COMMENTARY | For well over 100 years, millions of fans around the world have enjoyed professional wrestling. Combining athleticism and scripted drama, pro wrestling offers its fans a truly unique form of entertainment. In 2013, the industry is so popular that the top promotion, the WWE, routinely attracts millions of viewers each week to its television programming and even runs successful pay-per-views each month.
However, because the outcomes of its matches are predetermined, many sports fans will not consider watching pro wrestling. Many even use the derogatory term "fake" to belittle wrestling. Unfortunately, the word fake is very limiting and ignores just how real the action is. In fact, there are many reasons why mainstream sports fans would enjoy wrestling if they'd just check it out.
5. Trash talking
How exciting is it to see interviews or postgame press conferences where coaches and athletes go off and start yelling and screaming? Interviews from the likes of Bobby Knight, Jim Mora, and Mike Tyson are the stuff of legend. And who can forget Joe Namath guaranteeing victory in Super Bowl III? The reason we love sports figures who speak their minds is because it's so rare in the age of political correctness to find someone willing to do so.
Pro wrestlers are underappreciated for the outstanding work they do behind the microphone. Sure, their words are usually scripted. But in any competition, you know the very best athletes are driven by a primal desire to destroy their opponents. The ability to elicit the desired reaction from the crowd is a gift that every successful wrestler possesses. And sports fans would love this aspect of pro wrestling.
4. Wrestlers perform through injuries
There are many shining examples of athletes who fought through pain, illness, and severe injury to help their teams and fans. Willis Reed, Jack Youngblood, Michael Jordan, and Robert Griffin III are four athletes who played in big games while sick or injured. However, more times than not, athletes fall to the floor, field, or ice when injured and can't finish the play. And no one should criticize them for this.
But performing through injuries is the norm in pro wrestling as opposed to being the exception in sports. WWE superstar Triple H once tore his ACL while performing, but finished the match. Steve Austin suffered a severe neck injury during a match, was paralyzed for 30 seconds, and finished the match. The intestinal fortitude, respect for the profession, and the desire to perform for the fans should earn wrestlers the respect of all fans.
3. Most of what you see is real, not "fake"
If you'd believe the critics, you'd think that a 10-15 minute match is about as rough as a mother-daughter tea party. Otherwise, how can wrestlers have more matches in a week than pro boxers have in a year? There are certain parts of a match that are not as real as they look, such as punches thrown with closed fists. And what announcers call a "headlock" is really a "rest move" in the middle of a long match.
But as Jesse Ventura famously asked, "How can you fake a bodyslam?" Well, you can't. Bodyslams, metal chair shots to the head, and getting thrown through a table are as real as they look. Backdrops, piledrivers, and falls off the top of a steel cage onto a table are only a few of the dozens of moves that wrestlers willingly perform to entertain the fans. And the fact that they do it five or more days a week is beyond extraordinary.
2. Many wrestlers began as mainstream athletes
Unfortunately, professional wrestlers are often referred to as actors rather than athletes. However, many top wrestlers started out as competitive athletes before moving to wrestling. So to say that wrestlers are not athletes is simply not correct. In fact, part of "getting over" with the crowd is having an impressive physique, so wrestlers have to spend more time in the gym than most competitive athletes do.
25 or more years ago, some wrestlers like Dusty Rhodes and Abdullah the Butcher looked a lot more like offensive linemen than today's grapplers do. But in the 21st century, fans have come to expect a more fast-paced, high-flying product than fans did years ago. It is not a stretch to say that today's wrestlers are the best athletes in the history of the industry.
1. Other forms of popular entertainment are also scripted
On April 7, 2013, 750,000 people in North America paid to see The Rock and other WWE wrestlers at the Wrestlemania 29 pay-per-view. Later that month, many more people paid to see The Rock in "Pain and Gain." In fact, the movie already grossed over $34 million in domestic sales in under two weeks. Here's a secret for fans of action movies who don't watch wrestling because it's fake. Wrestlemania was a lot more real than "Pain and Gain."
Like the aforementioned wrestlers who fought through injuries, The Rock did the same thing at Wrestlemania 29. In fact, his internal injuries were so severe that he needed surgery. Action movies, comedies, dramas, and TV sitcoms are also scripted and predetermined, but for some reason, nobody complains about them being fake.
Pro wrestling already has tens of millions of loyal fans around the world. But it deserves the respect of many more.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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