Growing up, Don and I were huge fans of professional wrestling. We would watch our idols like The Rock with his electrifying personality, monsters like the Undertaker with his deathly moves, and high-flyers like Rey Mysterio with his athleticism.
As we entered adulthood, our love for pro-wrestling never waned, even when the childhood heroes we grew up watching began wrestling less frequently due to age. Or worst, becoming movie stars.
We wondered, if we could ever experience something similar to the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) or All Elite Wrestling (AEW) in Singapore? A quick Google search brought us to the Singapore Pro Wrestling’s (SPW) website. After a brief email correspondence, we were on our road to becoming professional wrestlers in Singapore.
The wrestling classes were held in a small space in Goldpine Industrial Building in Joo Seng, and it was a cosy space—it only consisted of one ring and some gym equipment.
We changed into our sports attire, and our lesson was underway. Our coaches were Singapore’s finest wrestlers—“The Statement” Andruew Tang himself, and Aiden Rex.
Andruew has been wrestling for seven years and has made a name for himself as Singapore’s first-ever professional wrestler. Aiden, on the other hand, has been in the squared circle for five years and is Singapore’s number one ‘high-flyer’. A ‘high-flyer’ is a term used to describe a wrestler who utilises speed and acrobatics in the ring rather than strength and power.
Just like any other sport, professional wrestling requires a warm-up. However, what I did not expect was how crazy this warm-up was, even for a gym goer like myself.
We were shocked when the first thing we heard was “OK, let’s start with 100 squats”. It sounded achievable, but by the time we hit our 70th repetition, we were already panting from exhaustion.
The next warm-up was decline push-ups from the ropes in the ring. We did 30 push-ups from the bottom rope, 20 from the middle, and 10 from the top. This was also quite tiring, and I struggled to finish the 60 repetitions.
Finally, we had to pair up and do 50 leg raises each. This wasn’t too bad as it was an exercise that I did regularly.
While I was nearly out of gas for the next segment, Andruew told me that what we did was a watered-down version of their usual training warm-up. It was a glimpse at how difficult it was to become a professional wrestler.
We then had to do three different kinds of rolls—forward rolls, backward rolls, and three-quarter rolls. Rolling is quintessential to wrestling, and many times, wrestlers have to manoeuvre around the ring through rolls.
To execute the forward roll, I had to squat as low as I could, tuck my chin in and used my toes and fingertips to push myself forward. This was simple; however, I had trouble aligning my body straight and would always veer slightly to the side. Because of this, Andruew made me do this move a few times over until I could perform a decent one.
The next roll was the backward roll. This required me to do the same thing as before, only backwards. I struggled with the same problem, and once again, had to repeat the rolls until I had the correct form.
The last roll was the three-quarter roll, which we struggled with the most. To execute this, you have to place a foot forward and align your arm. You then throw yourself forward and roll on your shoulder. I went off-course too many times, and despite multiple attempts, I simply could not push forward. Andruew and Aiden had to give us numerous demonstrations to help us correct our form.
Running ropes is another thing that is crucial to professional wrestling. It involves running towards the ropes, then turning and springing yourself in the other direction. Professional wrestlers do this to give themselves the momentum to carry out devastating moves on their opponents.
This activity was quite fun, but it requires some motor skills so that your feet do not get tangled in the process. It was challenging at first, but once I got the hang of it, I was practically bouncing off the ropes like a pinball.
We proceeded to do the lock-up, which was basically the starting grapple. Both wrestlers would grip each other on their neck with the left hand, and seize the elbow with their right. When done right, this move looks impressive, as if the two wrestlers are grappling each other ferociously when, in fact, little force is exerted.
This will then transition to a wristlock, where one wrestler will seemingly twist the wrist of the other. It is the job of the wrestler who is receiving the move to ‘sell’ it—to make it look like it hurts.
We then had to do a ‘reversal’ for this move, which is essentially spinning around and reversing the move onto the giver. While this may look easy, performing it requires a lot of coordination between the two wrestlers. It was only after about fifteen minutes of tussling that Don and I could execute the move passably.
Bumps are essential for a wrestler to master because, for every single wrestling match, there will be bumping. Bumps are the term for falls onto the mat, and throughout any match, wrestlers have to take many bumps. If the wrestler lands wrongly, he could risk serious injury, which is why it is vital to master this move.
We started from a seated position. This was relatively easy as all we had to do was to tuck in our chins, throw our backs down and spread our arms open to hit the mat palms down. The sound that followed was a very satisfying thud.
We then moved on to a squatting position. This time, both my hands had to be held close to each other on the second rope, and my feet had to be planted on the mat in a squatting position. Like the seated position, I had to throw my back down and spread my arms open. The only difference was that my feet were to remain planted on the mat. This was slightly challenging, and in my initial attempts, I struggled to keep my feet on the mat.
The final challenge was, of course, to perform the bump standing up. This was the most challenging bump as I lacked the confidence to fall backwards, standing up. Andruew had to guide me through the process, and I must say that his guidance gave me the much-needed confidence I needed to throw myself back.
While falling in the ring is generally less painful than falling onto any hard surface, it will start to hurt when doing it for a prolonged duration. I cannot comprehend how professional wrestlers make taking bumps look like a piece of cake.
As we were inexperienced newbies who could not even perform a bump correctly, we could not do any fancy moves which many professional wrestlers do on screen. Nevertheless, we were treated to a show by Aiden Rex, who sprang around the rings and performed backflips like a spider monkey. It was indeed a feast for the eyes.
While we struggled to do even the most basic moves of wrestling, both Andruew’s and Aiden’s experience showed even when they were simply demonstrating the fundamentals. While demonstrating the lock-up, both wrestlers showed aggression as though they were in a real wrestling match. It was a sight to behold.
Wrestling fan or not, I would recommend that you take up a wrestling class with SPW. While you may not be doing fancy moves on your first few lessons, you are guaranteed a good workout. Even if you feel that you are physically unfit, fret not as the coaches will scale the training down to match your physical ability. The coaches are also dedicated to ensuring you perform every move perfectly.
The training with SPW made me realise that the road to becoming a professional wrestler is not easy and requires a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. We only took bumps for twenty minutes, and our backs were already sore the next day. Could you imagine taking bumps regularly like these wrestlers?
Singapore’s wrestling scene may not be well-known, but you cannot say that these home-grown wrestlers are not as skilled as the ones you see on television. Through my one and a half session with Andruew and Aiden, I gained even more respect for professional wrestlers and a newfound appreciation for those training and performing in Singapore.
While they possess the same athleticism and technical skills as those in America or Japan, these hard-working men and women do not get as much support here. I would love to witness the day when one of them join the ranks of WWE or AEW so that we Singaporeans can finally be proud of our professional wrestling scene.
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