Crave the physicality of sports, but just wish you had more opportunity to wear flamboyant spandex, trash talk fellow athletes and be the superstar you always knew you were in your heart of hearts?
Try professional wrestling on for size. There are a number of small federations across the state on the lookout for the next great superstar.
The Associated Wrestling For United Legacy, A.W.F.U.L. for short, debuts Friday and is billed as the athlete's wrestling federation. Andrew Willingham, who is in charge of talent relations and creative development for A.W.F.U.L., said he is looking for veterans and newcomers alike who have the look, strength and agility of top-level wrestlers.
"A.W.F.U.L. has pretty much the best looking roster," Willingham boasted. "The guys we get are in pretty good shape. Some independent wrestling promotions don't have anyone who could make it in the big time, but we have several who could easily make it on one of the TV shows."
A.W.F.U.L. is opting to focus more on athletic wrestlers of the Rey Mysterio and Jimmy "Superfly" Snucka variety rather than Hulk Hogan types who are all charisma and no technical skills. Willingham wants A.W.F.U.L. to be a portal for regional wrestlers to get access to bigger opportunities in the industry, but to do that they need a roster strong enough to lure talent scouts.
"It is more intense wrestling then what you will get at a lot of other federations out there," wrestler Max McGuirk said. "The owners of A.W.F.U.L. Pro Wrestling are handpicking the best wrestlers in the state and putting them on their freshest day, Friday."
McGuirk is one of A.W.F.U.L.'s more promising prospects, benefiting from a family legacy in wrestling. His grandfather is one of the great Oklahoma wrestlers, LeRoy McGuirk, and his mother is former World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) announcer, Michelle "Mike" McGuirk. Max grew up as an amateur wrestler and said there is more impact in professional wrestling, as well as a greater need to be aware of everything going on around him.
"You have to try to listen as much as you can, there is just so much going on that you have to really pay attention to the other wrestlers you are in there with because otherwise you can easily get injured," McGuirk said. "You have to be able to look good for the crowd; if you are skin and bones, they aren't going to believe you."
Because of the theatrical elements of wrestling, there is no downtime during a match. Willingham said that wrestlers can't afford to get winded during a match because that would slow down the show. To combat fatigue, A.W.F.U.L. emphasizes cardio during workouts.
"To be a wrestler, you just have to be in able shape; but to be a good one, a successful one, you have to be in very athletic shape," Willingham said. "The better shape you are in, the more athletic you will be, the less you'll get winded and the more marketable you are as far as your look."
McGuirk recalled a conversation he had with Mike DiBiasi, son of "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiasi. He said the younger DiBiasi said that, beyond the family legacy and dazzling finishing moves, it was the look and charisma of a wrestler that gave him a chance to move to the next level. McGuirk has been steadily toning his body and sharpening his mat and microphone skills for when he finally gets a tryout for an upper-level federation.
"Mike told me you only get one first impression, so if you make a fool of yourself, that was your one and only shot," McGuirk said. "Your body and your charisma are the main things that carry a wrestler; if you don't have that, then no one will buy you as a wrestler."
Willingham sees more than just fans trying out for A.W.F.U.L., but also football players, amateur wrestlers and other ex-athletes wanting to keep active and take another shot at the big time. There are even some who do it for the love of wrestling, like having an excuse to hit the gym daily and the free reign to declare themselves the "world's greatest" anything on a weekly basis.
But wrestling still isn't a sport for everybody, Willingham warned. A mere mortal cannot be chiseled into a superstar without first possessing two key ingredients: intense desire and an abnormal tolerance of pain.
"Wrestling hurts " it hurts a lot " and if you have a low tolerance for pain, wrestling is not for you," Willingham said. "You have to really want to be in this sport because nine times out of 10, you won't make any money doing it. You need a lot of drive, a lot of heart and not to mind quite a bit of pain and waking up sore in the morning. "Charles Martin