Monday 24 August 2009

Wrestling is Awesome

Wrestling is awesome. It's something that frankly doesn't get said enough. I'm twenty-five years old this year, and yet I can't help but exclaim how much wrestling rules. By all accounts, it's something that I should have grown out of quite a long time ago, but I just can't seem to get away from my appreciation for the sport. Yes, it's a sport, get over it.

Wrestling has been a part of my entertainment fix since I was about 9. I started watching wrestling on a regular basis when we got Sky Sports installed in our house as part of our cable package. As soon as I could work our video player, I started to record the Pay Per Views (however, I was cheap at the age of 11, and would simply have one video that I'd have to watch before the next PPV in order to be able to justify recording over it once the next one rolled around). At the age of about 12 (in 1996, the very beginning of Shawn Michaels as a main-eventer), I stopped watching for a reason that is unknown to me now. I got back into it in 1998, during the Austin 3:16 era (probably largely down to the fact that Stone Cold Steve Austin was absolutely awesome as an entertainer).

I forget when I stopped watching again, but I remember why I got back into it. Pay Per Views became social occasions at a friend's house, and many was the time we'd all congregate at his house, first stopping off at the local all-night garage in order to stock up on caffeine and sugar. Half the time, the fun was the conversations we'd have on the way to the garage (one particular one that sticks in my head was the time we played "What would happen if the wrestlers got injured and had to sell real estate for a living?" - we were laughing so hard that night just for the terrible Hulk Hogan impressions we managed to get going).

Love the multi-coloured gloves, Hulk. Terrifying.

See, even now I'm thinking I should be watching wrestling. I've been months without watching it, and can go months or even years without watching any pro wrestling whatsoever. However, as soon as a friend says "Oh, Wrestlemania's on soon", I'm making plans and arrangements to be free for that evening, usually involving swapping shifts and helping relatives and close friends understand why it's so important that I see the Hardy Boys jump off various tall items.

I have never in my life heard a convincing argument as to why people shouldn't watch and enjoy professional wrestling on a regular basis, either. I've heard the arguments, sure, but I've never heard a convincing one. The main one I seem to hear quite a bit is "oh, you know it's all fake, why do you watch it?" I take issue with this for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the nerdy reason: Yes, wrestling is scripted, in the sense that they go out to the ring knowing who will win the match. They generally also know if there's a particular thing that's going to happen that will have an outcome in the match (someone running out, that sort of thing). However, they don't know which moves they will do and when they will do them. That's all improvised as they go along, which is pretty bloody impressive when you think about it. Most entertainers will happily admit that they don't improvise a large amount of the things they do live.

Also, the risks they take are pretty genuine. Are you familiar with a piledriver? If you're not, let me explain. Taken from Eric Moreau's The Squared Circle sourcebook, the expansion of which we have reviewed in the past on E14, the piledriver is as follows:

The attacker applies a standing head scissors on the victim and grabs around their midsection. The attacker lifts the victim up so the are upside down. The attacker then drops the victim head first to the mat, either by sitting down or dropping to their knees.

Even READING that makes me ache. Secondly, the argument that "it's all fake and thus shouldn't be watched" doesn't really work with any television, as without shows that aren't real, there'd be pretty much nothing to watch. You'd be restricted to wildlife documentaries and shows about food and history (awesome though they are). What sort of television schedule is complete without something overblown and fantastical like CSI , Heroes or Friday Night with Jonathan Ross ?

What bugs me the most about the "it's fake" argument is summed up by an anecdote from a stand-up show I performed a few years ago. I told the audience I liked wrestling, and asked if anyone in the audience was a fan. A few people chuckled, murmured soft agreements, but one guy had a resounding "God NO!" I was intrigued and pressed further. I then asked him "What do you watch on TV then mate?" to which he replied "Football, and the wife watches soap operas". My reply was simple; "And you mean to tell me you think pro wrestling is fucking fake?"

As far as football is concerned, I'm a fan in some small capacity, but I admit fully that the sport is damned ridiculous at times. The transfer fees have become so large that it's pretty much like using Monopoly money as currency. The players take one little knock to the shin and go down like they've taken a 12-gauge in the chest. And don't even get me started on why soap operas suck more than wrestling. Face it, you'd watch religiously if Coronation Street had people settling their differences in an Inferno match, or if Eastenders' Peggy Mitchell solved her problems by jumping off the odd ladder.

However, if you could take Dot Cotton in Lycra, you're a better man than I.


  1. Now, as you know, I fucking hate sport, and would rather watch a Royal Rumble than an FA Cup Final any day of the year, but even I have to take umbrage at your assertion that wrestling is a sport. Is wrestling entertainment? Sure it is! Not my favourite form of entertainment, by any means, but nobody could deny that it was entertainment and involved a great deal of skill from its performers... but a sport? Doesn't there have to be an element of COMPETITION for something to be classed as a sport? You yourself state in this article that the results of the match are fixed in advance... therefore, it's NOT a sport. It is undeniably athletic to a large degree, but without an element of GENUINE competition, it simply doesn't qualify as a sport, no matter how much you cry. This probably isn't reason enough not to watch it, especially for a sport-hater like me, but it just IS NOT A SPORT. You must learn to accept this. I feel it will bring you closer to your love of wrestling, not further away...

  2. I remember watching some modern wrestling in the mid-80's and thinking, "Look, they're pulling superhero combat moves." Didn't make me a fan, but it made think it might watching now and again to get some visual images should I ever start GM'ing superheroes again. ;)