Address To Graduating Class At Bennington College Of Wrestling

By: David Henne

I hope you will all be very happy as members of the professional wrestling class in America. I myself have been rejected again and again. Mostly from consciousness. By unforgiving steel chairs.

As I said at the Royal Rumble in Pittsburgh not long ago, it isn’t often that a WWE referee is invited to speak in the springtime. I predicted that outside interference would plague the main event of WrestleMania, and outside interference has plagued the main event of WrestleMania.

One trouble, it seems to me, is that the majority of wrestlers who compromise the title, who wield brass knuckles and kendo sticks, are giants or degenerates. The giants want to chokeslam every authority out of existence. The degenerates want us to act as though hair tugging and closed-fist strikes are just a part of life. These are not always the best solutions — particularly in the fields of pompadour maintenance and general cognizance.

And I urge all of you to please notice when you are awake, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, then I don’t know whose sledgehammer this is.”

Recently I was a graduation speaker at a little preparatory school for wrestlers who were reliant on foreign objects. I told the students that they were much too young to brandish steel steps, boa constrictors and deviancy.

I often hear managers say to their green talent, “All right, you see so much that is wrong with the jobbers in the back — go out and swing a 2×4 at them. We’re all for you! Go out and crack them over the head with this megaphone!”

You are four years older than those prep school wrestlers but still very young. You, too, have been swindled, if a manager has persuaded you that titles can change hands as the result of disqualification.

It isn’t up to you. You weren’t raised under the tables-ladders-and-chairs desperation of the Attitude Era. You don’t have the appearance of grave maturity — even though many of you wearing masks today may be gravely mature.

Do not take the entire division on your shoulders. Do a certain amount of skylarking, as befits wrestlers of your age. “Skylarking,” incidentally, was the original term for the moonsault, which was a minor offense under the early laws of the luchador.

What a charming crime. I would love to have a dishonorable discharge from the lucha libre sanctioning body — for skylarking not just once onto a dazed opponent, but again and again and again.

Many of you will undertake physically grueling work this summer, helping the heels and the ignorant and the awfully old get over. Good. But skylark off the top rope for a decent pop of your own, too.

Before I leave, I should like to give a motto to your class, a motto to your entire generation. It comes from my favorite event, which is the 1993 King of the Ring. In the first match of the Pay-Per-View, you will remember, Papa Shango — Kama Mustafa, who would later become The Godfather — enters with Adam Bomb, who would later become Wrath. They arrive at the entrance ramp and immediately receive news that the third member of their three-man tag team has been blinded by the atomizer of The Model Rick Martel. Papa Shango says this, among other things, and this is the motto I give you: “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”

Again: “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”

We already have plenty of sound suggestions as to how we are to act if things are to become better in the squared circle. For instance: clasp a downed combatant’s wrist, raise it skyward thrice, and you’ll be amazed at the transformation you inspire.

All that is required is that we become less selfish than we are. Because after all the fanfare and pyrotechnics fade, there’s only one rule that I know of, babyfaces — Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.


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