Who doesn’t love a good set of strictly adhered to rules? Am I right? Regardless of what you do in life, there is someone to make sure you obey the laws of the land. As a referee with EPW, it is my job to make sure the skilled wrestlers we have in the ring stick to the rules of wrestling, and if (or more often than not, when) they break them, admonish them.
The main part of my job is making sure that rules are not broken, and with that is a knowledge of the rules. A large part of knowing these rules is from being a massive wrestling fan. Another is having some of the best referees in Australia teaching me along the way, and as it happens we have some of them right here at EPW. There are times when the rules are open to interpretation and it is at my discretion on what I do with what I am seeing in the ring. With tag team action, there has to be a bit of leniency to ensure the match is free flowing, but most of the time wrestlers will do all they can to have a double team advantage.
Given the tendency for cheating from certain individuals and teams, it is very important to know the competitors you are officiating. If I have Gorgeous Gary and Alex Kingston in there for example, neither has a knack for gaining a cheap advantage so I can let the match flow more than if I was refereeing Gavin McGavin vs Damian Slater. Not to say we are to be biased towards these individuals, but we have seen enough of the wrestlers to know what we are to look out for.
Of course, you do get the odd pull of the hair or rake of the eyes that we miss. Given we are only human and we all make a mistake every now and again, we would hope that the fans would understand this. This isn’t the case as most reading this know. Someone who continues to break these rules can get increasingly frustrating, both for the fans and for me as a referee. You hear the crowd grow in anger, and you’re buzzing around like a bee trying to find what has got them so worked up. More often than not, this works in the perpetrators favour as the can see us looking and release their illegal hold. As has happened in the past though I have had to get physically involved and break up the manoeuvre with what force I have.
Now I know what you’re wondering, does it hurt when we get cleared out. Be it a boot that has been ducked and catches us on the jaw, a chair shot gone astray, or a wrestler who doesn’t like what we are telling them; the answer to all is yes. These are big guys and strong women who are trying to win a wrestling match. They give it their all and when it connects with someone who hasn’t been training day in and day out, it is a killer. I’ve heard fans after wonder why we stay down for so long. And to that I say let’s see you get up quickly after having The Don punch you square in the mouth. That one sucked the most I have to admit.
You do get your scary moments as well. Injuries can happen at any time and I am thankful to have a first aid certificate so if, heaven forbid, anything were to occur, I am trained and can get the performer out of harms way and get the medical attention they need. This is a lot more common than you would think. You’ll often see me go down to a wrestler, this is to check on them and get them to respond to me, if I don’t get a response I will be backing their opponent up and following the first aid steps to ensure their safety. Concussions, dislocated knees and shoulders, broken noses, breathing problems, we see as much as an emergency department in between the ropes.
On the point of scary moments, you do not know fear until you are inches from Jimmy Havoc and he flips you off. Genuinely, one of the scariest incidents not only in wrestling, but in my entire life.
Despite all that I’ve said about the supposed downfalls of being a referee, being in there with some of the best talents in the world is a truly tremendous position. I would not change any of it for anything. Having been involved with EPW for just over 4 years, I can honestly say that along with being the longest tenure I’ve ever had for a job, it is also the best.
Here is to many more ‘accidental’ punches in the mouth.