Is Wrestling Fake or Real? Some Answers!
In wrestling the words 'real' and 'fake' are hard to quantify. No professional wrestling is 'fake', if someone hits you they actually hit you, if someone picks you up and throws you to the mat you do hit the canvas, and often quite hard!
Giving and Taking Moves
In pro wrestling its all about control, trusting your opponent and training HARD. When you throw a punch there are various techniques to make it seem more effective but in all you 'pull' the punch ie: as soon as you feel contact you let your arm go a little limp, absorbing most of the impact. When you get slammed to the mat or 'get bumped' (knocked down) you perform a break fall, where you land spreading your weight across the parts of the body that can take impact and minimising the impact on the sensitive areas (lower spine on your back, face & balls on the front). Don't get me wrong though, it still hurts! And it takes a long time to learn how to get it right every time.
Yes, wrestling rings are sprung, but that spring/flexbeam only has between 1/2 & 1 inch flex in it and the ring usually has judo/martial arts padding (absorbs impact but is hard rather than soft) under the canvas, some just have a couple of layers of carpet underlay! The sound the ring makes on impact (wooden boards hitting metal beams) also adds to the impact effect.
And that's just the impact moves; most hold and submission moves are developed from various martial arts & classic wrestling moves, so they can all do legitimate damage if performed in a 'full on' way. However in professional wrestling the aim is to put on a good show rather than genuinely hurt your opponent, so at most your opponent should feel some minor discomfort.
If pro wrestlers did the things they do to actually hurt their opponents there would be a death a day (at least) and the schedule would be more like that of boxers or MMA fighters than, like the worlds top performers do, working 5 days out of 7.
This is where the only real 'acting' comes in. The art of 'selling' is where wrestlers act like a move hurt a lot more than it did. Holding their back, calling out in pain, 'nursing' an area that their opponent has been working on, ect are all parts of making it seem more genuine.
The aim of pro wrestling is to make the audience suspend their belief for a few minutes, and get them behind the good guy, hate the bad guy and get them emotionally involved in the match.
Matches are roughly scripted beforehand, with the booker telling the wrestlers what he wants from the match, whether that be a scripted list of spots detailing the whole match or simply, 'I want you to win, make each other look good'. The wrestlers then make up the rest between them and it is often made up in the ring with wrestlers 'calling' moves to each other as they go.
Training and conditioning is a huge part of a professional wrestlers life. Most wrestlers are in the gym at least every other day and take part in wrestling training sessions as much as possible to keep their edge and expand their range of abilities. The amount of time it takes to train to the level where you can turn pro varies from person to person, but the average time between beginning training and performing in your first show is roughly a year. Some people take to it quite quickly and could be out there in as little as 6 months getting squashed by more established names, others may train solidly for 18 month before being allowed in front of a paying audience.
The one thing to remember about training to become a pro wrestler is that training to become a wrestler HURTS. Once you have been doing it for 6 months week in week out it becomes part and parcel of the whole thing and drops to the back of your mind, but those first few weeks of training be prepared to feel pain. And ache for 3 days after every session. And to pick up the odd light 'injury' (nothing major, just your body complaining about you taking it to the limit). All in all, training to be a professional wrestler is one of those things that you are either suited to or you're not.
Hopefully this has answered most of the questions you have about Professional Wrestling. If you live in the UK and are interested in wrestling training you might want to have a look at my other series of hubs in which I provide information on British wrestling training schoolsregion by region: Northern England, The Midlands, Southern England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland(coming soon).