Bulletproofing Your Ring Psychology (so They Stop Insulting You)


An exercise to help you develop a bulletproof ring psychology so you can leave your rookie days behind.

Previously we discussed what wrestling psychology, or ring psychology, means. This is part 2.

You can read the first part here on what wrestling psychology refers to.

This post helps you differentiate yourself from the pack. By knowing yourself and your role very well, you become super convincing in your performances.

How come some wrestlers are able to portray their characters so brilliantly and receive standing ovations?

Why are others so awkward they’re unbearable to watch? And why are others derisively called spot monkeys? And how about those that are labelled Playstation guys? (Ever heard of those? A spot monkey is a type of wrestler who can perform complicated but meaningless circus routines that add no value to a story, and a Playstation guy is a video game style wrestler whose awesome move set is illogically thrown together at random.)

Showtime's ring psychology in MyPW
Showtime’s psychology means he portrays himself as a celebrity at MyPW

Visualising ring psychology through questions

It’s my philosophy that coaches don’t need to give answers. All answers already lie within you. It is a coach’s job to ask the right questions to elicit the answers and performance from you, the athlete.

My coaching technique of asking questions helps you transform into your wrestling persona. It’s a visualisation process that makes the mental experience more real, so that when it’s time to put on the show, you play your part perfectly.

Below are a few questions – reflect on them as you flesh out your character. Then you can have more clarity on the ring psychology you should bring to a match. Use the bullets as hints to guide your thinking. Consider what each answer communicates about a character.

Ask yourself, what would someone who gives this answer actually do in a fight?

Grapple MAX Guru at MyPW
How would a guy like Guru logically react in a fight scenario?

But the answer options below are only examples. Your answer should be personal and meaningful to you. The more specific you get with your responses, the more natural and deeply embedded your psychology becomes.

That’s how you create an unforgettable wrestling persona. Bulletproof, in fact. Till the audience or your nerves can’t make you break character.

Ready? Good.

What are your character’s motivations?

  • Win a championship
  • Win in an honourable manner
  • Humiliate your opponent
  • Settle a grudge after a long feud
  • Be the centre of attention

What emotion(s) defines your character?

  • Rage, or a bad temper
  • Jealousy/envy towards a babyface
  • Calmness and self-confidence
  • Respect – For the opponent, or the sport
  • Contempt – Towards the rules? Or the fans?

What is your character’s entrance music genre?

  • Rock
  • Pop
  • Gangsta rap
  • R&B
  • EDM

What is your character’s match strategy?

  • Win because of better technical skills
  • Confuse your opponent with unorthodox tactics
  • Chip away at your opponent’s limb, then submit him
  • Create a distraction and let your stable mates do the damage
  • Wait for the right moment to hit a surprise finisher outta nowhere

What frustrates your character?

  • Losing
  • Not being popular
  • Ungrateful fans
  • An opponent who cheats
  • An opponent who is better

What are your character’s transitions between moves like?

  • Keep the pressure on, no time to waste
  • Lost and confused, trying to remember spots
  • Always can squeeze in a few seconds of showboating
  • Composed and efficient like a machine
  • Expressive with increasing intensity

What does your character do when he’s got the upper hand?

  • Taunt and celebrate
  • Eyes on the prize, set up for your finisher
  • Engage the fans and build rapport
  • Attack your opponent where he’s already hurting
  • Give your opponent a chance to recover

What does your character do when he’s getting beaten?

  • Go down swinging and fighting
  • Resort to underhanded tactics
  • Feign injury to get a brief referee timeout
  • Rally the fans for support
  • Play possum and wait for an opportunity

Going deeper with ring psychology

Each of your answers above should help you think, feel, and move in a specific way. Got a better understanding of who you’re trying to portray? Do you have a better idea of how you’re different from the next wrestler who attended the same wrestling class as you? Great. Now you can go deeper.

Psychology has many layers. It’s what separates the complex characters who perform at a main event level, from the acrobatic or clueless lower card guys who don’t leave an impression.

Grapple MAX promos reflect ring psychology, Ladykiller
Your mic time should reflect a consistent ring psychology

Promos

You want to go so deep that your promos and speaking segments also reflect your psychology. Unfortunately at an indy level, most promos are absolute shit. They’re the kind of videos somebody would comment on with “well that’s 150 seconds of my life I’ll never get back.” Tragic.

Why is your character saying the things he’s saying? (Does it reflect the motivations?) How is he saying it? (Speech tempo, body language?) To whom is he speaking? (For the mark boys in the locker room to watch, or to convince the audience to buy tickets?)

Something to think about the next time you get up there to do a promo.

Social Media

An effective way to hone your ring psychology. Wrestlers of the past did not have access to this. Social media. Your social media voice is an extension of your wrestling persona. Social media is already an illusion anyway, why not use this to your advantage?

Having answered the above questions, ask yourself: How would someone who gave those responses behave online? Is there an inconsistency in your digital persona and ring persona? I’m not saying they have to be 100% the same, because they are different channels. But how are you coming across to your audience, the same people who watch you at live wrestling shows?

For example, if you want to come across as a respectable and tough competitor on the mat, but post whiny Instagram stories, think about creating a separate account for your personal issues. Don’t sabotage your chances at getting over. Otherwise the next time you Chokeslam someone, instead of impressing the audience, you remind them of the time you moaned online about being unloved.

Gross. Not buying your merch for sure!

Conclusion

Grapple MAX DJ Kal ring psychology as the Party Starter
DJ Kal is known as the Party Starter, and his wardrobe, mannerisms and entrance theme support it

That should provide you with the foundation to create the wrestling psychology or ring psychology for your character. Not an easy part of your character development. This is why we don’t even focus on this in the first few months of your training at Grapple MAX. It starts to matter only after you’ve got a good hang of the basics of wrestling.

I tell my trainees often that in wrestling, we’ve got a lotta good athletes. But not enough good actors. All this psychology stuff contributes to the acting department. Because the best wrestlers tend to be both!

Photos in this post by Najwan Noor and Calvin Alexi.

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