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Why I watch Professional Wrestling.
Let me just say...
Professional wrestling is fake.
I said it.
Professional wrestling is fake.
...Or is it?
Now before you freak out, let me elaborate.
The terrible, cheesy plots are all created by a team of soap opera writers, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, and Freddie Prinze Jr. (That's true, incidentally).
The men who put on tights, shorts, and even jean shorts are portraying over the top, and occasionally cartoony characters.
And the outcome of every single match is determined long before the opening bell.
I know all this.
But I still wouldn't call it fake.
Despite the corniness, the action that takes place in the ring is still very, very real.
Professional wrestlers are athletes who take a lot of punishment and work very hard to maintain the necessary physique.
See, I'm what the wrestling world calls a "smark".
What's a "smark?"
Well, that depends who you ask.
The casual fan will tell you that a smark is someone who acknowledges that the product is staged, and claims to enjoy it more because of it.
Hardcore fans will probably tell you that a smark is basically the wrestling equivalent of a hipster.
I proudly identify as both.
So before I get on to defending why I like the product, I guess it makes sense to go back and find out why most people don't!
Well... It's fake.
Again, I wouldn't call it fake.
We have a word describing the... legitimacy... of wrestling, and that word is kayfabe.
Kayfabe is defined as meaning "the portrayal of staged events within the industry as "real" or "true," specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature."
See? It's fake... but not fake.
And this argument never really made sense to me.
Am I only supposed to watch shows that are completely real?
Am I not supposed to watch Scream movies because Ghostface isn't really killing people?
Am I not supposed to watch How I Met Your Mother because Barney Stintson is just a character?
This summer, Jurassic World was a historically successful movie.
Yet, when I walked in the theatre, I knew the following.
The movie was about a dinosaur zoo.
At some point, things go wrong and the dinos would escape.
The dinos would eat a lot of people.
And before the credits went up at the end of the movie, the dinosaurs would either be back in captivity or away from people, and the core group of main characters would be safe.
That didn't stop me from loving it.
And that certainly didn't stop millions of people from seeing it multiple times.
"Well... That's Jurassic Park, that's really cool, wrestling isn't like Jurassic Park".
They don't have a multi-million dollar budget to blow on stunt doubles or special effects.
A wrestler has to be able to go out, in character, in front of thousands of people, and improvise lines, delivering them perfectly. Then they have to perform a dangerous and exhausting series of stunts, sometimes choreographed, sometimes improvised, for up to sixty minutes.
If they miss a spot, or miscommunicate, it could mean someone's life.
Concussions, broken bones, staph infections, tendon and quadricep tears, as well as many other serious injuries not only occur, but occur quite frequently during matches.
Imagine improvising a monologue in front of 15,000 rambunctious fans.
Then imagine getting into a fight where you had to look but also lose.
Then imagine doing that three or four times a week, while driving around the country, for a whole year.
I'd love to see Chris Pratt try.
It's hella corny, brother!
I'll admit, at times, the WWE is only a few pixels away from being a full blown cartoon.
Especially when John Cena has a microphone.
But that's because the WWE has become family friendly.
It's not your dad's "Hulkamania", which merely mirrored the cheesiness of the time.
It's not your big brother's "Suck It" era, which... I mean... Creed was popular in the 90's so...
The WWE has a very broad viewership. In fact, some would argue the reason the ratings are down is that they're trying to engage too many age groups.
I get it, I really do.
I said professional wrestling.
While there is no question that the WWE is the biggest wrestling company, it's far from the only one.
New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground, and surprisingly, WWE's developmental territory, NXT are all fantastic wrestling shows that don't pander to the needs of the immature and focus on in-ring ability.
But, let's be real.
If I say pro football, you think NFL.
I would ask one favor of you.
Just YouTube the words, "CM Punk Pipe Bomb"
Watch literally anything CM Punk did in 2011.
Watch anything CM Punk has ever done for the WWE, and maybe you'll develop an appreciation for what happens when they blur the lines between kayfabe and reality.
Why does it matter?
To each their own...