Recently I attended a professional wrestling event for the first time ever – WWE Smackdown at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina. I am not a wrestling fan by any means, but I have been fascinated by Sheamus the Celtic Warrior. He appears as an anomaly to me that I needed to see firsthand – how can someone so pale and pasty-skinned be such a fantastic athlete? He was coming to Columbia and I did not pass up the chance to see him “fight.”
Believe it or not, there are actually a few things we can learn from Sheamus and the rest of the WWE performers regarding performance optimization. (Y’know, besides innate leanness.)
– Training and preparation is critical to success.
These guys aren’t just some Joe Schmo off the street – they are physically gifted and they still must train for years. Many of the wrestlers are considerably taller than average or have their roots in high school and college wrestling before joining the ranks of WWE. It takes the right kind of athlete with the right capabilities to participate, but not every wrestler is the same just like every employee is different. The optimal outcome is to perform and succeed in a safe manner for all involved, and the way each wrestler (size, moves, opponent) and employee (experience, talent, problem solving capability) approaches that outcome might be different.
– Connected processes flow smoothly when knowledge is shared and standardized work is properly deployed.
Not only do wrestlers have to be strong enough to withstand big hits, but they must also throw each other around in a wrestling ring safely. By practicing wrestling moves in a safe environment, using equipment that can absorb impacts, and being in sync with each other, wrestlers make sure they are putting on a good show for fans while also maintaining safe treatment of their opponents.
Yes, wrestlers use scripts for their matches. It’s easier and safer for wrestlers to make big hits look bigger if they can predict what moves are coming and can play it up. But that means having a plan and script that both wrestlers know and follow. By communicating moves coming, opponents don’t get surprised and get caught off guard from a kick to the jaw.
There are no timeouts in the ring, and there aren’t timeouts when serving customers. Standardized processes properly connected lead to predictability, consistency, and increased safety.
– It’s hard to achieve regular and optimal success when using a bad setup.
(I really think they just make this stuff up to make people like me giggle at the ridiculousness.)
The Dublin Street Fight, from what I could tell, consisted of two rolling beer tap portable units on the outside of opposite ends of the ring. I have no idea why they were even necessary, except so they could play up the Celtic Warrior home field advantage or something. They also strategically placed some Irish-themed props around the ring.
One of those props was a sack of potatoes stashed under the ring – Sheamus whacked Sandow with the sack then dumped the potatoes on him in a show of a true Irish temper. *shrug*
Okay, it was funny and made for a good show.
But here’s where standardized work and a good setup really helped the show.
For the finishing blow to Sandow, Sheamus had to get Sandow down and slow on the mat, then set up two chairs in the optimal location in the ring.
He picked Sandow up then hit him with the stick to get him to sit in the chairs…
…then blasted him with a Brogue kick to the jaw.
Sheamus holds him for a three-count and wins the match.
None of that happens without the proper setup of chairs and opponent condition. It might have been difficult to properly execute a winning move without planning for the optimal outcome a few steps ahead.
That’s why 5S is such a great tool and mindset – you create the proper setup for optimal process completion. You have what you need where you need it, and you don’t have anything out that isn’t needed.