The Life and Times of Charlie Fatt Part 2

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 14th August 2012.

The story so far…

Somehow I’ve been roped into being a referee for a professional wrestling show in Cardiff, Wales. I’ve been given my stage name, Charlie Fatt, and have arrived at the show to officiate a “match or two.” The problem is, I don’t really know what I’m doing and I’ve just been informed that I am the only referee for the night.

It’s one hour to show time and the ring announcer has taken me aside to brief me on the referee gig. He explains that I just need to enforce the rules and count the pins as I see them. I‘m a little confused. Isn’t a professional wrestling referee’s job not to enforce the rules, or to least enforce them badly? How am I supposed to put on a good show if I don’t know the outcomes?

When I ask these questions, I’m informed that the “booker” doesn’t trust me yet and that until I prove myself, things need to stay “kayfabe”. He quickly runs me through the procedure to start the match. Check the wrestlers’ boots and behind their ears for foreign objects and call for the bell. Um, what sort of weapon can be concealed behind a wrestler’s ear? I’m never given an answer. I guess Monkey Magic kept his magic stick behind his ear…

For those of you new to wrestling, the booker is the person responsible for putting together the card for the show. They decide who wrestles whom and the outcome. For this show, the booker and promoter was veteran British grappler Andre Baker. I always found Andre to be a stern, humourless fellow who took the business very seriously.

Which brings me to kayfabe. In the wrestling world, kayfabe is the practice of portraying the events within a show as real. Everything is legit. The bad guys and the good guys really hate each other. That sort of thing. Nowadays, everyone knows that wrestling is entertainment but you’ll still never hear those in the industry openly speaking about the inner workings of the business.

Before I know it, my stage name is announced to the crowd and I’m walking through the curtains towards the ring. A few people clap. I try to look as serious as possible although I probably have a stupid grin on my face. As I climb between the ring ropes I realise that I had never stepped into a wrestling ring until that very moment.

Over the next two hours, I referee eight bouts or so. It is hard work. I’m constantly on the move, darting around the ring trying to stay out of the way of the wrestlers bounding about. The ring, although bouncy when a body slams on it, is really quite hard especially when you have to slap your hand down on it to count the pins and near falls.

I only make one major mistake during the show. When both wrestlers tumble out of the ring, I start my ten count. When the bad guy slides back in at the last second, I accidentally stop counting, and instead of calling for the bell due to a count out, I start counting from one again whilst the poor heroic grappler is forced to clumsily pretend to climb back into the ring very slowly to ensure that he loses. Oops.

OK, so it wasn’t exactly Wrestlemania but my wrestling debut was great fun. I particularly enjoyed being abused by fans for not noticing when the bad guys cheated or I missed the goodies getting a winning pin because I was “distracted”. In other words, I did a good job of portraying Charlie Fatt doing a bad job. I was hooked.

Next week: hard core wrestling, blood baths and the death of Charlie Fatt.

Published in: on October 9, 2012 at 01:10  Leave a Comment  
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