I Ain’t No (Johnny) Saint
(But Hopefully I’m Close)
“So, like, what’s your ‘character’?”
“Can you describe your, uh...’style’?”
Those are a couple questions that I get confronted with quite often, and for quite a while I was at a loss for a quick, simple answer.
“I don’t worry, so much, about developing a ‘character’, I’m more concerned with developing true character” Was one of my go-to cutesy responses to the former inquiry.
“I kinda have a Bruce Lee influenced philosophy on ‘style’; ‘Don’t get set in one form (style), adapt it and build your own, be like water.’ I wanna be like water: beyond a single shape, beyond a single form, beyond a easily nailed down ‘style’.” Might be my overly thought out, long winded, but honest, answer to the latter inquiry.
These answers seemed to leave my inquirers dissatisfied and slightly irritated. So, I put some thought into it and, finally, a decent, quick, to-the-point explaination of me came.
“I’m kinda like a spiritual Johnny Saint.” I have begun to answer to amused, immediately understanding inquirers.
As a full fledge fanboy of technical wrestling, I had a lot of different voices urging me in the direction of Great Britain's “Man Of A Thousand Holds” well before YouTube became a thing. Without having easy access to footage of him wrestling, Saint had become legendary in the traditional sense of the word, in my mind.
When I was finally able to track down some footage, it came with the highest of expectations.
Johnny Saint blew my mythical expectations away like dandelion seeds in a cyclone. I lost all sense of self awareness in his poetry-of-motion, like a word-nerd’s first experience of Shakespeare. I delighted in his lighthearted personality-between-action, like an acting student’s first viewing of Brando in “Streetcar”. As the final bell rang out, signaling the end of the final round, I yearned for more, like a hip-hop head hearing 2pac’s debut verse on Digital Underground’s “Same Song”.
Was it just his fluidity of movement, charm, and mat-mastery that endeared him to my heart like an actual saint to repentant sinner?
I deeply appreciated all of that, but there was something deeper that placed the figurine of this wrestling idol on the highest altars of the sanctuary centered in the parts of my heart dedicated to squared-circle-zealotry. I wasn’t sure exactly what, though.
Then I listened to him on Colt Cabana’s Art Of Wrestling podcast and, when asked to describe his own style he answered, “Escapology”.
Ah! Yes! That was it!
Much of what he did in the ring was based around escaping an attacking opponent; it was defensive, rather than offensive.
Huh. I hadn’t consciously recognized that, before.
I had been dealing with an internal issue for a while: how do I reconcile a path of personal peacefulness with being apart of a sport that uses violence as a form of entertainment?
And here is this guy, who I had been studying for years, answering my conundrum in the form of matches that happened well before I was born: wrestling self-defensively with sportsmanship as a fundamental principle.
Wow. Powerful, Johnny Saint.
While I feel like I have a certain level of uniqueness that’s not really comparable to anyone, people really like to try to lock things into a solid form with comparisons to things they already have a formed idea of.
So, right now, given his beautiful influence on my ring-consciousness, it’s fun working diligently to live up to my lofty self description of “like Saint”, knowing, full well, that there will never be anybody truly “like Saint”.
And, with his unmatchable specialness in mind, l am more motivated than ever to make sure that there will never be anybody truly “like Kincaid”, either.
Thank you, Johnny, so much!