Hi, my given name is Dwayne Johnson, but a lot of people call me 'The Rock.' Everybody, in fact, calls me 'The Rock.' You 15 folks can call me 'The Rock,' too. That will be fine.
I know you're probably a little flustered, snatched from that airport in Lausanne, Switzerland yesterday afternoon, flown here direct to the United States, now locked into this steel cage with me and a couple of my friends, but don't worry. We're going to get you out of here pretty darn quick. Or so I hope.
For starters, welcome. It's not often we have the Olympic Executive Committee here all together. I know you're usually at some swanky ski resort or something when you make those important decisions -- like you did yesterday morning when you DROPPED WRESTLING FROM THE OLYMPICS -- but I'm pretty sure you'll find that you can think clearly in a steel cage, too. In fact, maybe you can think even more clearly than you could at that swanky resort.
I'd just like to talk to you a little bit about, you know, THAT WRESTLING DECISION. See, I'm a wrestler and my friends are wrestlers. That's Mr. Cena and Mr. Hogan and Mr. Austin and that big, quiet fella, we simply call him 'The Undertaker.' We're a little bit miffed -- I guess that's the word, miffed -- about THAT WRESTLING DECISION.
You see, none of us are affected by it because we're professional wrestlers, which is a quite different business because we can use chairs and tables and baseball bats and chain saws and just about anything else while we work inside the ring, but we have an affinity for the amateur wrestlers who are affected. Some of us were amateur wrestlers once, a long time ago. Some of us simply respect what they do.
These amateur wrestlers are the true athletes. They might be the truest athletes of all. They don't make much money, hardly any money at all. Virtually nothing. Someone like LeBron James -- have you heard of him, LeBron James, the basketball player? -- he probably makes more money for sinking two free throws than the best American amateur wrestler makes in an entire year. Someone like Albert Pujols -- he's a baseball player -- probably makes more for striking out.
These amateurs are in it for the competition, the sport. (Why are you laughing? Why the big smiles?) I know it's an outmoded concept here in 2013, what with big-screen TV and all, money everywhere, show-biz and glitz, but isn't the competition, the sport, what the Olympics are supposed to embrace. The amateur ideal? Isn't that it?
Listen to me. These people train like crazy. Every one of them, except the heavyweights, has to fight a problem with weight to be in his or her proper classification. They all have to be in tip-top shape. There's no equipment to hide behind. Nothing.
The wrestler gets into that ring, trim and mean, all alone. The entire body has to be a weapon. He or she is going to inflict some hurt, perhaps, but they're also going to get hurt. Did you ever see these peoples' ears? Whoa. A wrestler once told me he was in a Burger King with three other wrestlers and the waitress asked if they all were brothers. She thought they all had the same birth defect, the nasty ears. Whoa. The ears are badges of honor.
Then there are the places where the competitions are held. The places are unbelievable. This isn't an American sport, you know. (Was that why you made the decision? You thought it was an American sport?) The Americans pretty much are underdogs on the world stage. Wrestling pretty much is strongest in the hotspots, the hellholes on the geopolitical map. Russia is very good, the best. Iran is good. Always has been good. Turkey is good. North and South Korea. Cuba. All of those republics that split from the Soviet Union are very good. The Ukraine. Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova all are good.
The American has to go to these places to wrestle these people. They all have different styles. They all have different body smells. They have names that can't be pronounced or remembered. They come into the ring -- the Ukrainian, the Mongolian, the Greek -- and they are riddles to be solved. The world championships are held in places like Teheran, Tashkent, Budapest, Baku, Guanzhou. The food is questionable. The water is to be avoided.
Go get 'em.
"How do you think some of those big-time basketball guys would like this?" Larry (Zeke) Jones, now the US freestyle coach, asked long ago when he was at the world championships in Krasnoyarsk, a Russian city in the middle of Siberia. "How long do you think they'd last here? How do you think Shaquille O'Neal would like this? It's OK for me because I'm a wrestler. This is what I do. I don't care where I am. I'd go to Mars to wrestle a Martian."
Wrestlers from 71 countries competed in the Olympics in London in 2012. Wrestlers from 118 nations have competed in the Olympics through the years and 54 nations have won medals. Those numbers alone should ensure that wrestling should continue to be in the Games. History -- wrestling might be the oldest sport in the world -- should end any arguments.
I don't know what criteria you folks were using when you kept synchronized swimming and modern pentathlon and all those sports involving yachts and horses and bicycles and tennis rackets in the Games, but I think you were a little misguided. You know? I know there's a chance that wrestling can be voted back for 2020 at the general IOC meeting in Buenos Aires in September, but I'm thinking we might be able to do something a bit sooner. That's why we brought you here, to give you a chance to reconsider.
Is that all right?
A chance to reconsider?
You will notice that the door to the cage is locked and I am wearing a cord around my neck. The key is attached to the cord. If you decide to change the vote, I will unlock the door. If you don't decide to change your vote, that's fine, but you will have to take the key from me and open the door yourselves. I might resist. Is that understood? Good luck and God speed.
Mr. Undertaker, start the chainsaw.