A Closer Look at Pro Wrestling
Violent, crass and stupid are among the most common terms to describe professional wrestling on television. But as fake as it can get, wrestling mania remains one of modern society’s entertaining pastime. BMCC undergrad Tricia Tan Yan Jun writes.
An obvious indictment against its staged nature, however, as the old saying goes, one man’s poison is another man’s pleasure, and to the genre’s hordes of fans, the millions who tune in every week, the thousands who throng stadiums and arenas in anticipation of witnessing their favorites battle one another and then proceed to purchase the merchandise themed after these wrestlers and to the very wrestlers themselves, “the business “as insiders put it is much more than mindless entertainment indeed to them pro wrestling is something more akin to an art form
An art form? You might say, pro wrestling couldn’t be further away from anything resembling an art form but consider, for a second the fact that professional wrestling is in essence a performance, all performances are an art to a greater or lesser extent, sure it might not bear the intricate sophistication of something like say, ballet but at their bare minimum, both are similar to one another in their attempt to convey a story to the audience by way of wordless actions.
To truly understand the appeal of professional wrestling, one has to first examine the mechanics of the matches themselves. Characteristically, a professional wrestling match will consist of a 5 to 10 minute bout between a baby face or face for short, he or she takes up the role of the hero, the good guy the one who the fans cheer on and a heel, who is the designated villain whom the fans antagonize. While made to resemble a legitimate sporting contest, in truth the outcome of the match has already been determined beforehand and the wrestlers are to then play out their respective roles as they grapple one another , exchanging holds , strikes, throws and slams in an exhibition of choreography not unlike a fight scene out of an action movie, however unlike a movie or even a staged play for that matter, a professional wrestling match does not adhere strictly to a prepared script with only the ending of the match and several high points or “spots “as they are known among the fans and wrestlers being predetermined, the rest of the match is down to the wrestlers themselves to work out as the match go along.
Psychology plays an important part in the ebb and flow of a wrestling match, for the most part, wrestling fans are aware of the fact that the outcome of the matches have been set long before the opening bell rings, the true appeal lies in the interchange of actions between the two players on stage, the face in keeping with character will usually be the one who attempts to garner a victory through his own abilities and will for the most part fight fair, the heel on the other hand, in keeping with his villainous character is open to more dastardly tactics and will attempt to employ his dirty tricks at every possible opportunity. The key factor to the enjoyment of a wrestling match is the suspension of disbelief and the quality of a wrestling match is largely determined by how much the wrestlers are able to assist the viewer in achieving that suspension of disbelief , it’s the same dynamic that is present in magic shows and theatrical productions, with seasoned wrestlers being able to recognize the significance in tiny details like facial expressions, the way he walks and approaches an opponent and crowd interaction and use these in order to add a touch of authenticity to their matches.
The lack of any element of true competition in professional wrestling should not take away from the fact that these performers are indeed actual athletes who train for years in order to reach the level they are able to perform at, many may deride the staged nature of professional wrestling , but a closer examination may give one a renewed appreciation of the work done by the wrestlers as they are basically looking out for one another and protecting one another when performing the stunts, all the while trying to make it appear as they throw all caution to the wind as they bludgeon one another into submission.
In spite of years of derision from the mainstream professional wrestling still maintains a large following among people of all ages and walks of life , it is a combination of adrenaline pumping action and the appeal of being taken on an exhilarating yet acceptable break from reality combined with the innate appreciation of the skill and effort wrestlers put into their craft which keep them coming back for more.