So, a few years ago I had a blog. I called it The OZ Mouthpiece (yes, I know. You don’t have to say anything).
I wrote on it consistently for quite a long time, and in that time, I was lucky enough to start writing for a couple of other websites, and also to get some good feedback on what I was writing from people I looked up to.
One of the posts that I wrote, was about what Professional Wrestling means to me, and I thought I would share that post with you here.
*ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE OZ MOUTHPIECE BLOG*
What is it about wrestling that makes us, as wrestling fans, so enamored with it? So loyal to one particular wrestler, or brand? What keeps us coming back, even when the product is not at the level we feel like it should be, or know it has been at in the past?
What makes us so passionate?
There really is no simple answer to the question. Wrestling is so many things combined into one. It’s sport. It’s drama. It’s spectacle. It’s an episodic story. It’s fantasy. Whenever I’ve tried to describe pro-wrestling, I’ve always had a hard time. But I’ve thought about it, and to me, the best way to describe wrestling is “a dramatic performance of athletic competition”.
So why do we love it so much? I mean let’s think about it. We know it’s not a real “sport” in the same sense as let’s say, the UFC is. We know that the outcomes to the matches are pre-determined and wrestler’s win/loss records aren’t what determines what spot they get on the card. And we know that the wrestler’s are selling, and not really getting punched in the face or kicked in the head.
Yet, despite all that, we love it. We defend it to those who tell us it’s “fake”.
Wrestling is so unique. Where else can you find the combination of sport, drama, and suspension of disbelief? There’s something for everyone, from the hardcore fans who want to see blood and violence, to the wrestling purists who love seeing brilliant competitive wrestling, to those who are more interested in the developing storylines and rivalries. There’s even something for the kids.
And I think the kids aspect might have a lot to do with why us wrestling fans stay so loyal. I’m sure a lot of you, like me, started watching wrestling when you were a kid. Watching these larger than life “superhero” type figures like Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ultimate Warrior, the Road Warriors, Demolition etc .. completely getting sucked into the stories, cheering the good guys, booing the bad guys. So now when we watch it, it maybe reminds us of being kids and how awesome it was watching wrestling when we were young.
The loyalty thing is another big part of what makes wrestling so unique and amazing. Think about a character like The Undertaker. He has been around for 22 years, growing and changing as the years go by, maturing with us as we grew up in a sense. And what about Hulk Hogan? He made his debut as “The Hulk” in the late 70’s. That’s over 40 years on our television sets. I can’t think of any other sport, and just about any other tv show where you can see the same person on a weekly basis for that amount of time. Maybe some soap operas, but that’s about it.
Wrestling is kind of known as “male soap opera” anyway isn’t it?
So why do we love it so much? Another reason is the storylines. The very best storylines are things that everyone can connect with. It helps when you have talented guys in the stories, but the stories themselves have to be engaging and relatable. And wrestling has that in droves. How many people can relate to Austin vs McMahon? The right answer is everybody, at least on some level. The obvious is the employee of the evil boss, but in a more general sense it’s about standing up to a bully.
CM Punk’s shoot story-line in 2011 was along the same vain. He wanted change, he was speaking to the wrestling community that had been screaming for a change for years. We could relate to him because he was saying exactly what we thought.
On the flipside of this, there are also the storylines that are just.. cool. Let’s talk about Undertaker again. His rivalries and storylines are a little more fantastical, not so much set in reality, but we still connect to this character. If we didn’t, there’s no way he would still be around, and still having career defining matches. Look at Undertaker vs Kane for example. That storyline involved supernatural powers, coming back from the dead, and very demonic, gothic undertones. But, in a more simplistic way, it was about two brothers fighting about who’s stronger/tougher/better. It was about betrayal. About a father figure abandoning someone who looks up to him. And THOSE are things that all of us can relate to in some way.
Wrestling is a contradiction. They want us to suspend disbelief and believe what is happening, that everything is real. Yet they give us these storylines that are beyond what could realistically happen. Take Jericho and Punk this week on Raw. If, in real life, somebody hit another man in the back of the head with a bottle of Jack Daniels and broke it on his head.. a: the man hit with the bottle would be in hospital, concussed or worse, and b: the man who used the bottle would be in jail. But despite this, we believe. We sit totally taken in by all this. It’s yet another reason why we love it. We can see things in a pseudo-realistic setting that we’d never see in any other televised program. Where else can you see a man getting dropped face-first on thumbtacks?
Here’s the other thing. Those people who aren’t fans of wrestling. They tell us it’s fake, it’s scripted, it’s not real.. the guys don’t get hurt. They ask how we could watch it knowing it’s “fake”. But, what they don’t understand is that we know that already, and that’s a part of why we love it.
Watching the stories unfold, watching how these guys connect moves, use psychology to elicit a reaction, and tell a story in the ring. Sure, we usually have a favourite that we want to win, but it’s not based
So why do I love wrestling..? I love it because it’s entertainment. It’s a way to escape into this world of hyper-reality. It’s given me so many amazing memories. It’s unique. There’s nothing else like it in the world. And I don’t care what people say, non-fans can tell me it’s fake and stupid until they’re blue in the face. I don’t care.
I love it, because it’s the best thing going today.
Stay tuned for more soon!