WAL on ESPN
ESPN has been showing the World Arm Wrestling League as part of its programming and I’m hooked. The idea of two men squaring off to see who is stronger, without punching each other in the head, is exhilarating. Competition is vicious as men come from all over the globe to compete. There is no better test of arm strength.
Arm wrestling is set up in tournament format with single pull’s that lead up to semi final matches, and then finals. Most matches are over within 5 seconds as the stronger man dominates. There is hardly any luck in arm wrestling and strategy can overcome power. The mental battle is just as fierce as the physical. The best are the best.
Pulling John is a documentary released in 2009 that follows John Brzenk, the greatest arm wrestler of all time, as he prepares for upcoming opponents. John Brzenk has been dominant for 25 years and I paid $2.99 to watch his mind set leading up to the Zloty Tur (one of the biggest arm wrestling tournaments). John, Alexey Voevoda, and Travis Baegent were the focus of the documentary and the viewer gains insight to their training and intensity. Mild mannered John Brzenk immediately becomes your favorite arm wrestler because it feels like he shouldn’t be the best, but is (even though he loses to Alexey at the end).
John “the perfect storm” Brzenk is still arm wrestling at 51. He is 225 and will still pull against the super heavyweights. Watching the greatest of all time is a privilege and who knows how much longer he can continue. Watching a man of 51 pull against younger, stronger opponents, and still win, is what the sport is all about.
Will Arm Wrestling Gain in Popularity?
Now that there is a proper medium for distribution, the sport will grow. With Game of Arms on AMC and now the WAL being broadcasted on ESPN, there will be a ratings surge. If I find the programming exciting, I’m sure others will too. Here are a few reasons why this sport grows on you.
- Just because a left hander can dominate a division, it doesn’t mean his right hand will. Travis Baegent will own all the left heavyweights but he can’t beat Dave Chaffee right handed, and vice versa. This gives extra incentive to the top pullers to be the best.
The competitors also have personalities which makes it all the better. Allen Fisher, at 59, is Mr. Intensity and even though he’s not as dominant as he was, he puts on a show every time he steps to the table.
- Most of these guys are working other jobs and the arm wrestling is just a side gig because the money isn’t that great unless you win. This aspect that everyone isn’t a millionaire is another reason the pullers are easy to relate to.
- The idea that you are the “strongest in the world” is the ultimate appeal. Training never stops because there is always someone better than you. Even when you become the best, there are always pullers trying to overtake you.
- It’s a sport that is simple and everyone follows the same rules. The only way to get better is hard work which is what separates the competitors. A truly raw and powerful display of strength that is worth watching.