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Pro Wrestling and Bodybuilding: Brothers in Pain and Iron
By Stephane LaJoie, February, 2005

  • Pro Wrestling and Bodybuilding: Brothers in Pain and Iron:

    The sports of pro wrestling and bodybuilding are in a league of their own. Truly popular in North America and around the globe, both have been laughed at, not taken seriously as sports and humiliated in the media. But, the two behemoths still pulled it off by becoming the cornerstones of the American sport-entertainment culture.

    Pro wrestling and bodybuilding complete each other because they share the same goals, the same roots. The athleticism, the entertainment aspect and the dedication of the athletes involved in these two sports bare astonishing resemblance. Two worlds with bigger than life characters and Greek god bodies.

    From hardcore workouts to flexing and posing, pro wrestling and bodybuilding have more in common than any other sports. Training trough injuries, hard diet and tight schedules; those athletes are true sporting brothers, living on the end of a lightning bolt

  • Life in the gym:

    Pumping iron is a way of life for the two sports. No athletes can go the distance without weight training but pro wrestlers and bodybuilders have taken lifting to new heights.

    Both train to live a healthy life but the main focus of their professions his to look good and muscular. Bodybuilders are making a career at looking the most muscular and cut possible. Pro wrestler on their side, must look big in the ring to create the larger than life aura that made the pro wrestling industry famous and marketable.

    Most professional wrestlers have started their journey to the ring by lifting weights in the gym. WWE superstars like Rene Dupree, John Cena, Batista and Triple H have been contestants in regional/national bodybuilding contest before entering the squared circle.

    In a special edition of the WWE magazine published in December 2001, RAW World Heavyweight champion Triple H explains his view on the importance of bodybuilding for pro wrestlers: “The gym is definitely a sanctuary for me when I’m on the road. I can’t imagine not going to the gym - it’s part of the wrestling business to be in the best shape you can.”

    Pro wrestlers and bodybuilders don’t train for countless hours in the gym simply because it’s a part of their job, they do it because it’s a passion. The love for the sport of bodybuilding has helped the athletes to surpass roadblocks ( injuries, lousy paychecks and rankings) and become even more successful at what they do.

  • Are you ready for some entertainment?:

    In 2004, the bodybuilding industry has become more and more like pro wrestling in term of entertainment value. The implantation of the challenge round at the Mr. Olympia, the trash talking during press conferences and the internet war or words between competitors have skyrocketed the entertainment aspect of bodybuilding to new heights.

    Nobody knows when King Kamali or Lee Priest will go berserk and trash the bodybuilding community and give the IFBB a piece of their mind. At each contest, the IFBB and NPC judging rules are under attack by the athletes and the fans. The judges are now the heels (bad guy) and the bodybuilders the babyfaces.

    Like pro wrestling, the clash of sizes in every IFBB contest now steals the show. Will the little guy with an aesthetic body finally beat the 290 pounds muscle freak? Each “clan” have his legion of fans and the battle in raging as much in the stands than on stage.

    Now, let’s put some of those fiery rivalry to good use. The brand new challenge round is like a classic wrestling match. The warriors are announced, egos are banging, buffed bodies are fighting for the spotlight and nobody’s spot is safe. Jay Cutler said prior to the Olympia that the new round was “going to add a lot of entertainment value to the show”.

  • The dedication:

    Beyond the entertainment, the magazine covers and the oiled bodies on stage and in the ring, Bodybuilders and pro wrestlers share a dedication to their training regimen that no other sports can match. Unlike other disciplines, pro wrestlers and bodybuilders live their sports 24/7, all year long with very few rest periods.

    The so-called off-season in bodybuilding might be less strenuous on the diet side, but in the gym, the finesse exercises are swept away by the return of heavy lifting and hardcore workouts. Bodybuilders go on a muscle mass building odyssey until their next pre-contest phase. There is no place for extended golf practice ala NHL hockey players. The off-season is crucial to the development of the bodybuilder’s body and even more for his career.

    In pro wrestling, the show must go on all year long. Wrestlers spend most of their time on the road, in a different city every night. Keeping a good training regimen in such conditions is a tough task. Sleep hours are cut, workout sessions are rushed and because of the aggressiveness of the sport, recuperation and rest are not sufficient.

    That’s where the importance of weight training comes into play. Triple H knows more than anybody that to prevent injuries and battle the inevitable, you have to be prepared. “I’m a big believer in consistency, because your body thrives on it. Be consistent with your workout.”

    So, bodybuilders and pro wrestlers must thrive for a near perfect work ethic. There’s no place for errors or shortcuts in theses two industries. Lack of confidence and direction can only result in injuries. Being complaisant and lazy can also destroy a career in no time. Pro wrestling and bodybuilding are very competitive and there are no guarantees for stardom.

    But these two sports are really about pushing the envelope and being the best that you can be. Sure, there’s only one World Champion and one Mr. Olympia. But in their hearts, bodybuilders and pro wrestlers are all true champions.

    Bottom line, the two business have the same demand at the end: Highly trained athletes with off the chart bodies than can deliver big time on stage. Between the pain and the honors, there’s a complex way of life, full of sacrifices and joy, that needs the be backed up by tireless dedication from the athletes and their entourage. That’s why pro wrestling and bodybuilding, in this day and age, are truly brothers in pain and iron.

  • Stephane Lajoie is an up and coming sport journalist with a true passion for the sports of professional wrestling and bodybuilding. He graduated from the Université du Quebec à Montreal (UQAM) in August 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in communication/journalism. He can be contacted at: