Professional wrestling is, when you stop and think about it for any significant length of time, a silly form of entertainment. Grown adults strip down to either tight-fitting pants or to trunks – some female wrestlers go with outfits similar to bikinis for matches – and then engage in play-fighting in front of spectators who willingly spend their money in order to attend events. What is perhaps just as humorous as is the actual spectacle of pro wrestling is that the cat is out of the bag as it pertains to the form's gimmick. Everybody knows that the in-ring action and the booked feuds are fake. It is no longer a secret.
The pro wrestling business was oh so different decades ago. Fans and even journalists, to a point, were in on the lie that what occurred during matches and during events was legitimate, and thus it was easy for everybody to suspend their disbelief and merely enjoy what they were watching. Kayfabe, the term used to describe the act of keeping the perception that pro wrestling is real and not staged, died a long time ago, and it has since been mocked on worldwide television by companies such as World Wrestling Entertainment, World Championship Wrestling and TNA Wrestling.
The harsh reality of the situation is that there are, in 2015, better entertainment options out there that make pro wrestling irrelevant and easy to ignore. Along with countless video games that can be played alone or with strangers from all around the world via the magic of the Internet, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu help to fill any void left when a person decides to give up on following pro wrestling. Worst of all is that wrestling as it was known years ago has gone away and been replaced by a product that is stale, dull and not worth following.
*Before you neglect this list and just deem me a hater of professional wrestling, take a look at this list that I wrote, which outlines the 15 reasons to love wrestling.
15 Wrestling Used to Be Better
Remember the days of the wrestling territories, back when The Four Horsemen would travel around the country and portray a role of real-life tough guys that you would not want to meet in a dark alley? They are now long gone. Superstar acts such as Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Goldberg and The Rock have been replaced by cookie-cutter acts that more so seem to be playing on-screen roles than they are actual tough guys capable of taking care of business inside of the ring. The industry has changed, and not for the better.
Ultimate Fighting Championship Women's Champion Ronda Rousey participates in photo shoots and other non-fighting activities, but the mixed martial arts company also treats her with respect and as a fighter who has no equal and one worthy of being watched as much as any male signed by the company. That is, more often than not, not the case in pro wrestling, a form of entertainment that utilizes females as eye candy sent out to the ring to provide a bathroom break for viewers. It is a shame, especially when the individuals involved are incredible athletes who can go inside of the ring.
While modern society has taken steps to eliminate this problem from the industry, elements of racism still manage to creep into mainstream pro wrestling every now and again. Take “The New Day” stable that is currently in the WWE, a group that was, in storyline, put together largely because the three men in the group share the same ethnicity. Older generations of pro wrestling companies can be difficult to watch as it pertains to the treatment of some of the talent, and the WWE is but one organization that has a history of racism allegations.
You don't have to be an active follower of the business to have at least somewhat of an idea of just how shady the pro wrestling industry can be. Outside of stories that revolve around the backstage politics that keep performers from rising on the card are the tales of substance use, sexism, racism, physical and emotional harassment of talent that have been told by former wrestlers over the decades. Fans would point out that the wrestling world has done well to clean itself up over the past ten years, but nobody who doubts that should be criticized.
11 Death of WCW
Say whatever you will about how terrible the World Championship Wrestling product got in the dying days of the company, WCW provided a platform and an option different than the WWE, and the demise of WCW changed the face of pro wrestling for the worse. Fans from all around the world chose to tune out following the final edition of Nitro, and many of them never returned to the product. That reality is reflected in the ratings and buyrates for wrestling shows.
10 Chris Benoit
The despicable incident involving Chris Benoit and the deaths of the wrestler and of his wife and child put a worldwide spotlight on the plenty that is wrong and deplorable in the pro wrestling industry. Discussions on matters such as head injuries, the use of illegal substance and of real-life violence all put a dark cloud over the product, and no fan could be blamed for viewing the product in a different way following everything about the Benoit story that was made public. Any supposed movie on Benoit would be a tough watch.
WWE and other federations can take steps to limit injuries during matches, but the truth remains that there is no safe way to comfortably take bumps for routine moves let alone for some of the finishers that exist in wrestling today. There used to be a time when a standard power slam, belly-to-belly suplex or a bulldog would finish off opponents. Now, wrestlers are asked to perform flips off of the top rope and to take dangerous finishers such as powerbombs and tombstone piledrivers. Wrestling may not be real, but it is undeniably dangerous even for those who have been properly trained.
The saying about there being too much of a good thing is proven to be true by pro wrestling. WWE offers five hours of original content on cable television every week, and that does not include everything that is available on the WWE Network. That is just one company and does not count TNA Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling or other organizations that broadcast shows around the world. There are reasons why programs such as The Americans and Mad Men only offer so many new shows per season, and the pro wrestling business seriously needs to consider a different model.
7 WWE Network
WWE Network is a double-edged sword for that promotion and for pro wrestling, in general. While it allows fans to stream live pay-per-view events and also go back and watch content from years ago, it also offers reminders of how much better wrestling was back in the day than what WWE presents on programs such as Raw and SmackDown. The WWE Network also, as of the posting of this piece, continues to lack much of the older shows possessed by the company, a fact that has resulted in some fans choosing to cancel subscriptions until the network posts desired videos.
The top pay-per-view event in the world of combat sports in 2015 will feature two of the best boxers of their generation going one-on-one inside of the ring to find out who, among them, is the better fighter. In World Wrestling Entertainment, the biggest show of the year will have a match involving a character who is a living deadman battling it out against a bearded cult leader who carries a rocking chair to and from the ring for reasons that remain a mystery to anybody but him. Wrestling, in some instances, puts the worst parts of comic books inside of the ring and on television broadcasts
5 The Moves
“If wrestling was real” is the beginning of a statement that is used to criticize certain aspects of the business. Example: If wrestling was real, why on earth would a competitor hop onto the top rope and execute an aerial maneuver such as a shooting star press or a 450-splash when he could attempt a safer and more logical offensive move on a prone opponent? You never see a boxer or mixed martial artist trying to pull off such moves, and the reason for that is that doing so makes absolutely no sense when involved in an actual fight. Some of the wrestling moves you see during matches are downright ridiculous.
4 Wrestling is Dead
The reality of the situation in the spring of 2015 is that pro wrestling as it was once known is dead and buried, and it has been replaced by what is known as “sports entertainment.” No intelligent individual is unaware that wrestling feuds and wrestling matches are not scripted, but at least fans were, back in the day, sold products that were somewhat realistic. Sports entertainment is, at times, written to make fun of itself and the fact that outcomes are determined behind the scenes and not during matches, which insults those who spend money on events.
The perception had by some sports fans that professional boxing is an art form that passed away a long time ago could not be more incorrect. Hours upon hours of live boxing action airs on free television on a weekly basis, and that does not count premium networks such as HBO and Showtime. What is being advertised as the biggest pay-per-view event in the history of combat sports is neither a wrestling show nor is it a mixed martial arts card. It will be a boxing match involving Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, a fight that will draw attention even from casual sports fans.
2 Mixed Martial Arts
Want to watch a form of entertainment that involves top-tier athletes calling each out leading up to them standing inside of a venue and squaring off in a man-versus-man battle? I'd like to recommend the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Bellator and other mixed martial arts organizations to you. Unlike in pro wrestling, the in-cage and in-ring action offered by MMA is very real. Guys land hard strikes, and the submission moves utilized during fights hurt and hurt badly. MMA has everything found in pro wrestling, and it also provides the excitement that comes from a real sport.
1 It's Fake
The top reason to hate wrestling will forever be that it is not real. Performers do not, in fact, hate each other, nor are they attempting to legitimately hurt their opponents. Outcomes are scripted and predetermined by bookers and promoters based upon their preferences on whatever day, often to the dismay of fans who spend their hard-earned money to hopefully watch their favorites emerge from these fakes fights as the victors. Having an active imagination is one thing. Watching grownups pretend to battle against each other is, for detractors, ridiculous.
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