Image Credit: WWE 2K19, via Xbox Share.
The following article highlights the issue of mental health, and how watching professional wrestling has helped me manage it. Drawing from my own personal experiences, I will discuss in this article how professional wrestling has helped me manage my mental health when I was injured in the spring of 2019. Prior to my 2019 absence from work, professional wrestling has always been a form of entertainment in my life. However, during the time of my injury professional wrestling played a major role in forgetting that my life was essentially “paused” in comparison to everything around me.
*This article was originally published April 25, 2020*
I have been a professional wrestling fan since 2003, and I remember watching Monday Night Raw during the time Triple H was in the midst of his “reign of terror”, as fans of professional wrestling often call it. Although I enjoy the entertainment aspect of professional wrestling, watching promotions such as World Wrestling Entertainment, All Elite Wrestling, and Major League Wrestling, I did not realize the profound impact it had on my mental health until 2019. In April of 2019, I was forced to take a leave of absence from my job because I had suffered a broken ankle and two torn ligaments. This resulted in a two month period in which I was non-weight baring, and unable to return to work until the middle of June. Considering that I had never experienced something like this before, I turned further attention to professional wrestling as a means of distracting myself from the reality I was facing. I suffered my injury on April 10, 2019 which was three days after the thirty-fifth edition of WrestleMania, also informally known as “KofiMania”. Consequently, Kofi Kingston’s breaking of the proverbial “glass ceiling” played a major role in my ability to overcome intense anxiety experienced from my absence from work and mundane life as a whole.
Sports and Managing Anxiety:
In 2020, all of us are experiencing similar bouts of mental health issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic However, watching sports (specifically professional wrestling), allows us to manage symptoms of anxiety and depression within a general context. Although not all of us play recreational sports, the act of watching sports has profound benefits for managing our own symptoms of anxiety and depression:
We all know that sports are very beneficial to our physical health. Unfortunately, some of us prefer sitting on the couch watching our favorite team playing the game, instead of engaging in physical activity ourselves. Something like this is entirely normal, as not all of us have enough time to do sports on a regular basis. If you are one of these individuals, you should be aware that even watching sports can have a positive impact on your well-being. Most of us are under stress on a regular basis, and luckily if we are in need of stress relief we can just turn on the television and watch sports. (miosuperheatlh.com, 2018)
With respect of my injury in 2019, the majority of pain I experienced was through my mental health. In complete honesty, those working in the hospital were taken aback by my pain tolerance during my visit. However, my absence from work for nearly two months brought my anxiety and depression to heights I had never experienced in the past. Although I knew beginning in September I would be completing my English degree at Memorial, I was experiencing a lack of motivation (despite finishing my degree with A’s) because of depression resulting from my absence from mundane life. Nevertheless, turning to professional wrestling allowed me to overcome my symptoms of anxiety and depression. For instance, waiting for Monday Night Raw,Smackdown Live (Still on Tuesdays at this point) allowed me to distract myself from genuine mental trauma I was experiencing. In terms of my anxiety, I understand that it might be somewhat difficult to relate to its specific context. However, I have experienced anxiety for about seven of my twenty-three years. Therefore, the fact of being injured only added to my somewhat regular experiences. In terms of mental health awareness, we need to stand together. If we are unable to do something on our own, that does not indicate weakness. Instead, asking for help or seeking ways of helping ourselves proves that we are strong enough to admit we cannot battle this alone. In relation to my own mental health, the issue of “KofiMania” became a significant factor in my willingness to overcome my lack of confidence and my insecurities following my injury in 2019.
KofiMania vs My Own Mental Health:
Kofi Kingston has been working for WWE since 2008, and was always received as a “fan favourite” despite never winning a major world championship until spending eleven years with the company. Kingston’s career experienced a significant revival beginning in 2014 when he, Big E (formerly Big E. Langston), and Xavier Woods formed the faction known as The New Day. As of writing this article, (the) New Day have become eight-time WWE Tag Team Champions sharing reigns between the “Smackdown” and “Raw” brands. In April of 2019, Kingston added the prestigious WWE World Heavyweight Championship to his renowned resume when he defeated Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35:
Kofi Kingston’s long journey to the top finally paid off Sunday, when he defeated Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35 to become WWE Champion for the first time. Not surprisingly, reaction to the match was overwhelmingly positive. With his win Kingston is finally a top guy in WWE after years of working in the midcard and being passed over for opportunities. The road to the top was an arduous one for him, but now he has the chance to show everyone his rise wasn’t a fluke. (Bleacher Report, 2019)
From the world of wrestling, it is undeniable that Kingston’s winning of the WWE Championship was long-overdue, and well deserved. Kingston worked in WWE for eleven years prior to breaking the proverbial “glass ceiling”, such that this moment in April of 2019 will remain significant as long as professional wrestling exists. With that being said, something to consider is how the concept of “KofiMania” corresponds with the ability to manage my own mental health. When I returned to Memorial in September of 2019, I knew this was my last semester for completing my English major. In terms of my required courses for English, only two remained and I had registered for them during the aforementioned semester. However, because I was absent from work for two months earlier in 2019 I experienced confidence issues. I knew this was my last semester for my English major, however, I felt I did not deserve it. Furthermore, conversations with my girlfriend resulted in me frequently mentioning that I was uncertain as to whether I wanted to finish my education, (despite performing well), as well as the inability to believe in myself. Nevertheless, my attitudes changed following my decision to watch the match between Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35 for a second time.
Although it is common knowledge that professional wrestling is scripted (for the most part), and pre-determined that does not diminish its impact. Considering my consistent participation within the Internet Wrestling Community, especially since I started watching MLW (Major League Wrestling); it is “still real to us”. Moreover, watching Kofi Kingston win the WWE Championship reminded me of the obstacles he overcame as an individual, outside the world of professional wrestling narratives. With respect of what transpires behind the curtain, professional wrestlers often receive promotions or a “push” usually resulting from the willingness to work hard and essentially pay their dues. In terms of Kingston’s win, I understand the real world obstacles he overcame to reach the pinnacle of wrestling hierarchy. Drawing from the idea that Kofi Kingston became WWE Champion through hard work, I recognized that I would finish my English major as long as I believed in myself and my abilities. Consequently, the process of restoring my own confidence transpired through my love and admiration for professional wrestling. Although I have always been a fan, my presence within the wrestling community will always remain because of its ability to help me manage my own mental health issues in 2019 during my absence from mundane life. Therefore, professional wrestling will always be an important aspect of my life.
Brandon R. Skanes, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. April 25, 2020.
Also a special thank you to Mr. Bryan Tobin of Tobin Tonight for his choice to feature my articles on his website. If you have not done so already, make sure to check out Bryan’s podcast which is featured on Spotify and SoundCloud. Something else to mention: if you have not done so already, tune into Major League Wrestling every Saturday night on YouTube. The promotion is on the road to 100,000 subscribers and provides some great wrestling.
(c) The Modernist Son, 2020