26.05.2016 13:58

The misunderstanding of profesional wrestling

Autor: Janusz Dudys | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

An open letter to "non-wrestling fans"

Dear reader,

what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear professional wrestling? Or rather just wrestling. Two roided up meatheads in underpants that are beating each other with steel chairs and are cheered by a bunch of toothless rednecks, maybe? If you count yourself in that group do continue reading because this writer promises that while in some cases, there might be some truth to that, most of the time there is more than meets the eye.

This writer came in contact with wrestling in the mid 90’s on satellite TV, watching Hulk Hogan defeating some villain in dramatic fashion. Being totally amazed by the heroism of the bloodied Hulkster, he held these images in his head for years, even though he wouldn’t see Hogan wrestle for almost a decade. He didn’t see anybody wrestle for years truth be told, as the wrestling broadcast he had watched was probably cancelled.

credit: wwe.com

However, in circa 2003, while shuffling through late night programing, probably looking for some adult oriented content (cough! cough!), he found it again. It was WWE: Smackdown!, the second longest running episodic TV show in history, and yes, he was totally amazed again. The amazement basically continues to this day, even though his focus and mainly his perception of the business has changed drastically (Hulk Hogan sucks big time).

Nevertheless, that’s just one pretty uneventful story of how a wrestling fan came to be. One of millions. This writer would love to introduce professional wrestling in an easy, straightforward way, but, in the end, would hate to bore with historical facts and rules of the sport. One thing everyone must know though, history is very important in pro-wrestling, legends of the past are inducted in various halls of fame every year. So, let’s just keep it short and to the point, shall we?

As pro-wrestling might be usually associated with current pop-culture and the “city lights” of America, it is quite surprising that its origins date back to 19th-century Europe, where it was a popular form of entertainment. We could go back to Greco-Roman wrestling, or amateur wrestling as it’s called in the US, but that would be the aforementioned boring.

Never reaching the popularity it once had in Europe, it morphed into a cultural phenomenon in Northern America, Japan and Mexico. Where wrestling events can pull in audiences of over 50 000 spectators. Even 100 000 in the USA, or about 20 in a school gym, but that’s a different story. These numbers seem pretty high right? Well, wrestling has a tremendous amount of haters too. Surprisingly.

credit: wwe.comThe most usual negativity wrestling is blasted with is that: “Wrestling is fake! It’s a fake sport! It’s not even a sport!” Let me assure you, dear reader, pro-wrestling is not fake, just google “Mick Foley hell in a cell fall”. Did you? Cool, and yes he still lives and can walk. These people put their lives on the line every single night, basically like in every other sport. So, where’s the difference? My dearest of readers, pro-wrestling is not fake, it’s predetermined. Big difference.

In every promotion (that’s how wrestling companies are called), and there is a big bunch of them all over the world, there is a person referred to as the booker. He is basically in charge of the show, he determines who wins (or gets over in wrestling terms) and who loses. There are numerous factors that affect his decisions. Now people may think “Poor guy, coming out in front of these people knowing he’s gonna lose. Sad face.” Ultimately, it is true, that guy or woman (women’s wrestling is blooming in the US nowadays) knows he/she is going to lose, but almost every single time it has no effect on their performance. Because, to these individuals, there is no bigger privilege and joy than going out there and perform as best they can, and after a hard hitting match, when the fans are giving a standing ovation, there is no shame in losing, quite the opposite actually.

After reading this, you might think: “Okay, so it’s not fake, but it’s still not real. How can you watch something that’s not real?” Don’t we have a big documentary fan over here? Because movies aren’t, for the most part, accounts of real-life events. Neither are TV shows, theatre or novels for that matter, then why are we watching/reading them?

All of the above mentioned media and pro-wrestling sustain the willing suspension of disbelief. We willingly forget that what is happening in front of us isn’t real, because of that we invest in it emotionally and are able to enjoy it. The moves are choreographed, we know how they work, and we know they are designed to protect the wrestlers who’re taking them. But when the guy does such a great job selling the move (simulate pain and/or impact resulting from the move, wrestling term) then who cares? It’s basically the same thing like that time when you cried at the end of The Green Mile.

Professional wrestling is sometimes called physical theatre. This description has some truth to it. Safe for the camera crew or the event security, everyone involved in the show itself plays a certain part. From the ring announcers, time keepers, referees, commentators, wrestlers themselves to other on screen personnel. Everyone has a role and combined they tell a story.

credit: wwe.com

Admittedly, not every match has the potential to be good, let alone a five star match (the best rating a match can get). However, from time to time, there is one that allows the seven year old in you to come forth and, at that moment, you don’t care about the right execution of the moves or the technical abilities of the wrestlers, you just go: “This is awesome! This is awesome!”

This is but a brief introduction to the world of pro-wrestling. Much more could be written about it, just search all the web sites dedicated to the sport and no, my dear reader, no toothless rednecks are involved in creating the sites. This writer doesn’t know if he made you think otherwise about it, or if he made you interested, but he defended it as best he could and that’s what matters most to him right now.

Best hard-hitting regards,

A wrestling enthusiast

Klíčová slova: profesional wrestling fandom fans hulk mick foley

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