I must admit it was a little surreal watching the Stone Cold Podcast with Brock Lesnar on Monday night. I was expecting to hear about The Plane Ride from Hell or about that time Brock apparently stormed out of RAW before his contract expired. Instead the first fifteen minutes consisted of the two talking about hunting, cars and guns. It was like they were trying to audition to host the next series of Top Gear.
While there weren’t many of the expected talking points coming away from the podcast, there was one thing that got people talking online. During the podcast, Brock described wrestling as "just a job". He just "clocks in" when he gets to a building then "clocks out" when he leaves. He doesn’t seem to show the passion of some wrestlers who treat it as a lifestyle. On the WOOOOO! Nation Podcast, Michael Hayes criticised wrestlers who had this "just a job" approach. But is treating wrestling like this really a bad thing?
To analyse this particular issue we need to look at it from two sides – passion and balance. In terms of passion, I think everyone strives to have a place of employment where they can do work that they are passionate about. From my own experience, I find that when I am passionate about what I’m doing, it’s so much easier to get your work done as you enjoy the process instead of it feeling like a long hard slog. Personally, I think professional wrestlers should be passionate about what they are doing. Most of them will need to (at least initially) to get a contract with a company like WWE in times where there aren’t too many alternatives and certainly none at the same level.
Is Brock Lesnar passionate about wrestling? Yes I think so. The guy has spent the vast majority of his adult life involved in wrestling. Whether it’s using his amateur wrestling skills in the NCAA or UFC or his pro wrestling acumen in WWE. From the impression I got from the podcast, Brock just doesn’t enjoy everything around the wrestling. The travel, the schedule, the dealing with people – that’s the stuff that really grinds Lesnar’s gears. It’s the reason he walked out in 2004 and would never go back to doing a full-time schedule now.
If someone isn’t passionate about wrestling and in the business or has simply lost that passion, perhaps they need to consider their options. Because the business of wrestling is such an intensive, time consuming industry, it must absolutely suck to be there if you hate it. It is also likely to decrease your performance and what are the chances of you getting promoted up the card, if you don’t seem to love what you’re doing?
But let’s talk about things from a balance perspective. There a thing in life many strive for called the work-life balance. Brock Lesnar is a man who epitomises the work-life balance. And to be honest, he’s probably one of the only active talents on the roster who you can say that about. Most guys are on the road constantly. There are no holidays except an extremely brief Christmas vacation. When the company goes abroad they work even longer and harder without having much time to adjust to the effects of jet lag. They follow the boss, Vince McMahon’s lead by being a bunch of workaholics who consider sleep a sign of weakness. Brock on the other hand does his wrestling dates but he also hunts, he also spends time at home with his family. He has time for the other things in life. After all, there are a lot more important things in life than wrestling – like your health or your family. Brock understands that better than anyone.
The problem with talent and management of WWE having a workaholic attitude is that it comes with a very bad side effect. One day, whether it’s through their own choice or if fate interferes, these talents will have to retire. While some might stay in the circle of wrestling, not all will. From my own experience, I have found out what it’s like when you obsess all your waking hours and become a workaholic for just one cause. I used to run my University radio station. While I did that, I spent all my waking hours doing something that related to that radio station. My friends were part of the radio station, my social life was through the radio station, and even love interests came from the radio station. Then I got to the end of my final year and realised I was graduating and I had to leave. This gave me a massive void in my life. I hadn’t given any of my time to anything else that I was left feeling like I had nothing and got quite depressed. This is the ultimate problem with the workaholic attitude. If one day the work gets taken away from you, suddenly you have nothing left.
The workaholic approach is the exact reason why Vince McMahon will never retire. Wrestling is his life and losing it would feel like a death to ol’ Vinny Mac. Vince might think that’s the way everyone should approach their life but that’s definitely wrong. McMahon is like the entrepreneurs you hear about who miss lots of important parts of their children’s lives because they were too busy working. A lot of talent might miss those things too due to being on the road. One guy who won’t though is Brock Lesnar. That’s why Austin can have a 15-minute conversation with him that has nothing to do with wrestling because his life is full of lots of different interests and pursuits.
I applaud Brock and others who are thinking beyond the wrestling business and are not treating it like the sole meaning of their existence. It really is the healthy approach. If you saw this week’s Table for 3, you saw three guys preparing for "what’s next?" While you can argue about the quality of R-Truth’s rapping or The Miz’s acting prowess, you’ve got to admire their ability to look at the bigger picture beyond the squared circle.
People in the business and fans alike need to remember there is much more to life than wrestling. Being able to broaden one’s horizons beyond the business is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing as DDP would put it. We should be here praising the Brock Lesnar mantra because it is the right one. Eat. Sleep. Clock in. Clock out. Repeat.