What I learned from pro wrestling

  • Like Hulk Hogan, you'd do well to follow your own style.
Like Hulk Hogan, you'd do well to follow your own style. (Handout photo )
April 04, 2013|By Ernest Wilkins, @ernestwilkins | RedEye

With Wrestlemania 29 around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the lessons a lifetime of watching pro wresting has taught me. BEWARE: If you aren't a wrestling nerd, you won't get any of these references. I love you anyway.

1. Family is everything.

From The Steiner Brothers to Harlem Heat to the tragedies of the Von Erichs and the Harts, family is important. Even though they might sometimes turn their backs on you (looking in your general direction, McMahon family), blood is always thicker than water—especially in a Texas Death Match.

2. Everybody starts somewhere. It's usually not glamorous. See it through.

When Triple H got his start, he was named "Terra Ryzing." The Rock got booed out of the building during the first year he was in WWE. Kevin Nash used to dress like a 7-foot Wizard of Oz. No one cares where you start. Put the work in and you'll finish on top.

3. In life, you'll encounter big obstacles. Believe in yourself and you'll power right through them. Oh, and eat your vitamins and drink your milk.

Wrestlemania 3: Hulk Hogan goes up against the biggest threat he's ever faced, Andre the Giant in front of 70,000 people. You may not come across any 7-foot-4 giants in your life, but a problem or stressful situation can seem just as big. Do what Hogan did: Pick it up and then slam it to the ground. (Feel free to drop a leg if the mood hits you.)

4. At the end of the day, style isn't about what's popular, it's about your personality. Make sure to stand out.

Ric Flair's robes. The Ultimate Warrior's face paint. The Road Warriors' spiked shoulder pads. Every single thing Macho Man Randy Savage put on. True style is standing out and showcasing who you are. Wear the clothes, don't let them wear you.

5. You're only as good as your team (or faction, as the case may be).

Align yourself with like-minded individuals hell-bent on dominating any and all obstacles. Do it with the style of the Four Horsemen. (We're talking the Flair/Arn/Tully/Windham incarnation ONLY), the swag of D-Generation X, and the sheer numbers of the NWO. Associate yourself with greatness and all the gold in the world is yours for the taking.

Ernest Wilkins is Chicago's wingman. @ernestwilkins

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