A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost



            “Oh…huh…”

            “And I can’t give you the vaccine for hep C because there’s not enough time for it to take effect.”

            “Oh…okay…”

            “So…I really hope you don’t get hep C.”

            “Yeah…well…me too…”

            “Oh, and your vitamin D is a little low, but that should be fine. Anyway, byeee! Don’t die!”

            We then had to pass a “flexibility” test on the morning of WrestleMania. So we met with the in-house WWE doctor, who, naturally, was ripped. (Every single employee at WWE—from the stagehands to the lawyer who presented my contract—was ripped. There was a wrestler back in the day named I.R.S., and I’m now convinced he was just their actual accountant.)

            The flexibility test involved looking to the left, then looking to the right, then attempting to touch my toes. “Any pain?” the doctor asked.

            “No…”

            “Okay, then you’re good to wrestle. Don’t die.”

            “Don’t die” became my mantra.

                         We were then sent over to a practice ring where a lot of the wrestlers were warming up. There, we were taught basic moves like “how to climb into the ring,” “how to get thrown out of the ring,” and “how to tuck your head to avoid a major spinal injury.” Beyond that, we had very little idea about what might happen in the match. The WWE is remarkably similar to SNL in that everything is constantly changing up until the moment you’re in front of a live audience.

            It’s also similar to SNL in that everyone you meet—from the wrestlers to the crew to the producers—is a total pro. Everyone was extremely knowledgeable and happy to give advice, which we desperately needed. They also encouraged us to enjoy it—as much as you can ever enjoy getting the crap beaten out of you on live TV.

            And Braun Strowman, who pummeled us within an inch of our lives, was super cool afterward. My dad went up to him to say hi, and he broke my dad’s arm in six places. My brother asked for an autograph and he ripped his ear off, signed it “I hear you, bro,” and threw it in the trash. Then my mom yelled, “Why are you doing this?” and he said, “Because you needed to see a real man for once in your miserable life.”

            Such a fun, nice dude behind the scenes.

            I had my entire family and all of my friends from high school come to WrestleMania. I’d been on SNL for thirteen years and this was the first time my friends were excited about anything I’d done. It felt like a bachelor party, except I wasn’t engaged yet.

            Every wrestler we talked to—from Triple H to Titus to surprise guest-star John Cena—told us there was no feeling in the world like walking out to a stadium full of fans who either loved you or hated you. (There was no in-between.) You could tell they were almost jealous that we were about to experience it for the first time.

                         Our entrance and our walk to the ring seemed to last for fifteen minutes.*3 Once we were in the ring, time suddenly disappeared. One minute we were hiding under the mat (which was terrifying, by the way—from underneath you realize it’s just a bunch of wooden planks with 350-pound giants slamming into them at the speed of gravity), the next minute I saw Che getting tossed over the rope.

            Then I saw a glimmer of hope: Braun Strowman’s leg was stuck in the ropes. I ran at him in a daze, grabbed his leg, and tried to throw him over the top rope. For a very brief moment, I felt like a professional wrestler.