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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Art Of The Limp Wrist Wrestling Handshake
October 5, 2005 by Pete Cruise


Last night was supposed to be a night of glory. Not only because it was the first night being back in an independent wrestling ring, but also because it was the night I was to meet The Honky Tonk Man.

A legend in professional wrestling, The Honky Tonk Man held the WWF Intercontinental Championship for fourteen months before dropping it to the Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam in 1988. I knew all of this going in and I was expecting the experience of a lifetime. The main reason I was so excited was because if I sold 20-plus tickets to the show, not only would I be a part of the show , but I would referee the main event between "Streetfighter" Tim Flowers and The Honky Tonk Man.

Four o' clock comes around and I arrive at the building and see all the same guys I did two years ago. The next to arrive would be Honky himself. He started closing all the doors because he started complaining that it was too cold up here. Then started calling the East Indian Wrestlers "Pac Men". Finally handshakes all around. When he came to me, I said, "Nice to meet you sir" then stuck out my hand. What I got in return however was silence and him shaking my hand in the most feminine and awkward way I have ever shook hands with anyone in my life.

I got to thinking to myself. Why would anyone on earth shake someone's hand like that" I was under the assumption that an aggressive and tight gripped handshake showed confidence and reliability and above all else, showed that you were a man. To say the least, I was confused. The promoter Tim Flowers showed up at the building soon thereafter. I again, got the pleasantries out of the way and shook his hand too. SAME thing! Limp Wrist Handshake. By this time I was thinking, there has to be a reason that two veterans are doing this.

After about three hours and while driving home, I realized the secret to The Limp Wrist Handshake that the wrestlers pass out like candy. The Handshake is a way of saying "HI!" and "Thank you" after a match. It is also a way to show that they are better then you and to show that they think they are above you. A firm handshake shows respect, dignity and integrity. If that's the case with a firm handshake then a Limp Wrist Wrestling Handshake must mean that the person giving the limp wrist thinks you are beneath him, and doesn't think much of you.

I have been out of the business now for about 3 years and after last night I really don't have any desire to try and get back in. I believe in equality and I believe in treating Men like Men and letting ego's sit at the door. I thought to myself as I laid down to sleep last night: Would these people shake their father in-law's hand like that""" Would these people shake a potential boss' hand like that" Of course not. It is a show of respect. So why would they shake anyone else's hand like that"

I'm going to close with just a simple request to any independent wrestling promoters/workers or legends out there reading this. We respect what you went through to get where you are today. We have heard the tales and can only imagine what you went through to get to the status of respect that you have earned today. We also respect your presence in the ring. To be a professional wrestler in this day in age and continue to entertain crowds with the same gimmick for years is hard to do. The legends that can continue to go out there and perform and have a crowd in the palm of their hands, I say thank you! I also say, Get A Life and start respecting the kids and young adults that are going to be the rising stars of this business. Start realizing that you are on the way down , and they are on the way up and when Respect is earned, it is given. If you try and beat us into respecting you, we won't do anything but resent you and any legacy that you may have paved over 27 years. Finally, realize that holding a title isn't really an accomplishment. The real test of ones self is seeing if you can work through all the corporate bullshit that tells you to treat newcomers into the business like crap. If you can break that rule and give a firm, confident and aggressive handshake to a newcomer that breaks into the business, you're a legend in my books.

by Pete Cruise ..


Richard Merritt wrote:
I read the article on the limp hand shaking and the person writing this was totally wrong in his assumption. The reason why workers shake each others hand at a limp state is to show you they are not stiff. I have been working and promoting since 1992 and have worked with many legends from Greg Valentine, Hercules, and Cuban Assassin. I have become really good friends with some of them and they all shake their hands the same way. Back in the day when a worker greeted another worker, the handshake was to determine if he was in for a easy night or a long night. There was no disrespect and if you would have shook his hand with a stiff handshake, he would have felt disrespected. On the circuit today, most workers shake hands with a limp way of doing things. I for one do it still and have the up most respect for all the workers I promote and work with.
-Lynch wrote:
Well, being an actual worker trained by Killer Kowalski, that type of handshake is to signal that you are aware of the business and kayfabe. Back before Vince let the cat out of the bag 10 years ago, you had to know who was in and who was a mark, simply to protect the business, since it's made it's life on kayfabe. Yes it's probably irrelevant now, but that is at the discretion of the old schoolers you meet. So maybe instead of writing a 7 paragraph complaint about it, you could have just asked them.
jordie wrote:
I think you are a whiny idiot. "wah wah wah the honky tonk man gave me a dissatisfactory handshake. im a big blubbering puss who thinks the world owes me something" get off your high horse. thats such a stupid ass thing to care about, especially enough to write a column about. how in the hell does a firm handshake define manhood" i was pretty sure that my y chromosome and male genitalia had that job covered. handshakes are the dumbest tradition anyway. why do you think we have high fives and fist locks and more laid back stuff like that" the answer is because they are superior alternatives. i dont shake SHIT for anybody. maybe you should keep your stupid hands to yourself! can you dig it!" SUCKAAA!
Stylin' Brian wrote:
I've been checking out this site for a while now. I love every column I read about different people's opinions. I must say though this is the only column that I've ever read that I wondered why it ever got posted. I wasn't in the business long, but I was trained to respect everyone I met. I feel like I am breaking a code of wrestling ethics here but if our friend Pete is unaware why they shake like that. It is obvious that he is a mark. This doesn't need to be posted in a response to his letter. Just that I know you guys are around the business long enough to know why I say this. But the guys who trained me were very, very old school. And that was the first thing I was taught. So for him to disrespect someone in the business like honky tonk man, tim flowers or anyone else. I am more than a little appalled that it was posted. I'm just glad that he only refereed this match and nothing else. You know as well as I do what happens to marks in the business.
"IronBull" Dave Boddy wrote:
whoa whoa whoa whoa!! why does this guy babble on as if he knows what he is talking about" he obviously does not know a wristlock from a wristwatch!! I have been in wrestling since January 22/05 and the first thinkg i learned was the "handshake of meaning"..and know it is not a lack of testicular fortitude, or respect, but of a sign of great respect, and a sign that your opposition knows what he is doing. I was trained first by MPW (edmonton alberta Canada) and then Bad News Allen here in Calgary, and am being transferred to Lance Storm in one year as i am off due to shoulder surgery. But seriously this guy is babbling on as if he knows something....when we look at him knowing he knows nothing....he knows as much about the hidden facts and gestures in wrestling...as Elton John knows about pleasing a woman!! jeesh.....i believe that is enough said...no wait!! cancel that!! hey sonny-boy who wrote this...why not find the facts...then relax..and then offer ya feedback wiseone!! jeesh.
Jesse Lee wrote:
So... he's mad because someone didn't shake his hand the right way... huh" What's the point of this article that some dude obviously wanting another dude to shake their hand "in firm, agressive way." Calm down, man. You tell the veterans to get a life, how about you get a life and stop worrying about a freaking handshake.
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