Chapter 20: The Conga Line Streak is Broken
This has been a test of the Notorious Notes emergency response system. Had there been an actual emergency, you probably never would have heard from me again. We now return to your regularly scheduled Notorious Notes. The Conga Line Streak is Broken.
As some (probably actually none) of you may have noticed, my bi-weekly blog was due to come out last week but I unfortunately missed my deadline. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I decided to take an extra week off between chapters of this here blog in order to make a big return only a week later. That’s not true. I just got busy with school and doing WWE extra talent work for their tour of the Pacific Northwest. This time around I had the chance to do Smackdown in Vancouver, BC, NXT TakeOver in Portland, OR, and RAW in Everett, WA.
If you looked hard enough and truly believed in magic, you may have even spotted me having a delightful Valentine’s Day dinner while Otis Dozivic had his heart ripped out over the course of a 30 second silent movie that snuck its way onto Smackdown.
Heads up, we’re taking that artistic vision on the festival circuit this year, but we’re making it full black and white. Anyway, aside from getting me off the hook for the lover’s holiday this year and allowing me to eat three times my bodyweight in catering all three days, not much else of note occurred during my time at WWE this year. But it is always an honor to be allowed to see the inner workings of the massive machine that just keeps rolling and growing.
Now that my weekend with the WWE has come to an end, I am free to 1) work on getting over this cold that I seem to have developed — probably from all the stress, and 2) get back into the groove of everyday life. For me that “groove” includes writing this dang blog, so I will be using it as the platform for me to talk through my thoughts and feelings coming out of the weekend, and you’re just along for the ride. When this is all said and done, maybe we’ll all learn a little something.
One big takeaway I have from my five total ventures as WWE extra talent is that it is EXTREMELY STRESSFUL.
As an independent professional wrestler with anxiety, I can confirm that working with/for the biggest wrestling company in the world can indeed be very mentally and physically taxing. There’s a lot of factors that lead into that stress; the travel, the accommodations, the planning, and the uncertainty associated with it are some of the bigger ones. And as I mentioned earlier, even though I didn’t do anything physically taxing this time around, I am feeling the physical effects of the stress because my (already very weak) immune system had been weakened enough to lose to the common cold.
After doing the hard, stressful thing four previous times, I was prepared for the stress walking into it. I knew that I would be anxious and I knew that I would lose sleep and I made as many preparations as I could for that. Something I’ve learned just living life with anxiety is that the feeling of being anxious will never go away, but being prepared for that feeling and learning how to cope with it when it happens will make living with it easier. Much like with many other forms of mental illness, we don’t learn how to treat it — rather we arm ourselves with tools to help us cope.
The first time I did extra work back in 2017, the late, great Buddy Wayne taught me to “act like you belong and don’t be a goof,” and I will always strive to uphold that standard. I pride myself on acting like a professional while in professional settings, both inside and outside the wrestling world. And while I may act like I belong on the outside, I am often screaming from anxiety on the inside.
Not knowing I had anxiety for a good couple of decades gave me the ability to compartmentalize the anxiety.
I’m feeling in the moment and process it later when I have time. That’s obviously not the healthiest way to deal with any mental illness symptom , but it is a good survival technique when put in positions like this — and in doing the dang thing five times in three years, I got my reps in and it became easier. It is still stressful, but I can walk in pretty confidently, knowing generally what will happen and being as prepared as possible.
Before I sign off, I feel I need to make some clarifications. All this talk about the stress and anxiety I feel when doing extra work might make it seem like I don’t enjoy it, and that is very incorrect. Yes, sometimes in the weeks leading up to it when I’m getting physicals and blood work done, reserving hotel rooms, and making arrangements for my cat, I may feel a bit of dread.
However, I think the lesson I want to instill here is that the hard, scary, anxiety-inducing things can totally be worth it. I always enjoy my time with WWE — I enjoy seeing how the machine works, and it always affords me invaluable experience and lessons that I can use in the future both in and out of wrestling at The Conga Line Streak is Broken.
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