: I thought it to be way below my dignity. But after what I witnessed the other night; after I saw with my own eyes some things that I just cannot explain; I am now certain that Pro-Wrestling is real; it’s as real as real-life. When it comes to Professional-Wrestling, everything you know, or think you know, is wrong.

Some people have some weird idea that professional boxing is real and pro-wrestling is fake. I can’t figure that one out. But as George Foreman said when asked what he thought about today’s professional boxing, his answer was:

“It’s just a big joke.”

Like I said already, I have always thought that Pro-Wrestling was fake. Well, of course I did. And so did you. You know why we thought that it was fake? Because it was always on TV. That’s right! Because everyone knows everything on TV is fake!

I mean, come on, does anyone actually believe that Big Bird is a big bird and not just a man in a bird costume? Does anyone actually believe Star-Search is not fixed? (Oh the stories I could tell you about Star-Search and Survivor!) Does anyone actually believe that there is absolutely nothing going on between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, even though they are no longer on the X-Files? Are there even an X-Files anymore?

Does anyone actually believe that The Boston Red Sox won the World Series?

How many times have you heard conversations like this recently? (Between the average man on the street and his friend):

“I can’t believe that the Red Sox came back from three games down to sweep the Yankees and sweep the Cardinals to win the World Series!”

“Neither can I… Unbelievable!”

See what I mean?

We all know this stuff is all real or fake because we have either seen it with our own eyes or we watched it on TV. Now who you going to believe? Your own eyes or TV? Your own eyes, right? Great! Now you and I are on the same page.

On October 31st at the Tokyo Ryogokukan Sumo Arena, I was the ringside announcer for the 20th Anniversary of “The Great Muto” Special Pro-Wrestling match.

Throughout his long career, The Great Muto has fought for the World Championship against the likes of: Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Antonio Inoki (who lost in his bid to unite the boxing and wrestling world championships to Muhammad Ali), Giant Baba, Bob Sapp, The Gladiator, Andree the Giant, Sting, Abdullah The Butcher, Day-Lo Browne, Scott Norton and many more!!!!

I arrived at the Sumo arena for sound check and rehearsals at 2 o’clock. The bouts were to start at 5. The Sumo arena holds 12,000 people and the tickets at about $90 each were all sold-out well in advance. (You figure it out — $90 dollars multiplied by 12,000 — Plus TV revenues, merchandising, etc.)

The Great Muto and me. I’m 6′ 2″ tall and this has got to be the biggest Japanese I have ever seen in my life… That’s not fat, either folks; we’re both all muscle.

We did our sound checks and made sure our match cards were correct (this was, after all, a Pay-per-view national TV broadcast that was bi-lingual as several famous American wrestlers were on that night’s card).

After the sound checks, I had a few hours to kill so I sat by ringside and watched these pro-wrestlers warming up. Man, I couldn’t believe it! Besides doing the usual stretching that all athletes do before their race or event, these guys went through their moves.

Like a ballerina dancer warming up by doing pirouettes and what-ever-you-whatcha-call-its; these guys would roll over repeatedly on the ring, practice falling, practice getting slammed down, practice being flipped over judo style; they even practiced the Ju-Jitsu art of being tossed and rolling so that you do not get hurt in that falling process. I was shocked. Even though these were only warm-ups, they still required a huge amount of strength and stamina and man did they have to hurt! I cringed every time one guy would come slamming down on the ring and the sound of the crash would explode all the way to the roof!

I checked the ring’s surface a little later on and it was not soft; it was hard like plywood.

After sound checks and announcement rehearsals, everyone went backstage to prepare for the doors to open and when I was called back, the place was packed with people. The seats all the way up into the back of the 4th floor rafters were packed with paying customers. What a sight.

There were a total of 8 or 9 matches that night. I sat ringside with several other ringside announcers. There were three stadiums announcers; two radio announcers; and three different groups of TV announcers from three different TV stations. There were also at least 50 professional sports photographers there.

Some of the fights started and I could hear the comments of the audience from behind me. There was one old lady who was saying things during the first few matches like:

“Oh! No one believes this!” Or;

“That’s ridiculous!” or she would just laugh.

Odd thing is though, by the time we got to the final three or four matches, she was going berserk and screaming louder than anyone around! This lady was in a shark-feeding frenzy! She would scream at various wrestlers who would be down:

“Get up! Get up! Get up!… Get him! Hit him! Hurt him!”

She was jumping out of her seat and screaming bloody murder when some wrestler she liked got pinned. She’d cry foul and be hitting the metal protection railing that was all around the ring. I was glad that the metal railing was there! I wasn’t so much worried about being bashed by wrestlers who came crashing out of the ring so much (which they did a few times). I was glad that the metal railing was there to protect me from customers like her!

The weird thing about it all was just about all the customers were this way: at first laughing and jovial, but as the night grew on, they could smell blood and they were out to get some. Oh! The savagery! Man’s inhumanity to man. I felt sick.

Former pro-wrestling Champion and now president of the Pacific-World Wrestling Federation, “The Lariot” Stan Hansen. Stan was also known as “Unsinkable Battleship” in Japan and is the only man ever to defeat both Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba!

There were a few bouts where wrestlers would cheat and three guys would be banging up on one guy over and over. They’d kick him when he was down and hurt him in every possible way you could imagine. The worst part was that, even though the wrestler would want to give up, they wouldn’t let him, and they’d just keep beating him senselessly. It was brutal. It was a kind of torture. And the crowd was loving it.

I think I now know the atmosphere of an ancient Roman coliseum when gladiators fought: The two warriors are battling it out in the ring; they are doing their best to entertain the audience all the while attempting to get out alive; but the audience will accept nothing less than repeated, senseless, and severe punishment meted out to the perpetrator of some crime committed against them as a collective-self. What that crime was, I don’t know: I didn’t see the previous matches. But they wanted to see pain.

The people demanded the head of the criminal and were furious when they were denied. They were denied either because the criminal won the fight or the referee stepped in and stopped the execution of the criminal from being carried out.

I wasn’t made to feel so ill at what was going on in the ring; I was made to feel ill by the reaction of the audience: They went as wild as animals foaming at the mouth and they wanted more and more violence.

And they got their blood and violence in the next tag-team grudge match: The local clean-cut fair-fighting Osamu Nishimura versus the Legendary King of Bloodshed, Abdullah the Butcher.

Abdullah the Butcher’s schtick is that he always cheats and pulls a knife on his opponent and cuts him up real bad. Sure it’s all fake. Yeah… Fake. Well that’s what I thought until Abdullah the Butcher pulled the knife he had hidden and began cutting this guy right in front of me with it. Folks, he wasn’t six feet in front of me and I could see it clearly: He was cutting this guy’s forehead and the guy was bleeding. There were no “blood balloons” or anything like that. It was real. Now don’t forget that I have worked in broadcasting now for over 27 years, but I had never seen anything like this.

Hulk Hogan and Rocky from the movie Rocky III. Now this is fake, they are acting. This is not real; it is a movie.

If I saw this on TV, I wouldn’t have believed it. But it was right in front of me; I saw it with my own eyes. The crowd was furious. They were throwing things at the Butcher. Eventually the match ended with the Butcher either being disqualified or his partner was pinned. I’m not sure which. But I had seen enough. I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to throw up. I knew then that this Pro-wrestling business was not a joke; it is, indeed, all real.

Sure some of you reading this are thinking, “Mike has really gone off the deep end this time.” But I want to ask you a question:

Have you ever sat ringside at a professional wrestling match? No? Have you ever been a professional Professional-Wrestling announcer? No?

Well, if you answered “No” to either of these questions then isn’t it just a wee-bit possible that I might know a little bit more about this than you do? Well, I suppose I do and I’m telling you that it is all real!

But, I’m sure there will always be disbelievers amongst you (which is laughable when you stop to think about it; I think many LRC readers are involved with finances such as stocks and bonds and the horse races — And they will be the people who will most claim that the stock market or money markets aren’t “fixed” either! Ha!) Okay, let’s say it’s not real; it’s all fake. Fine. Then all I can say is that, then, following your logic (and mine) that means everything we see on TV could be either fake or real.

I say, if it’s on TV, it’s fake. If you are there, it’s real. Life is just one big Truman Show and you are in it, even though you fail to realize such.

People pay big money to go watch pro-wrestling; it’s a spectacle. But I’ll tell you what, it’s no more or less fixed or a spectacle than any other professional sport; It’s no more or less fixed than any other “game.”

And the most amazing thing about this entire business is when you realize that American politics are just one huge spectacle too. The outcomes are already decided; everything is fixed; the bookies make their odds. People pay big money, watch, and get overly-excited over who wins and who loses. Family members even get into fist fights over politics! Sometimes it gets so bad that some families are destroyed by arguments about American politics… And this game goes on and on, year after year. Everyone knows it’s a joke. Everyone knows it’s fixed; and yet they still come back, paying their money, screaming for more! Unbelievable!

Oh, the savagery! Man’s inhumanity to man: It makes me sick.