Wrestling’s all fake, isn’t it? That’s the usual response when grappling comes up in conversation.
However, when Scottish Wrestling Entertainment boss David Low pulls me by the wrist into a devastating headlock, the inability to escape is all too real.
Ahead of Saturday night’s SWE Uprising event at the Ardler Complex, I was invited to their training arena at Manhattan Works to be shown the ropes.
David – who fights as Bravehart – is my teacher for the day. He makes clear that while wrestling is entertainment, it requires commitment.
He demonstrates this with a hip toss – a move which sees me thrown over his leg, heels overhead, landing flat on my back on the canvas.
From the outside, it looks – and sounds – extremely painful.
But what looks like a world of pain for me is, in fact, a well-versed piece of teamwork.
The secret, as with most wrestling moves, is how you “sell” the action to the audience.
A perfect hip toss is exciting and grimace-inducing and sees the thrower and throwee work in perfect sync to pull it off.
The same goes for an “Irish whip”, where fighters yank each other by the arm, slinging them into the ropes or the corner. However, there’s nothing fake about the submission holds David puts me in.
Performing the Cloverleaf, he ties my legs up like a shoelace and pulls on the knot, stretching my hamstring like an elastic band.
There was nothing artificial about my yelling during that.
After a few practises with David, I’m put in the ring with SWE star Zack Leon – also known as dad-of-one Jason Norrie – who is less gentle with hip tossing.
Jason started wrestling three years ago and has been competing in SWE shows for two.
He said: “People always think of wrestling as being an act but you have to put the work in.
“I exercise six times a week and also do two three-hour wrestling training sessions.
“It requires a lot of dedication.
“What I love about it is that it’s a combination of several things – there’s the physicality, the theatre, and giving it 100%.
“It could be a three-month feud or a 10-minute match – but if you get people believing in you that’s the ultimate highlight.”
As we talk, there’s an almighty crash on the floor mats behind us.
A fighter has pulled the legs out from underneath another and he has hit the floor, hard.
There’s an awkward silence for a minute as he groans, clutching his kneecap, falling on to his side in the foetal position.
The mat is stained with tears and I’m convinced his leg is sitting out of joint.
Fighters gather round, looking increasingly worried – he doesn’t look like he is ”selling” at all. David stops to peer over from the edge of the ring.
And then the fighter springs up, smirking, and strolls off.
That’s the grotesque magic of wrestling entertainment – the action might be dramatised, but the commitment definitely isn’t.