“Wrestling is fake.”
“Wrestling is not a sport.”
“Wrestling is just acting.”
These three statements are the most common things I hear when I tell people I like wrestling. I give this information freely; I have friends who will only divulge this information when they find a fellow wrestling fan. Wrestling is a dirty word, a secret, a guilty pleasure which is discussed through looks as you see another person with a wrestling t-shirt. Nods of the heads are exchanged and you move on with your lives, knowing you’re part of this secret club of grown adults who enjoy wrestling.
So is wresting fake? Yes and no. The storylines are fake and the matches are planned ahead of time. Wrestling companies have writers much like a TV show, people are heroes and villains (or in wrestling terms, faces and heels), and wrestlers have feuds to enhance excitement for matches. The moves within the matches are not fake; yes, chokeholds are not properly applied so the wrestlers don’t pass out, and punching is not real so they don’t get black eyes and broken jaws every night. The athleticism is real, the training is real, and it’s more akin to choreography than MMA, but a wrestler has to be in tremendous shape to wrestle.
So why defend wrestling so much; why not just laugh it off when wrestling gets compared to soap operas? Although they are similar in many ways, wrestling shouldn’t be judged just because the stories aren’t real. WWE wrestlers perform two televised shows per week, three hours long each; this doesn’t include house shows (shows that are not televised), which are nearly every night. Wrestlers go out and perform almost every single night of the year, most of them don’t see their families and they don’t have time off.
Due to the storyline nature of the show, wrestlers preform even when they are injured, which happens a lot due to the strenuous schedules they have. If a wrestler gets injured and cannot preform for three months, all their storylines disappear immediately. If a jobber (someone who loses to other wrestlers to make them look good) gets a ‘push’, which means the company thinks they have potential to have a good storyline, but is injured and cannot compete, that’s it. Their chance at the big time may be gone forever and they may be fired from the only large wrestling company that exists anymore.
WWE is the largest wrestling company in the world; there was a time when other wrestling companies such as ECW, WCW and TNA could be considered competitors. WWE has either bought these companies, or are doing so much better in the ratings that only a small collection of people watches them. WWE is considered mainstream wrestling, the top of the ladder, what you aim for; independent wrestling is much different. WWE wrestlers have mostly come from independent wrestling companies or have been sourced from other areas (football, body building etc…).
For a wrestler to start in the business they can’t just be talented in the ring – they have to be able to talk well too. This includes cutting promos without a script, reacting to a roaring arena of 10,000’s of people and not stumbling over their words. They also have to have a good look. 10 years ago wrestlers had to be huge, 300 pound, 6 feet, and look terrifying. Nowadays it’s not as extreme, but you still have to look interesting, have a good build, and be right for the company at the moment. Working independent circuits for years before a mainstream company picks you up, and even then you may not do well in the WWE and get fired, and with WWE being the only wrestling company that exists, you may have dedicated your life to a sport that has decided that you just aren’t good enough.
So is wrestling fake? I can’t name any other sports that push their athletes as hard, that offer so little time off and damage them so often. The worst thing is that these people aren’t even respected, if you are not a fan and you don’t understand what goes into it, it seems like a joke rather then a sport. So next time someone tells you they like wrestling, don’t ask them whether its fake, don’t ask them what the point is, because wrestlers invest their entire lives in this career and their fans know that, which makes them the most passionate fans in the world.
They also might punch you in the face and ask if it felt ‘fake.’
By Emily Waddell