They've both been labelled as exciting, fast-paced and dangerous but is not often that wrestling and politics collide. Comparing cross-fists with cross-words, Conservative MP Lee Scott met TNA's Robbie E during a recent tour of the UK House of Parliament.
Seeking to better understand the similarities and differences between their disparate professions, Royal Ramblings peppered the pair with questions about their professional and personal lives with somewhat surprising results.
Both Scott and E are members of the Jewish faith and it was this from their shared faith that a number of their broader connections were established. Asking Scott how his Jewish and political lives were linked, E was told that they were often completely separate. Most of Scott's day-to-day work, he explained, is focussed on helping the people in his area. Turning to some of the antisemitic abuse he had incurred whilst campaigning, Scott was keen to point out that his natural defence mechanism was humour - a stereotypically Jewish strength. He supposed that "if you use humour, it's harder for people to hurt you... although maybe not in your profession!" Robbie E agreed that humour was an asset and explained that: "sometimes if you beg off in the right way, you can get someone to change their mind and they won't hurt you as bad...". "AS BAD!" choked Scott. "Yep", E continued "but cracking a joke won't stop someone from throwing you across the ring".
Robbie E went on to detail the injuries he has sustained in his 14 year professional career including: a separated shoulder, a broken ankle and numerous concussions. "It's like playing a hard football game three or four times a week" he said. Scott, struggling to understand why one would do something so painful tried to divine a rationale. "It's the thrill" explained E, "like a high or an addiction - when people get into the story of your match it's amazing. You don't feel the pain until afterwards when the adrenaline has worn off". "I once wrestled a whole match with a broken ankle!" Scott's only point of comparison was a charity skydive he had done, something to which he had committed and only later fully appreciated the consequences. For Robbie E, consequences were also an afterthought "sometimes you'll be standing at top rope, it looks far down and you might have a table or steel chair below you but when you're out there you hear the crowd and all you think about is beating your opponent" he said.
There were further points of comparison between the two in respect of their charitable efforts. Both Scott and Robbie E visit schools and hospitals as part of their public roles. E highlighted that his role on TV affords him a privileged position from which to help those less fortunate. This was something that had hit home at the London Comic-Con where he and girlfriend Brook had met an individual who had to use a keyboard to communicate. For Robbie E, such interactions "can turn around a bad day". Whilst Scott described as "amazing" the potential for wrestling stars to ignite the passions of those that do not have the highest quality of life.
Returning to their Jewish connection, Scott asked E in what way his Judaism and wrestling life were connected. Robbie E was frank in his admission that there was little direct relation but supposed that "it was hard to learn to spin a Dreidel (spinning top) when I was younger and it was hard to learn to run the ropes in pro-wrestling". "So if I had never persevered with that Dreidel, Its possible I'd never have learned to run the ropes and be a pro-wrestler!". He went on to explain that as a youngster he visited the synagogue with his father (which he still does when home on Jewish holidays) and that the Rabbi is an avid follower of sports. A pro-wrestling fan from four years old, Robbie E would talk at length about the latest storylines with his Rabbi. A unique relationship indeed.
Scott was also curious as to Robbie E's status as a Jewish wrestler and whether there were others. Explaining that stars like Goldberg had paved the way (and learning from the Royal Ramblings team that Kane was also Jewish) Scott was nonetheless impressed by E's Google prominence. That, we were told by TNA officials, could be at risk given the opportunities available to British wrestlers in the forthcoming British Bootcamp 2 talent contest on Challenge TV. Wrestlers on the UK's independent scene including Jewish Israeli-born Noam Dar, will have the opportunity to win their place in TNA and threaten Robbie E's crown.
Robbie E seemed less than concerned about an enhanced talent pool, suggesting that Scott should join the ranks at TNA because "age doesn't matter in pro-wrestling". Scott joked that he would fit the bill if they were looking for an overweight, unfit man in his mid-50's but E countered that having jumped out of a plane, the MP had some ability. "Stupidity", insisted Scott. They settled on a trial as an announcer.
Looking to other stereotypical Jewish traits to find areas of shared interest, familial anxiety was a common theme. Robbie E explained that even if she records a TNA show and watches it with him beside her, his mother still turns away from the TV whenever he's taking a bump. "She's nervous for weeks ahead if she's coming to see me live" he said. "Even if I reassure her in advance that everything's going to be alright, she'll never be totally comfortable". That said, Robbie's dad is "into it and thinks it's cool -but then, he's still doing martial arts!" Meanwhile Scott explained that his youngest daughter was not yet a teenager when he lost the electoral seat he contested during the 2001 election. He hadn't told her that he expected to lose and she was terribly upset.
Although similar, there were also points of departure between their Jewish lives. Scott observes the Jewish dietary laws of Kashrut but whilst kosher food is abundant in the states and E claims to enjoy it, his life on the road doesn't allow for such religious obedience. He explained that having to "pop into places late at night, limits your choice" and as Scott pointed out "I can just put on weight but you have to be careful!"
As their conversation drew to a close, the similarities and differences that had dotted throughout their conversation were once again on show. E explained, "I'm Robert Strauss, a guy from New Jersey, but in front of the curtain I'm someone else. I'm Robbie E and I can tell stories in the ring. I can make fans cheer me, like me, boo me. I can tell them I hate them and call them ugly and fat". "That doesn't really work in my profession" pointed out Scott. At which, Robbie E (still keen to recruit the parliamentarian to the ring) suggested that if nothing else, joining TNA might help the politician to exercise years of pent up frustration.
It was put to the pair that their shared Jewish 'showmanship', speaking to, performing for and entertaining audiences, is a shared feature albeit acted out in different ways. Turning to humour again, Scott joked "but when I speak, no one listens" only for Robbie E to add "well when I do it, Im nearly naked". "We touch people, you touch people" said E and Scott pertinently replied "that's got a whole different meaning in politics. Let's just say we shake a lot of hands".
From a starting point of significant difference, these two professionals from different worlds stumbled upon a number of strikingly similar life themes. In their personal life, faith and family have a role and if Robbie E has his way, their professional lives may soon be overlapping too. For another view of how the meeting unfolded, take a look at the Jewish Chronicle's coverage of the day and to see if Lee Scott decides to enter British Boot Camp 2, look out for TNA on Challenge TV.