Professional Wrestlers as Role Models and Why They Continue to Inspire Us – by Mike Sanchez

Smackdown Live debuted on FOX last night and will continue to do so on Friday nights for the foreseeable future. As with any big launch show, WWE pulled out all the stops by promising big matches and a bevy of familiar faces for the audience. One such face will be the Great One himself, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Now while it makes sense to have The Rock on the show alongside legends such as Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and others, it got me thinking; WWE likes to showcase their talent as inspirational figures and role models, but are – or rather should – they to be thought of as role models for people? I honestly believe that the current crop of WWE (and some non-WWE personnel) are an incredible group of people who could and should be looked upon as role models, be it for children or adults, they can inspire many.

Let’s start with The Rock. From following his Instagram, Twitter or hearing him speak in various interviews, it was always clear to see that he was a driven man who wanted to achieve more in life. Positioned as one of, if not the most, popular wrestlers in modern history, he didn’t rest on his laurels. He always wanted to be more and so left his multi-million dollar contracts with WWE in order to pursue a dream of being a Hollywood actor. The rest, as they say, is history and despite mixed reviews for his early film work, he has grown into one of the most bankable assets in Hollywood – recently topping a list of movie stars whose films have grossed the most money.

That’s not all though, as he often invites the camera behind the scenes to show how hard he works off-screen. Famed for bringing his own gym (the Iron Paradise) on set with him, Rock is dedicated to being the best he can be and is always in top physical condition. He has also extended his reach into other ventures; investing in producing movies (Seven Bucks Productions), creating his own tequila brand, being his own promotional vehicle – reportedly written into any contract he signs – and supporting business partners like Under Armour whenever he can.

The Rock’s dedication and commitment to his hard work lies in his famous ‘Seven Bucks’ story – at one point in his early 20s he had only that amount of cash to his name and knew he had to change his life. Rock is easily one of the most admired people in WWE history – even if it is for his work away from the company, but if you wanted inspiration from someone who has done so much in their lives and you aren’t afraid of putting in the hard work and effort, you couldn’t go far wrong from learning from Dwayne Johnson.

Perhaps you weren’t born into a famous wrestling family or don’t stand over six feet tall and were never seen as a main event star when you were starting out in WWE. Perhaps you saw what lay ahead and decided that you and only you, were going to have to work and grind harder than ever to make it impossible to ignore you. If you have that mind-set, or feel similarities to the situation, take inspiration from Becky Lynch.

Leaving her native Ireland at age 17, Rebecca Knox knew that she wanted to be a professional wrestler. She toured the independent circuit, traveled across the world honing her craft until one day she found herself at a revamped WWE Performance Centre, now branded as NXT. She found herself in a crop of talented young women who outgrew the smaller promotion and were summoned to the big stages of Raw and Smackdown Live. After a lull in her early main roster run, Lynch got her head down and pushed hard to force herself into WWE’s main event scene – culminating in winning the Women’s Royal Rumble this year, being part of THE Main Event at Wrestlemania and also being the first woman to hold both Women’s Titles (“Becky Two Belts”).

Becky Lynch is an inspiration for young girls everywhere. She didn’t get to the top by flaunting herself. She didn’t get to the top by being ‘in’ with someone. She got there by hard work, commitment and a never say die attitude. Becky Lynch broke barriers, and set higher bars for others to follow. Glass ceiling? What glass ceiling?

Those are two examples of people who worked damn hard to get to the top, but there are others who have achieved their dreams of being a wrestler and want to do more. Whether you think he is in the job due to talent or family, one cannot deny that Triple H has gone from strength to strength since cutting off his ponytail and donning a suit. His greatest legacy in WWE may not be his in-ring work, but his drive to create and build NXT. Not everyone has the opportunity to achieve more than one dream in their lives, but there are some inspirational wrestlers who see their in-ring career as just the first step in a long line of achievable goals:

Chris Jericho – New York Times Best-Selling author, singer, songwriter, podcaster. I’ve run out of superlatives for the man. He continues to be the epitome of moving on to the next thing and being successful at it.

Mick Foley – New York Times Best-Selling author, Christmas lover. Who doesn’t love Foley?

Kurt Angle – Olympic Gold Medallist. You may have heard about that before.

Mickie James – Singer and musician, has released two albums and was inducted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame in 2017.

Dolph Ziggler – Stand-up comedian. Not to be taken lightly, Dolph has grown in this field so much that he took time out of WWE to tour.

Glenn Jacobs / Kane – Mayor of Knox County. Surprisingly, even the Devil’s Favorite Demon has a place in politics – who would have thought?

Jesse Ventura – Former Governor of Minnesota.

Chris Nowinski – Author, co-founder and executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. A pioneer in the field of research into concussion injuries.

Brock Lesnar – Former UFC Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Went there. Conquered.

Vickie Guerrero – Obtained Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Healthcare administration at age 51. It just goes to show that age is never a barrier to success.

Diamond Dallas Page – Created own Yoga brand which has helped thousands of people across the world including fellow wrestlers Scott Hall and Jake Roberts. Dedicated to the cause and enriching people’s lives. I’ve purchased DDP Yoga, and it has really helped me. I would honestly recommend it to anyone.

There are so many others I could name with familiar stories.

However you find inspiration, be it from literature, your own life experiences or emulating successful people in life, it’s fair to say that WWE and other wrestling promotions (sorry, Jericho), are full of role models. People who see their goals and work hard to achieve them. None of the above had straight paths to their achievements. Some were broke. Some were considered too small and others were ridiculed. All achieved what they set out to do. Wrestling has come a long way since the tales of drunken debauchery and this generation not only know what they have, but also how hard they worked to get there and what they need to do to grow and move onto the next level of their lives. If you need inspiration, or even a little pick-me-up, professional wrestling is a good place to start.

Here’s Mickie James’ music video for her song ‘I Don’t Give A’. Enjoy.