When I first started watching professional wrestling the gear was pretty generic. That was back when all a man needed in order to get in the ring and wrestle was a pair of boots and some black trunks. Now, a wrestler’s attire and ring gear is as important to their identity as a finishing maneuver or a catchphrase. Every match now has the ability to be viral and be seen in living color around the world so why wouldn’t you want to look the part?
But we still see cringe worthy gear pop up and one that always gets stuck in my mind was Justin Credible when the WWF used him as Aldo Montoya, the “Portuguese Man O War”. Every single bad gear list has his headgear/mask described as a jock strap and it really did look it. What a way to be remembered. Ugh.
And let’s not forget El Gigante from WCW when he made his WWE debut in 1993 as Giant Gonzalez managed by Harvey Wippleman. He grew a beard and wore a full body suit that featured airbrushed muscles with bushy hair attached (that included the crotch). Cringe.
Obviously it’s worth the effort to look like a superstar. Think about it from the promoter’s stand point. You are investing thousands into a show with venue, insurance, advertising, wrestler’s rates and more. When people show up they are coming to be entertained and transported to another world. Are your wrestlers doing that? Or do they look like someone who just rolled in off the street in some cowboy boots and dirty jeans? Do they look credible or cheap?
Trust me, I get it that wrestlers all have different body types and gimmicks but it is plain and simple lazy when a female comes to the ring in a tee-shirt over a couple of sports bras and some ratty shorts. You can play a gimmick and not look like the pride of the trailer park doing it. Have some pride and get gear that fits. You could be doing a phenomenal match and what do people remember? That your boobs were out of control or your pants were falling down.
Everyone reading just thought of someone that fit that description.
I’m not saying you need fancy gear and entrance robes. It has to make sense but gear that compliments your body and gimmick is a must. I read an article that really inspired this column and it stated:
“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art,” Oscar Wilde once wrote. But wrestlers have to do both — looking like works of art and wearing works of art — to earn their living. If the costume doesn’t fit the gimmick and the gimmick doesn’t work with that wrestler’s body, the wrestler can expect to have a short career.
So what does your gear say? Does it say amateur wrestling with your singlet? Do your plain trunks with initials or your name call back to the old Southern Wrestling style? Are you embracing your lucha heritage with your mask and gear? Or do you look like you hit Party City and are playing dress up?
Seriously, these are the questions you need to ask yourself. Too often we see guys in gear that has nothing to do with their character in ring. If you are a heel that be in colors that reflect that. Reds, black and darker colors. Hard to be hardass when you are neon and and pretty patterns. It’s a definite disconnect when you debut before fans who may have never heard of you.
You have got to be able to look and wrestle the part. Hopefully your skills talk for you but does your gear say champion or show stealer? Or does it say cheapest cost and look? Think of the big picture? Do you look legit? Or do you look like a random fan in high school gym clothes and sneakers? It’s all part of the image and mystique of wrestling.
It is a lot to consider and I hope that you talk to vets, look at what is out there and talk to gear makers. So many guys are learning to make their own gear and some of it is amazing. They even have a hashtag as they learn to sew #broswhosew so start thinking of who, what, and where you can get that new gear from. Until next time, ignite your fire, and follow your dream.
(This column first appeared on the Gorilla Position on August 14, 2019)