Editorial : Professional Wrestling : Pseudo sport or live performance art?

Professional wrestling. It’s fake right? It depends where you draw the line really. Yes, the winners and losers are decided in advance. And yes, the aim is to make the contest look as real as possible without hurting your opponent, but really, the pro wrestling world has been very transparent about that since the mid 1990s. So why is it people still can’t get over the stigma?

Think you’ve never watched professional wrestling? Think again. In many senses you already have. If you’ve ever watched a Rocky movie and felt emotionally invested, you’ve pretty much watched a wrestling match, the same can be said for the 2011 Tom Hardy film Warrior. The key difference however, is a film performance is prerecorded, whereas professional wrestling is usually all performed in front of a live audience.

No reshoots, no takes, all one seamless (most of the time) exchange that unfolds in real time. A professional wrestler is one part athlete, one part Hollywood stuntman, and one part rock star. Living life on the road out of a suitcase, making towns and earning their way, all while trying to maintain their bodies through intense physical trauma.

For a large number of fans, what goes on in front of the curtain is only a small part of what keeps them on the hook. Many die hards got into wrestling when they were young, but start to lose interest in the business as they come to the realisation that the product is “fake”. Some feel it insulting to their intelligence, to actively partake in something which is known to be rigged.

A select few however stick around when they realise the backstage politics and the stories of these extraordinary lives are just as important and interesting than the actual in ring product. Stories such as Arn Anderson stabbing Sid Vicious with a pair of scissors in a Blackburn hotel (this stuff is mental and fully backed up via police reports), or the famous “plane ride from hell” in which a number of WWE performers started a massive brawl on a flight back from the UK.

Now more than ever you can watch what you want. Should you ever find yourself with a fleeting interest, or you watched as a kid and still remember your favourites, then please just take a closer look. This isn’t the same wrestling you’re used to. If you solely watch WWE, you’re likely to be put off, but dig a little deeper to companies like Progress, ICW, Lucha Underground, New Japan, or AAA and you may be pleasantly surprised. The level of athleticism has never been higher and the quality of matches is beyond almost anything the 80s or 90s has to offer.

If you want to hear more on this subject, join us as we sink deeper into the history and the “why?” behind professional wrestling on the next episode of Staring at The Lights, and keep up to date @thelightspod on twitter and @staringatthelights on Instagram.