Because pro wrestling is “a work” (i.e., the matches are predetermined), we can’t just use one mind in the way we might in legitimate sports or just about any other activity. We have to develop, use and balance three minds, which have parallels to Freudian psychology:
- Safe mind (id) – This is the most basic mind. Safety is the most essential and important thing we do as pro wrestlers: we have to take care of each other and make sure our opponents and ourselves avoid injury. In the Freudian sense, this is the most basic and animalistic part of us: it’s the part that makes us hungry and thirsty, causes our heart to beat, drives us to survive, etc.
- Realistic mind (ego) – In the Freudian sense, this is the executor; this is the thing that makes the decisions. We have to use the realistic mind in pro wrestling to determine what we would do next to try to win the match, if the match situation we were in was part of a real wrestling match, if pro wrestling were “a shoot” (i.e., a legitimate athletic contest).
- Creative mind (superego) – This is the part of the mind in wrestling we have to use to make our matches dramatic or entertaining. For Freud, the superego is the higher-level and altruistic part of our minds. Likewise, in wrestling being creative and considering what will engage the audience emotionally is the most advanced thing we have to do.
Almost no one comes into pro wrestling with these three minds well-developed. It’s one of the challenges. When you’re having a match, you almost need to be thinking with all three minds at once: Am I being safe? Am I doing things that make logical sense? Am I engaging the audience?
Any one of these three minds can be overcompensated for or neglected. They have to be balanced.
You can neglect the safe mind and be dangerous to your opponents or yourself — the worst thing you can do in the ring. You can overcompensate the safe mind and be so worried about being safe that your stuff looks weak.
You can neglect the realistic mind by doing things that make no sense for the character you’ve established or that show, with no good reason, that you’re not bothering to try to win the match.
You can neglect the creative mind by putting on a boring match that doesn’t engage the audience. Or you can overcompensate by trying to do so much stuff that the audience doesn’t understand it or that you’ve as a result neglected the realistic mind by jamming cool moves into your match at the expense of those moves logically leading to one another.