In the eyes of modern society, wrestling fans sit somewhere between pedophiles and cancer victims.
In the eyes of modern society, wrestling fans sit somewhere between pedophiles and cancer victims. You pity them but are nevertheless disgusted by their fetish – watching muscular, oily men pretend to fight each other in a ring for a shiny belt. Not even in Sir Elton John’s wettest dreams could a more homo-erotic scene unfold. The juxtaposition of violence and campness is enough not make most people turn the heads and laugh, but to do so would be to miss the point of wrestling. It’s ENTERTAINMENT FOLKS!
When the cat came out the bag some years ago most people wondered ‘If it’s fake, why do you still watch?’. To them I reply ‘for the same reason as you watch Eastenders/Sex and the City/Dexter/etc’. Just because it is not ‘real’ (i.e. the outcome is predetermined) doesn’t mean it’s not damn good fun to watch. And yes, I cringe when some wrestlers try and show an emotion more complex than anger when clearly it is above their talent threshold. But it is for the same reason we all cringe at bad actors on TV and film – because they remind us that it isn’t real. Good wrestling is akin to good acting, when done well you completely forget it is fake and are totally immersed in the story.
This is where wrestling trumps Boxing and UFC. Boxing fans watched in agony as David Haye and Audley Harrison circled each other for 3 rounds as if they were magnetically opposed to each other. And even in UFC, fights can descend into mat based wrestling (oh the irony) which can send audiences to sleep. WWE stands for World Wrestling ENTERTAINMENT, which is exactly what they do.
In wrestling people jump off ladders, go through tables and perform a whole array of moves which, if done incorrectly, might actually hurt someone. Believe me, when it does go wrong the results are not pretty. Their lives do hang in the balance because not only are they actors but they are also stuntmen as well as athletes and they deserve far more respect than most people are willing to give. Just search ‘Mick Foley Hell in a Cell’ on Youtube and you will see the lengths these guys go to amaze and astound.
On Wrestlemania, the grandest stage of them all, they are prepared to lay it on the line to provide the most spectacular viewing event of the wrestling year. Cynics will sneer as they will only see semi-naked, oily men play fighting but I will see something completely different. I will be cheering on CM Punk, the rebellious anti-hero, as he take on Chris Jericho, the arrogant villain, for the WWE title and the right to claim themself as the best in the world. I will be on tenterhooks as the veterans Triple H and the Undertaker engage in a rematch that will close the door on one of these two giants of pro wrestling. For the main event, my childhood hero, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson returns to the WWE to take on today’s biggest star, John Cena. The pin-up of the ‘Attitude’ Era of the 90’s goes up against the spearhead of family friendly wrestling in a clash of ages and values. Most of you probably read that and went ‘Huh?’. But to even the mildly curious I beg of you come and join in the fun, because at the end of the day it’s just harmless entertainment.