Pre-match Rituals--Extreme Edition
Pre-match Rituals details the idiosyncrasies and customary behaviors that WWE Superstars have adapted before they make their way to the ring. Look for Pre-match Rituals on the third Wednesday of every month.
"Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true."
It's puzzling—the confidence that emits from simple, repetitious tasks that have yielded success in the past. Perhaps even more perplexing is the line that separates routine and superstition. When exactly do quirks, crutches or habits transform into superstitions?
Baltimore Ravens guard Edwin Mulitalo prepares the same meal every Saturday night during the NFL football season: a turkey club sandwich and a cup of cream and crab soup; when Mike Hargrove, who is now the manager of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners, was a player he earned the nickname "The Human Rain Delay." He would walk the first-base line and take three practice swings before stepping into the batter's box. Then, once he got into the box, he'd perform a series of adjustments to his batting gloves, pants, sleeves, wipe his lips and push down on the top of his batting helmet before he felt he was in the right state of mind to bat. He repeated the routine after each pitch.
So, what types of pre-match rituals do sports-entertainers implement to give them peace of mind before a match?
This month, WWE.com is taking pre-match rituals to the extreme by asking ECW on Sci Fi's Balls Mahoney, Sandman, Mick Foley -- in celebration of his visit to his old ECW stomping grounds -- and Tommy Dreamer to shed light on what they do to prepare for ECW warfare.
The demands from ECW fans are arguably the highest in sports-entertainment. Their fans are notorious for recognizing every slip, fall or missed high-risk maneuver. A few weeks ago, when SmackDown's Batista showed up on ECW on Sci Fi, the fans were relentless in their verbal abuse towards the Animal. They chanted obscenities, threw garbage and demonstrated their overall lack of appreciation for someone who hasn't been inducted to their "EC-Dub" family. With this type of pressure behind every outing, what do the Extremists do to ensure they're performing at the pinnacle of their abilities?
ECW Extremist Balls Mahoney
- Basically, the headphones go on. I douse my body in water because I smell like a pig anyway. So I try to cool off a bit because I'm always so hyper. I mean, if you haven't seen me before a match, it's a pretty scary sight.
- I shadowbox.
- I punch walls.
- I head butt walls.
- I listen to hard, hard, hard music. Slayer, Slipknot,Type O Negativ, Pantera, Superjoy Ritual; what else? Cradle of Filth. I'm a huge Cradle of Filth fan. King Diamond. Anything that really gets the blood pumping. Lately it's been Type O.
- Basically, I just get myself into a state of rage, and I take all the frustrations of my life out. It's a pretty insane sight, and I hope they don't film it because I think some kids wouldn't approach me anymore.
ECW Extremist Sandman
- A couple cocktails. A Long Island iced tea starting out at maybe two or one -- and three o'clock is usually tea time. And then I'll switch over to beer. I'll get through maybe another 12-pack before I hit the ring.
- I smash a couple beers over my head. I smoke a pack of Camels, non-filtered.
RAW Superstar and ECW Alum Mick Foley
- This is a ritual -- a sporadic ritual -- in that some of the greatest and most barbaric matches of my career have all had one thing in common and that is I listen to "Winter" by Tori Amos before the matches and try to visualize scenes of complete and utter destruction. For those who know "Winter," it's possibly the most beautiful song ever recorded. So, why it creates such horrific images in my mind may be a result of the many, many chairs that have bombarded my head over the years. But I know that following this past WrestleMania (22), Kane told me he saw me, and it scared him because I was trying so valiantly to get into the zone.
- And I know that before the ECW on Sci Fi show I didn't get into a zone; I didn't prepare myself mentally. I didn't listen to Tori Amos. And I still had a really good match. So, I am thinking instead of dedicating all of my pre-match energy to a sappy love song, I will instead just focus on what I'm gonna do to Ric Flair[at SummerSlam].
- [On how this pre-match ritual came about] I came back in a no-rope barbed wire match with Terry Funk in Japan in 1995 in front of less than 150 people in a 40 degree gym. Despite the poor turnout, it was considered a very important match because the Japanese national media was there covering it. We felt that maybe there are only 150 fans in attendance, but that upwards of half a million would be reading about it, and we wanted to give them some pictures they would remember. So it was one of the best matches of my career, and maybe the one I'm proudest of because it was done in front of so few people, and it was done with such tenacity, and it really did help put our little promotion on the map. I think in large part it was due to the stimulation I got from the beautiful love song. I've also come up with strange interviews while listening to the soundtrack of Mary Poppins. The tuppence song, "Feed The Birds." So some guys have heavy metal that does it for them. I'm also thinking about going to the live version of Bruce Springsteen's "Youngstown." I know in training for matches, that's the one I go to that makes me actually believe I can be as good as I used to be. I just listened to it twice on the way to Charlottesville [RAW]. So, I'm not sure whether it's going to be a musical night for me or not. But at this age, with my bad knees and all that, I need to become somebody else, and music usually does that for me.
ECW Extremist Tommy Dreamer
- I say a special prayer before I go out.
- I do 10 Hindu squats.
- I lift my left leg up and then my right leg up, and I'm ready.