The Appeal of Professional Wrestling

Chances are if you clicked on this article you already have a preconceived opinion on the world of professional wrestling.

Perhaps you are an actual wrestling fan, which if you are, welcome and it’s good to know that there are more of our kind out there.

Or perhaps you see wrestling as a sort of sideshow with chair shots galore and silly cartoon-like characters that once dominated the industry. Whatever your opinion may be, everyone is entitled to their own, so yours is completely valid.

For the sake of this article I’m asking you to put aside all your preconceived notions, if only for next 10 or so minutes. The goal of writing this article is not to induce people to watch and enjoy professional wrestling because let’s be honest, it’s not for everyone. Rather the goal is to persuade people to recognize wrestling as a legitimate art form and maybe, just maybe, convince you to respect the world of professional wrestling and its fans alike. So with that, keep an open mind, and sit back as I break down the art that is wrestling and the misconceptions that haunt it.

“It’s Fake”

“You know it’s fake right?”

This is the age-old, tiresome question that is generally the first thing uttered by people who find out that I am indeed a fan of wrestling. Now it’s not the notion of whether or not wrestling is in fact “fake” or as most wrestling fans label it as “scripted”, but it’s the haughtiness and the sense of superiority that comes with the question that truly irks us fans.

Wrestling is one of my passions in life. It is one of the few things that I consider myself to be a so-called expert on.

It just baffles my mind that someone with presumably very little knowledge of the art would insist that the fanatics of said art are unaware of perhaps the most fundamental detail of it while they somehow possess this top secret information that only they know. Passive aggressive…yes. Accurate….absolutely!

In all seriousness though, it’s not a secret that wrestling isn’t a true competitive sport in the sense that all outcomes are pre-determined. Think of your favorite TV show. To enjoy said show you must first suspend your disbelief and allow yourself to escape into a reality different than that of our own. Perhaps this reality is filled with the undead roaming the Earth or perhaps it’s set in the medieval fantasy world of Westeros. Whatever it may be, you would probably be upset if someone walked up to you whilst watching an important scene and said “dude you know this is all fake, right?” Of course it’s fake! The entertainment aspect being stimulated is not that of a real, genuine story, but rather that of a captivating, fictional one. The same principle is true of wrestling.

Wrestling fans take their craft for what it is. We know it could be silly, childish, and downright ludicrous at times…but we don’t care. That’s all a part of the appeal that is wrestling, and we wouldn’t change it for anything. So please, before you go telling anyone that wrestling is fake, simply understand that they do of course know this, and that they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Comparison to UFC

Another assertion that tends to annoy most wrestling fans is the constant comparisons to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), or more specifically UFC.

Don’t get me wrong, this section of the article isn’t intended to bash fans of the UFC as, although I am not a fan myself, I certainly respect it for what it is and understand the appeal associated with it. That being said, nothing drives a wrestling fan crazier (besides maybe calling wrestling fake) than when someone insists that UFC is better because “it’s actually real” or that they are more intelligent or sophisticated because they’re not watching “that fake stuff”.

Mixed martial arts and professional wrestling are two ENTIRELY different entities.

One is a legitimate competitive sport where athletes compete to see who is superior, and one is a scripted TV show where outcomes are pre-determined and the goal is not to beat your opponent to a pulp. To compare WWE to UFC would be like comparing “Remember the Titans” to the NFL. Now this isn’t to take away from a movie like “Remember the Titans” which is an outstanding representation of cinema in its own right, nor is it to take away from professional wrestling which has its followers for diverse reasons. However, it would just seem ridiculous to declare that the NFL is better than “Remember the Titans” because it features “real football” when the goal of said movie is not to depict “actual football”, but rather create an entrancing story for the audience to become engulfed in.

The same holds true for the WWE and the UFC. Their goals are different, their methods are different, and thus their audiences are different. Sure there’s some overlap from time to time. For example, look no further than when Ronda Rousey made a surprise appearance at WrestleMania 31 in a segment featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson where she had a brief scuffle with CBO and daughter of WWE’s chairman Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon. But the difference here is that Rousey was acting as a performer rather than a competitor.

One final point should be made and that is that by no means does referring to wrestling as “pre-determined” or “scripted” take away from the absolutely incredible shape that these performers are in. These athletes, and yes they most certainly are athletes, grind in the gym during most of their free time and even former NFL players turned WWE superstars such as Mojo Rawley have admitted in the past that it was difficult to adapt to the WWE lifestyle due to concerns over physical shape. In an interview with German radio station RauteMusik, Rawley stated that the two biggest differences in training for professional wrestling and football were increased cardio demands and the lack of an offseason. These men and women put their bodies on the line every time they step into the so-called “squared circle” and this is something often overlooked when outsiders view the world of professional wrestling. Not only is each of these competitors legitimately getting hurt during many bouts, but there have been numerous cases of career-ending and unfortunately even fatal injuries suffered in professional wrestling matches all over the world. It’s a sad reality, but one that hopefully puts the world of wrestling into a whole new perspective for those who don’t take these so-called “actors” seriously.

The Overall Appeal

I will conclude this piece by finally explaining to those who still might not understand why I am in fact a fan of professional wrestling. As I’ve asserted multiple times throughout the last couple sections, wrestling is an art. At its core, it is the incredible combination of athletic ability, coupled with breathtaking maneuvers and choreography (I could hear the haters chuckling), and most of all the ability to captivate the audience with enthralling narratives featuring good vs. evil, friend vs. foe, and all of the above that make wrestling the enjoyable and compelling art form that it could be at its best. Now this of course isn’t always the case as there have been countless storylines throughout its history that haven’t necessarily stuck true to this outline.

But let’s be optimists here. When everything goes right, and the stars align, and the planets take shape in the form of a giant happy face staring directly at a singular wrestling ring in the middle of a stadium packed with people, this is when wrestling is at its purest and I will always insist that there is no feeling like it in the world.

A compelling wrestling match has the ability to take you out of reality and engulf your being into a world where there are no troubles, and where nothing matters except the performers inside that ring, the chants of the almost 100,000 in attendance, and the sound of the referee’s hand hitting that mat for the 1…2…3.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the world of professional wrestling.

I hope that this has at least inspired you to become a little more open minded about not only wrestling, but potentially other interests of those around you. Or perhaps you were able to get a good laugh out of seeing someone so entranced in this “fake world” of professional wrestling, that you almost feel sorry for them. Either way, I hope you were entertained.

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