Tales From the Boot Camp #1
February 1, 2005 by Brian Bertrand

The following column talks about the mental and physical training at the number one professional wrestling training facility in the country, APW Boot Camp. The views expressed in the following column do not reflect those of All Pro Wrestling or

Have you ever had that dream? Have you ever wanted to step into a wrestling ring and learn what it takes to become a professional wrestler? Many people have through the years. The Rock had it since his father and grandfather wrestled, Hulk Hogan after many trials and tribulations, Mick Foley from Dominic Denucci, Stone Cold from Chris Adams, and many many more through the years. I am one of those people. I found All Pro Wrestling

January 8, 2005: The Orientation - The 8th started off on a really good foot. I shook hands with the whole roster and got to know whom I was going to be working with for the Gym Wars events. Once we all sat down and got our food, Roland Alexander, owner of All Pro Wrestling, called order and started off with a nice speech about the history and gave an introduction on what we're going to be looking at in the future. Once that was done it was Jason Deadrich's, co-owner and webmaster, turn and he gave me some inspiration for the multimedia aspect. Next was time for Gabriel Ramirez, commissioner of APW, who is a personal favorite because if I talk to him about computers he knows EXACTLY what I'm saying. After all the speeches, we got up and got ready for the hottest show this site of Stamford, CT, Gym Wars. Pretty much my job is to pull the video cable behind Chris, the roaming cameraman. Chris is cool and becomes two different people, the guy off camera is really cool. He reminds me of a friend my sister knew back in high school. But when the camera rolls he, understandably, becomes an asshole but he already warned me about it so I'm not too mad about it. I think it's better because it gets me going. Our trainer for the Boot Camp is Orlando "Killer J" Mathias. He's a really cool guy and he lets everyone know the risks and the rewards it takes to make it in the business. Jason and I met him in August and he really made us feel that this was the place to be for us, that APW was where we wanted to go.

January 10, 2005: First Day of Training - Simple time actually, I wouldn't call it training. All we did was take down the ring, learn about it's slightly disturbing structure and put it back up, still learning as we went along.

January 12, 2005: Learning the Ropes...Literally - Cardio started today, I was warn out before climbing in the ring for the first time. But I wasn't going to be deterred. We learned running the ropes and let me tell you, it's harder than anyone thinks. But once you get going it becomes a lot easier to do. You just gradually get faster. To add insult to injury later we had to do more cardio and I still was bad from earlier in the class but I didn't care, as long as I'm able to last. I hoped the next week would be pretty good.

January 21, 2005: Making Up Lost Time - I told Killer J that I wouldn't be able to come on Monday and he understood. I was stuck at home, which was like 80+ miles away plus I forgot my work out stuff at home so I was a little agitated. But I did buy my wrestling boots today and once I got back I grabbed my pair of sweats and went with Jason to the gym. I practiced running the ropes, which I needed to speed up on, and Jason taught me the forward rolls, shoulder rolls, and even the diving forward rolls. I banged up my legs a little bit but I didn't care. I made up what I needed to learn and was ready for the next lesson...or so I thought.

January 24, 2005: Day of Reckoning - This was where it was time to weed out the weak from the strong as James Watkins, former APW Universal Champion and Internet Champion plus the semi-pro coach came in and did some of the cardio. I had to start the mile late because my stupid ass forgot to change shoes before J came out. But I got it done and I still kept going. The 20-20's just about killed me but that was before the wind sprints. My inhaler got a serious workout after the first set of wind sprints. The whole day was about cardio. Cardio, cardio, cardio! I pushed myself until I damn near had a heart attack. I couldn't tell them though. I didn't want them to think I was weak. Maybe Wednesday I can at least watch them train so I know what to look for and what I can work on. But I still owe everyone 40 minutes of cardio each (4 hours all together) that I can work on starting Thursday. I just think that I lacked what they expected from me. What gave me more confidence in myself was when James said that I at least made an effort to go as far as I did. Once I couldn't go anymore I hobbled to the weight room and sat on the bench press. J came in and told me that he was surprised that I made it to the bench because he told me that when he trained he just collapsed to the walkway before Robert Thompson came up and gave him a pep talk. But him and James were proud of the effort I gave even though I owe everyone 4 hours of cardio. Thankfully, I can work more in the ring and get those for hours in tomorrow and through the weekend before the show in Bakersfield. If not then I can still get it done before Monday's class.

January 26, 2005 - Today was actually a good day. Of course I couldn't get the mile the way I wanted it but at least J drove out half way down and finished up half way down with me since I was lagging. Remember that I only had a day and a half to heal up from the hell I went through on Monday. I was surprised that I was able to walk after this. J's encouragement was really gratifying. I'm in his debt. I'm also glad that we didn't do the wind sprints to where we did those damned bear-crawls. I wouldn't be walking at all if we did that. After the cardio we went right into the ring and practiced our rolls. My forward rolls and right shoulder rolls weren't bad but the diving forward rolls, left shoulder rolls, and handstand rolls need a little work but nothing I can't fix in the later days of training. Next was our first bumps, starting with the face bump. I'm glad that I had some prior Judo knowledge on face falls or else I would have messed it up entirely. Slight arm misplacement but I think I got it down. Next was handstand bumps. God, those were fun. I haven't done handstands in a while but once I started them up again I knew it wasn't going to look right. I kind of rolled out of it. The next one was the handspring beels (also called baby-beels). Again, fun thing to learn. I did these back in the good old Judo days but instead of stacks of mats it was a volunteer. The first time I did it, it looked and felt pretty sweet. The other big guy before me psyched himself out but when I did it he was like, "Damn, now that he did it why the hell am I scared of doing it?" The funniest thing after that was that when I did it again I kept clipping my knee on the volunteer's side. It only happened twice but I hope to get that fixed down the line.

January 29, 2005 - On The Road: APW Gym Wars hits the road and my dad and I had a lot of fun. I had my first night on security and my feet hurt a lot so I had to rotate a few times. The beginning of Gym Wars started off with a 20-man battle royal. Before anyone made their entrances, someone tried to go through the entrance tunnel to the bathrooms, which had more than one entrance. I asked the guy if he could wait until the entrances were over and I guess he ignored me. Then Shane, the ring announcer, said there was a better entrance to the bathroom and all of a sudden the guy attacked him. It scared the hell out of the staff and I. He got through announcing the wrestlers and the match started. One of the referees asked me where Shane was but I didn't see what happened behind the curtain. After the Puma vs. Melissa match, Melissa got hurt. One of the staff people told me to go help in the ring. When Puma attacked after the match I was yelled at to get out of the ring. Both my dad and I thought that, somehow, I did something wrong. I'm still a confused on why I got yelled at if I was just doing my job. I'm sure it was nothing. My favorite match was Dana Lee vs. Kid Omega. They kept the crowd popped with funny slow motion wrestling (yes, slow motion wrestling because Omega said he was tired and wanted to go slow). They also had a part in the match where they matched each other's moves. It was one funny match.

Not bad for the first month, right guys? February is sure to be a whole new month in the APW and I'm going to try my hardest learn more of what it takes to be a pro wrestler.

by Brian Bertrand..







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