While watching random videos on YouTube out of boredom, I stumbled across this short scene from Bleach. The anime series has gotten a restart thanks to Tite Kubo finally putting the finishing touches to his long-neglected work. Part of that should be the long-awaited reveal of the kindly medic Retsu Unohana as the first Kenpachi, the deadliest swordsman ever. While she had been a killer of many in the past, she chose to be a healer in this timeline. Why?
Yeah, I now look into this subject through the frame of anime, but I’m willing to go with anything at this point to have more to post on this blog. But it’s not the scene per se that got me writing about this, but the top comment on that YouTube video. (Sorry, I can’t find the link anymore.)
“Whether you’re a medic or fighting in the frontlines, it’s more important to know where and when you’re needed rather than know what you’re capable of. Even though she could destroy most opponents, Unohana plays her supportive role because that’s what the team needs.”
Reading that got my gears going right away. Knowing one’s role isn’t just something that the Man spouts to keep the rank and file in check. It’s a good rule of thumb to follow for anyone looking to be a part of something greater. But most people take this as a call to greatness, to fulfill their dreams. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless there is.
Examples of Great Role Players Who Focus on What’s Needed
Retsu Unohana is an example of a role player — someone who isn’t in the frontlines, but is able to help the cause significantly by fulfilling a crucial role. In her case, she’s the healer of the Gotei 13. Originally, she was a killer, but she then became a healer. She reveals later on in Bleach that she learned to heal to mend her own injuries so she can last longer in fights and prolong her enjoyment. But she then realized that there was a need for her healing skills.
A role player can become great in a frontline role, but then deliberately take a step back to focus on fulfilling a role for the betterment of the team. One of the greatest role players in all of sports is Dennis Rodman. He was a gifted athlete and could score on command if he wanted to. But he decided to focus on playing defense and getting rebounds. He could box out centers much bigger and taller than him and crash the boards night after night.
He was the sort of player who prided himself in scoring no points and getting 20 to 30 rebounds every night. He cried tears of joy when he won his first Defensive Player of the Year award. This is a man who got no offers to play in high school, worked as a janitor for 4 years, went for any college who decided to throw him a bone, got drafted in the NBA during the second round at 25 years old, and had to work his way to prominence for five years.
Rodman was a 6-foot-8 power forward who dove for loose balls, guarded centers and guards alike, and agitated star players to help his team win. Sure, he would then go party for three nights straight afterwards. But then, he would come back the next game and get all the rebounds and lock down the opposing team’s star player without a problem. He did this without having to either hog the ball or attempt shots needlessly.
I’m sure there are plenty of better examples, but Dennis Rodman is the best example I can come up with since I followed basketball during my childhood in the 90s.
Yes, I’m Bringing This Back to Pro Wrestling
It’s a common theme in the local pro wrestling scene wherein many have come and gone due to not getting what they want from pro wrestling. They focused on not just what they can do, but what they think they can do. They never gave even a passing thought for what is needed, especially in the fledgling Philippine pro wrestling scene.
They saw it as either a short-term fulfillment of childhood dreams or an eventual springboard to WWE. From what I’ve seen, few truly care for the local scene.
This is why I decided to not be a wrestler. When I turned 30, all desire to enter such a profession was gone. I had one amateur kickboxing fight in October 2015 (video of which still exists, and I encourage you to watch and make fun of it) and that was all I needed. Whether it was combat sports or pro wrestling, I no longer wanted to participate as long as concussions were involved. I’d go as far as training for health and experience, and that’s it.
When I was invited into Manila Wrestling Federation as a ring announcer in April 2017, I had no idea what kind of impact I could make in the promotion. All I could do was fulfill my fairly simple responsibility of shouting out names in the ring and keep my eyes peeled for whatever holes crop up. I saw that in MWF Republika 2017, wherein I brought out my video camera and started recording and commentating at the same time.
Meanwhile, as I’ve discussed in my blog post “The Revolving Door,” there have been many people in the local scene, both originals and fresh prospects, who have come and gone. They come in with stars in their eyes, looking to impress with whatever they think they can do. However, for one reason or another, their own understanding of their capabilities and their actual capabilities tend to not match.
Despite that, they try to push through to the point of burning every bridge they see in order to impose their will and get a better spotlight in this incredibly small stage.
I’m physically capable of being a wrestler, even at this age. Those who know me personally can vouch for my physical capabilities. I’ve joined in on training sessions a few times and have shown that I can bump, run the ropes, and do many of the other things quite easily. But I can also say confidently that there’s no need for me to get in there.
I’m not needed there. I’m needed elsewhere. I’m where the promotion needs me to be.
This is just a short blog post where I link an observation in anime to my observations in a field like pro wrestling. I believe the true measure of one’s value in an organization is in their ability to fit in wherever they’re needed. If they only have one or two specific skills, it could be luck that dictates whether that person somehow slots into a fairly unique spot. Otherwise, they’re sharing their spot with a bunch of other people, and that makes them expendable.
You can certainly strive to be the best at something in order to become indispensable. However, not everyone can be the best, so you either play second fiddle or find a way to be useful in something else that few to none are able to fit in. Or if you actually have the guts to do so, you can learn to do that thing and squeeze yourself in, then keep improving in that thing and make yourself indispensable. This is the hard way around, and it’s also the best way to do it.
The great thing about doing it that way is that you show both your ability to learn, your tenacity, and your willingness to be useful to the cause. It makes both you and the team better, yet too few people go through this route because it’s neither immediately rewarding nor personally gratifying. Most people want to shine, and this is a path that’s less flashy and impressive at first.
Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have in the comment section below.
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