You switch on the TV and the first image that hits you is this big guy, in outlandish wrestling attire, body-slamming his rival through a table! Whoa, that must hurt, you think, as you see the other guy dazed and flattened. And then, in the next 2 minutes, you see said dazed and flattened wrestler unloading on his rival and knocking him out cold. Welcome to the world of professional wrestling.
The beatings seem real, but there’s no bruising, let alone any blood. And so we ask ourselves: is wrestling really authentic? Or is it all one big sham, a scripted piece of flamboyant chest-thumping that tries to pass itself off as entertaining and macho reality? And if that is the case, how is it managing to draw the crowds, year after year? These are the questions we will attempt to answer here.
It’s All One Big Soap Opera
Let’s cut to the chase right away. It would be naïve – almost silly – to imagine that all the wrestling that you see on your television screen or live at your local arena is real. There is enough evidence – in the form of leaks and also admissions by existing and mostly former professional wrestlers – that state clearly that this is all scripted.
There is a script for every show – the lines are written out before the show, the wins and losses are decided beforehand as well. It is a game that everyone plays, and gets paid for. There is a team in place brainstorming possible storylines. There are professional scriptwriters at work round the clock churning out content.
It is one big soap opera and there are good guys and bad guys. And they all take turns, as you may have seen over the years, switching roles. The bad guy newcomer, at the end of 2 years for instance, is the champion. And then, betrayed by his allies, he turns over a new leaf and becomes the true champ. There are fans to please and merchandise to sell.
The thing is, whether it’s all for show or not, there’s really no denying the entertainment factor. Otherwise other thriving sectors such as online casino operators wouldn’t be offering loads of wrestling themed games with no deposit slots bonuses.
And Then There’s Reality Involved Too
One thing you have to admit; there is an element of reality involved. Yes, it is true that the wrestlers practice their craft – this includes their patented moves and the various counters to them – relentlessly till they perfect it. There is coordination and synchronization between them, with the referee helping out at times. But there are times when the blood is real.
The truth is, all professional wrestlers are stuntmen in their own right. The moves that they make are possible only because of the hundreds of hours of practice and effort they put in. Countless are the times when the bruises and the blood are genuine but the way they are triggered isn’t. It is all ‘part of the narrative’ and that is where the years of training help out. A number of pros, from organizations like the WWE, have admitted to using a blade on their bodies to introduce a cut to cause bleeding.
In Professional Wrestling, it is Finally Kayfabe
In professional wrestling it is finally Kayfabe most of the time. This term implies depicting a simulated or contrived piece of action as genuine or even legitimate. Kayfabe doesn’t limit itself to physical actions alone; it goes on to encompass on-screen personality building as well. The psychotic and vicious hell raiser that you see on screen is just the personality that the wrestler plays; in reality he could be the nicest guy around. It is a character they portray and they stay true to it, for everyone’s sake.
Of course, there are times when a wrestler may step away from the Kayfabe and reveal their true self. But with so much acting and role-playing going around, who is to know when he or she is doing that? It will, to the untrained or ignorant eye, seem like part of the charade again.
And there are times when things go wrong, too. One of the most famous wrestlers of the WWE (then WWF) tragically met his end in the ring, when the grand overhead entry went wrong, and he fell down 78 feet to the ring and passed away later in hospital.
If It’s Fake and Scripted, Why is It Still Popular?
So now one thing has been established; there is a whole lot of ‘fake’ in professional wrestling. Now you are faced with the inevitable question – how is it that people still watch it, week after week? How are the WWE, and the other organizations of its kind – like Impact Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), for instance – able to sell out shows week after incredible week across their respective countries, and run multimillion dollar moneymakers on television?
The answer may seem illogical, but it is a fact – people throng to many of these shows and events despite knowing that it is all fake and scripted for 2 reasons – everybody loves a good story, and most people respect the fact that it takes years of rigorous training and effort to pull off what these wrestling supermen do with seemingly effortless ease week after week.
One could even go so far as to say that doing the scripted stuff is infinitely harder than just getting into a genuine good ol’ brawl. The wrestlers portray roles, like in a movie – only here is it live and at repeated intervals, making it easier for you to identify with them, form loyalties and rivalries and become fans. Professional wrestling, at the end of it all, is a business, and business is booming.