Rawlings takes impressive strides in professional wrestling career


Jared Rawlings

Jared Rawlings (10) makes his entrance into a championship match — the biggest event of his professional wrestling career so far. Posing on the top rope is one of many ways to make a powerful first impression.

Blinding lights. Triumphant cries. The smell of sweat. The exhilarating atmosphere of a wrestling match can be intimidating for anyone unfamiliar with the sport. However, Jared Rawlings (10) has never felt more alive than when he finally steps into the ring as a contestant.

Becoming passionate about a sport like wrestling does not happen overnight. Rawlings’ love for wrestling started at a young age when he began watching WWE on TV. 

“When I was five, just like every other five-year-old in 2010, John Cena caught my eye,” Rawlings said. “He became my childhood hero, and from there, my taste in wrestling kept morphing. It was always something that I wanted to do from the moment I started beating up stuffed animals on my parents’ bed. It was always perfect for me.”

Rawlings became a certified VCA (Velocity Championship Action) Wrestling referee as part of his training in order to get experience in the ring without having to enter as a competitor. Opportunities such as these are sought after to increase comfort in the ring while also viewing matches with notable wrestlers.

“I started training to become a wrestler almost exactly a year ago, but the end goal was never to be a referee and to be behind the stripes,” Rawlings said. “In the business, you have to move your way up as you get better. I heard that Memphis wrestling icon Jerry “the King” Lawler was going to be doing a show with our promotion, and I had to get in on it.”

Being a referee allowed Rawlings to prepare for the pressure of performing in front of an audience. He recognized that without this experience, stage fright probably would have been a significant obstacle. 

“I never really had a lot of experience in front of crowds, so I got the feeling of all eyes being on me and people paying attention to me,” Rawlings said. “That made it easier for me when I finally took off the stripes and started wrestling.”

Although reffing comes with many learning experiences, Rawlings still longed to be in the ring as a competitor. He was awarded as the 2020 VCA Wrestling Referee of the Year, which was a major accomplishment as well as a sign to him that he had completed his journey as a referee. 

“As a referee, every time I got hit, I enjoyed it,” Rawlings said. “I learned so much. but I just couldn’t wait to be in action.”

The step between wrestling as a competitor and taking hits as a referee is a large one; because hits against referees are not condoned, Rawlings was only conditioned to take a few hits per match. During training, he learned how to take and quickly recover from hits in rapid succession with intense amounts of force in preparation for taking real hits during a match. However, no amount of preparation can shield a wrestler from injuries during a match something Rawlings learned very early on.

“In my first ever match in front of a crowd, I dislocated my right hip during the match, and I had to finish the match that way,” Rawlings said. “I ended up relocating my hip somehow; I was just walking, and I heard it click, but I was out for like three weeks after that.”

Behind the scenes of wrestling matches, wrestlers develop characters that take their own personalities and dramatize them to be fit for a show. There are generally protagonists and antagonists, and many wrestlers choose a stage name that further embodies their wrestling persona. Rawlings, who goes by “Jared ‘X’ Rawlings” while wrestling, decided that the simple addition of “X” changes the demeanor of his name from dorky to loud and intimidating. 

“I kinda used to wanna be a bad guy because I didn’t like people that much,” Rawlings said. “But as my love for people has grown, and people seemed to like me, so I became more of a likeable, cocky, sleazy ‘teenage dream’ that’s one of my nicknames.”

Rawlings has grown accustomed to common misconceptions regarding professional wrestling such as comparison to mat wrestling and the belief that the scripted nature of matches makes all hits “fake” due to the relative lack of teens in the business. Despite this fairly common naivety towards wrestling, Rawlings has been pleasantly surprised by the amount of support he receives from friends and family alike.

“My parents support me more than I would have ever expected,” Rawlings said. “I’ve had a lot of people support me that I would not have expected because it’s a very odd occupation.”

Becoming heavily involved with professional wrestling has impacted Rawlings’ lifestyle in many ways. Not only is it immensely time consuming, but being physically fit has also become extremely important both to win matches and to appear fit in pictures and videos of matches (@VCA Wrestling on YouTube). 

“It’s definitely changed my life because there are birthday parties I can’t make it to because I have to go to training or do a show,” Rawlings said. “I also have to be telegenic, which isn’t really a problem, but it’s something I think about.”

Regardless of the injuries, time commitment and mental strain, Rawlings holds a passion for wrestling that he identifies as unmatched  to anything else in his life. 

“The [adrenaline rush] is crazy,” Rawlings said. “The first time I went out there, people were chanting my name; I froze up and got tunnel vision. I didn’t see anyone, but I went out and did my thing. It’s the only high I would ever want. I loved it.”