Professional wrestling is as polarizing a form of entertainment as is reality television. Those who follow the form of sports entertainment do so 52 weeks out of the year and they do so without shame, not that there is anything wrong with being a follower of pro wrestling. Wrestling, truth be told, has everything one could want from any television show, movie, theater performance or any other similar event. It offers moderate to, in some cases, heavy amounts of violence for those who are into that sort of thing. Wrestling has intriguing storylines that are build around feuds. There is, at times, even a little bit of sex.
It is understandable why some would dislike or even be repelled by pro wrestling. The in-ring art is, for starters, completely scripted, and it is a mistake made by one of the individuals inside of the ring whenever anybody suffers an actual injury. Those non-fans would argue that watching fake fighting is a waste of time when organizations such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator, not to mention all of the pro boxing that airs on television each and every week, host free and pay-per-view cards throughout the calendar year.
Such individuals don’t “get it” as it pertains to pro wrestling. Those inside of arenas or at home watching via television could not possibly care less that one performer is not actually punching another in the face. In fact, a large portion of the fan base actually prefers wrestling over legitimate combat sports because the performers who work for companies such as World Wrestling Entertainment, TNA Wrestling and other federations are not going out of the way to knock each other unconscious. Whatever your reasons for watching, wrestling offers a multi-hour escape from real life every week, which is all that you can ask for from any form of entertainment.
Rarely will you meet a fan of pro wrestling who was first a follower of the product as an adult. Regardless of when and where you grew up, odds are that you were introduced to the glories of pro wrestling at a young age. Whether you grew up watching Ric Flair battle with Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan taking on Andre the Giant or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin facing off with the Mr. McMahon character, wrestling is often something that enters your life when you are, as the saying goes, oh so young and impressionable.
Part of the fun of pro wrestling is suspending your disbelief and lying to yourself about the two men inside of the ring actually fighting each other. Wrestling can be made even more enjoyable to watch when you know that the wrestlers also happen to be badassess who could legitimately handle their own were the occasion to call for it. That is part of the reason why performers such as Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar have gotten over as they have. Nobody, not even the biggest wrestling cynic in the world, would dare call either man out.
13. Sex Sells
There is not a single worthwhile wrestling promotion on the planet that does not understand this part of the business. Do you believe it is a coincidence or just a wacky part of wrestlers that the performers wear so little clothing in the ring? And to think that the female wrestlers often expose even more of their bodies during matches! No organization has done better to promote this aspect of the business than the WWE, and it is why women such as Sable and Sunny became superstars outside of the company. Sex sells, and thus it will also play a role in wrestling.
Everybody needs a release from time to time, and wrestling offers that very thing to fans who attend shows and who watch at home. You can cheer on your favorites and boo those wrestlers that you don’t like, and people who attend big-time events such as a WWE pay-per-view get to do so without thousands of new friends that are made and lost in one night. Taking in a wrestling show live and in-person is not at all different than going to a live sporting event. Some will leave happy, some won’t, but hopefully everybody will have had a good time.
European soccer calendars include off weeks for clubs, and national teams only play “x” amount of times per year. The National Football League has an offseason that is painfully long for those who live and die pro football. You don’t have to worry about such breaks in wrestling. WWE and TNA Wrestling are just two promotions that offer weekly television episodes that contain new content. One can also, if he chooses to do so, fire up the WWE Network (more on that later) and watch shows and pay-per-view events from years ago. YouTube and Daily Motion also offer hours upon hours of content.
One of the best parts of being a supporter of anything is the interaction you can have with fellow fans both in-person and via the Internet, and wrestling is no different. Wrestling enthusiasts from different nations and different continents come together in forums to discuss what they like and dislike about the current product, and some of those websites even provide opportunities to meet and greet fellow fans at live events. You haven’t thoroughly enjoyed a WrestleMania until you have gathered together with dozens of fans and newfound friends and watched it together at a stadium.
9. All The Podcasts
I may not be as avid a wrestling fan as I was a decade or so ago, but I make sure to not miss the multiple top-notch wrestling podcasts that are uploaded on a daily basis. Figure Four Online/Wrestling Observer has shows that feature journalists Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer among other observers and current/former wrestlers. Live Audio Wrestling offers several shows every week, each of them absolutely free to the public. Those are just two websites that provide audio content, and you can find more merely by looking for “wrestling podcasts” in your favorite search engine.
If you want to listen to your favorite superstars, both Stone Cold and Chris Jericjo, among others, offer exceptional podcasts.
Wrestling fans watch the product for the same reasons that others keep up with shows such as Nashville, The Walking Dead, Mad Men and the 25 or so versions of CSI that are out there. When properly written, wrestling provides dramas and conflicts that aren’t all that different than what are presented in other programs. Unlike in those scripts, though, wrestling conflicts are concluded with matches. A popular term is that wrestling is “soap operas for guys.” While not entirely inaccurate, that saying presents the matter as if pro wrestling is any different from any other hour-long television drama or from an action movie. It isn’t.
7. WWE Network
I will, if asked, be the first person to admit that the WWE Network is far from perfect. The service continues to crash more often than one would like a year into it’s existence, and the network is still missing far too much content considering the tape library owned by the WWE. For, to steal a phrase from Triple H, only NINE-NINETY-NINE, fans can, with the push of a button, go back and relive some of their favorite moments across multiple wrestling federations. Gone are the days of needing to keep your VHS player operational.
The perception that Americans are so much more violent than any other culture is proven wrong by the worldwide popularity of the WWE and other wrestling, boxing and mixed-martial-arts promotions every week of the year. Here is the reality of the situation: There is something unexplainable about two people who seemingly don’t like each other beating each other up that appeals to a part of our very beings. It is why you stopped and watched a schoolyard fight as a child, and it is why wrestling fans tune in to watch programs such as Raw.
5. Real-life Feuds
The gossip of what goes on behind the scenes helps make the in-ring action seem that much more real to wrestling fans. We knew, as an example, going into the night of the 1997 Survivor Series that Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels legitimately could not stand each other at the time, and you could not help but wonder if either or both of them would try to slip in a real shot during the match. Watching The Rock interact with John Cena inside of a WWE ring was made that much more entertaining because of the fact that you knew that the two had, for a time, had a real-life beef.
4. The Characters
Hulk Hogan. Ric Flair. “Macho Man” Randy Savage. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The Ultimate Warrior. Bray Wyatt. The Undertaker. Papa Shango. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. The Yeti. Mr. Wrestling (pick your favorite). John Cena. Rey Mysterio (Jr.). Earthquake. Tugboat. The Great Khali. Andre the Giant. Buddy Rogers. Goldberg. Sting. Big Van Vader. It is, when you think about it, amazing that these and so many other characters were thought up and then put on national and worldwide television. Be thankful that they were.
Just how important are promos that are cut by wrestlers and managers during wrestling shows? The practice has been, shall I say, borrowed by the UFC and by other mixed-martial-arts promotions. Imagine being able to get into the face of a person or even a boss who you don’t like and tell that individual exactly what was on your mind without having to worry about their being any ramifications for your actions. That is just one reason why fans eat promos up. Those segments have also been proven to be useful to sell pay-per-view events in both pro wrestling and in MMA.
2. The Action
Backstage segments and entertaining characters are only worth so much if the action that occurs in front of audiences is no good. That has proven to be true in multiple federations located all around the world. Say whatever you will about the “play fighting” that goes on during matches. Whether it his high-flying aerial maneuvers or what appear to be punishing blows, fans take note of and root on the best workers in the business. It is a big reason for why Daniel Bryan was catapulted into the main event picture despite WWE’s desire to push a different wrestler.
1. The Spectacle
Nothing, not any sports or any movie or any play, is as much a show as is wrestling. There are the over-the-top characters who have their amps turned up to “11,” and also the wardrobes that they wear. The promos, which include phrases one would never use when in real-life conversation, are comical and also attention-grabbing. Moves that occur during matches make fans in attendance literally stand to their feet in appreciation and in awe. Put everything that makes wrestling what it is together, and you get a show that has to be witnessed to be believed. Keep loving pro wrestling, fans. It’s unlike anything else out there.
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