Up close and personal with Ring Of Honor wrestling

Ring Of Honor wrestler Jay Lethal taking a picture with a fan (Photo Nick King/FOX26)

As kids, we all had heroes we wanted to grow up to be just like.

It could be a firefighter, teacher, astronaut, race car driver... or even a professional wrestler.

FOX26 Sports Reporter, Nick King, recently visited Ring of Honor, a professional wrestling league owned by our parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

As Nick shows us, this group of professional athletes is connecting so well with fans, because deep down, they are fans themselves.

These wrestlers remember the first time they watched professional wrestling. They remember who they watched and vividly remember when they decided... That's going to be me one day!

Professional wrestler Adam Cole said, "...then Stone Cold's music hit and 67,000 people like erupted at the same time. It was the first time I ever got goosebumps, and I remember literally, physically being moved as a child and saying, 'Okay, I'm going to be a pro wrestler.'"

The message is similar from all the wrestlers we talked with.

Jay Lethal said, "To actually think there's somebody out there watching me, the same way that I watched Macho Man and Ric Flair growing up, saying, 'Because of what he's doing, I want to be a professional wrestler.' I mean, my brain is trying hard right now not to explode."

"You get a kid and you show him wrestling, the odds are good you get that starry-eyed... 'Wow look!' And that's what I had," said wrestler Christopher Daniels.

But it's not easy being a professional wrestler and not everyone can do it. "To reach this level of success, you have to be me. You gotta be handsome, you gotta have good muscles," said Dalton Castle.

What Castle says is true, but it takes even more. Every one of these wrestlers trained for years at wrestling school, and many took theater classes, performed in school gymnasiums, basements and bingo halls.

Women of Honor wrestler Mandy Leon said, "You have to have the heart, you have to have the passion, the drive, the hunger. You know, every time we hit that mat, it's like a car crash. Every time we go through a table, it's a table."

But it's not just physical; it's also a production.

Adam Cole said, "Pro wrestling has more in common with Game of Thrones than the UFC. What we do is very real. The bumps and bruises are very real, but we're a performing arts show."

Frankie Kazarian agrees with that sentiment, saying, "We're out there doing a one act play. We don't get second takes. That's what I don't think wrestling will ever get credited enough for, is the guys' ability to go out there and tell a story in front of a live audience, and just go, and fly by the seat of our pants."

So that's why the audience is all in, hypnotized and mesmerized, by wrestlers who remember. Remember what it felt like to watch, to meet a hero face to face. And remember vividly what it felt like to lover professional wrestling... because they still do. "In middle school, maybe seven of us, we'd bring wrestling magazines and we'd read them at lunch. Sometimes we wouldn't even eat. You are seeing everything that I love about professional wrestling every time you watch me in the ring," said Jay Lethal.

Christopher Daniels said, "The minute you walk out and the lights hit you, and all of a sudden, It starts low... ahhhHHHH, that rush of energy at you from these people. I chase that feeling every time I walk to the ring. I want that energy of the people, that they want to see me and I want to give it back to them, and I want them to be happy that they saw me and feel like the money they spent and the time they spent being here was so worth it. Like, man, I can't wait to do that again."

Check your local listings for showtimes.

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