Norton: What was different was the fact that I knew I could do it. Self-doubt kept me back, but looking at it I wanted to do it so bad. I knew I couldn’t go to college right away, so I went after my dream. I also wanted to prove others wrong. Even my own parents told me I shouldn’t, nor wouldn’t, do it. Though my parents were awesome, because they still backed me. I worked hard, got through High School and searched from there. Nothing can ever be handed to you, especially this. You have to pay every due that is meant to be paid. When the chance comes, grab it. I proved people wrong, and now I live happily as what I told everyone I would be.
Lucy: I asked my followers on Twitter what they’d like to ask a wrestler-in-training/wrestler, so I’m going to be throwing in some of those questions. Here’s the first.
Twitter asks: What wrestlers did you watch growing up and what wrestler/s made you want to be a wrestler?
Norton: I watched everyone, and I do mean everyone. I’ve seen matches as far back as 1932 with Ed “The Strangler” Lewis. As far as it goes, though, Goldberg and Undertaker have always been my favorite. Goldberg gave me that feel of how to appeal to the crowd, and Undertaker is the man I studied from since I was 12. Those two men were wrestling to me and gave me a reason to really try. Also, Triple H. He has so much passion for what he does, and he showed me that no matter what you do, work hard and always earn what you get.
Lucy: When did you actually start training?
Norton: The exact date was September 20th, 2008. And as soon as I showed up, everyone saw me as that guy who would try and never come back again. Two years later, I stand here before you as a guy who has made it a long way and proved people wrong yet again.
Lucy: A lot of people will never really get to see this first stage of the wrestling business, can you give us a quick rundown of what it was like when you first started training?
Norton: At first it’s unrealistic. I stepped into the wrestling ring for the first time and did what every rookie did: bounced around and asked to run the ropes. Haha. After that it’s nerve racking. Everyone watching you fail and fail again trying to learn a move. I was slower learner than everyone else was, but you learn that failing in front of others willingly gets you a long way. That’s because they feel more comfortable failing in front of you [and] have failed before and help [you] keep your chin up to work harder. Once I learned the moves, I was able to do them like I’ve been doing them for years. Training is tough… and with all the work you put into it you sometimes feel it’s not worth it. Once you get on that first show though, and hear that crowd? It all comes together and you realize once again why you do it.
Lucy: Can you tell us a little more about ECPW and those who run it, for those who haven’t heard of it yet?
Norton: His name is Gino Caruso. He has wrestled for every major promotion there is to know. As far as I’ve heard, he’s wrestled the very first match in ECW history, wrestled for WWE and WCW and [around the] world. He’s a hard-ass, get-in-your-face kinda guy when he’s angry, but he’s also a genuine man who lived out his dream to help us live ours. He teaches you himself, and allows for a great training session to learn with others. He’s a great mentor with a mind that I pick everyday.
Twitter Asks: What move was the hardest to learn?
Norton: The hardest move I’ve seen people struggle with are two of the most simple things: being able to fall and running the ropes. Everyone thinks it’s ‘fake,’ when in reality you got 300 pound guys running at you and tackling you down. We have to learn how to fall right because if we don’t, when these guys take us down we can snap our neck or break a bone. Tucking our chin anywhere in life helps out. For example: Eddie Guerrero got in a car accident; the thing that saved his life was tucking his chin to his chest and rolling. A simple, basic wrestling technique saved a man’s life. Running the ropes is also hard because you have to have the right footwork and be able to hit them right. If you don’t, you can slip between or over, or trip over the mat and hurt yourself. Once you go from there, the moves get harder, but knowing the simple rules and safe ways of doing it, it gets easy.
I do, however, implore everyone out there listen to one string of advice I was given: never do moves you [don’t] know, even if one other person knows them.
Lucy: Growing up you did a little wrestling with your friends, after going through training and all, what do you think of ‘backyard wrestling’ now?
Norton: Almost ninety percent of us have done some sort of thing like that, but we were safe about it, [we] used trampolines. Wrestling on the ground or doing CZW type stuff (lightbulbs, staple guns, forks, screw drivers, etc.) is NOT wrestling. Yes we love blood, we love hardcore, but to do this and think you’re cool and that it’s actual wrestling is completely off. We ask you to be safe about what you do. “Don’t try this at home” is for those kind of people, giving wrestling a bad name.
We all have the dream, and we all start by watching, learning and doing. Try your best, give it all you have and more. One day, that dream can be yours. People will always ask me why and how I became a wrestler, and I tell them the same thing every time. “Because I told myself I could be.”
Lucy: Any fears or doubts after that first day?
Norton: After the first day there are always fears of not being able to continue doing it. You doubt yourself because you suck so bad at it, but as long as you got a strong mind to keep going and to really do this, you’ll be just fine. Wrestling is where the cliché really stands, being, “practice makes perfect.” It really does. Just look at Mr. Perfect!
Please check back next week for part 2 of my interview with Robert ‘the Spike’ Norton.