Usually, I leave the #Petty stuff for Dre. He does it better and he has far more axes to grind than I do. I’m a pretty easy-going guy and it takes a lot to annoy me. This, however, just boggles my mind and I have time today.
I’m seeing entirely too many cries of “the Bray Wyatt/Braun Strowman thing last night wasn’t a match” and “what happened to wrestling?”, etc, etc. It’s all over Twitter and it even reared its head last night in our “Extreme Rules” Dignified Discussion. It was truly high-larious (no, it’s not a word but I like it so I’m using it).
Wrestling is athletic displays of entertainment with pre-determined outcomes. Wrestling has never been anything other than entertainment. It has never been serious athletic competition. Sure, in the days before kayfabe was blown wide open, the “territory promotions” tried to make it look like it was but come on. Let’s look at this from a purely logical standpoint, shall we?
Do you really think people legitimately punch each other in the face during matches? Wanna know what would happen if you punched someone in the face just once? The person you punched would likely bleed and they might even get concussed. Ask Becky Lynch about that.
What would happen if you really gave someone a headbutt? Both people would be concussed. That, too, has happened during botched sequences.
What about an arm bar. Wanna know what would happen if someone fully twisted your arm – even once? You’d tear the arm out of its socket.
We all loved watching Randy “Macho Man” Savage do his flying elbow drop off the top rope. It was a great period on so many of his matches. If you really dove from the top rope onto your opponent with any part of your body full force, you’d likely crack his/her sternum and cause tremendous amounts of internal bleeding. There was a famous incident involving Manny Fernandez and Invader #3. He was avenging the death of Bruiser Brody back in 1989 in World Wrestling Council and he decided Invader should pay for the sins of the perpetrator (you can read more about it (here). Anyway, Manny legitimately dove onto him and let’s just say Invader #3 has never been the same since.
The risks these incredible athletes take is absolutely real and I would never wish to minimize that. I would also never minimize the athleticism involved. That’s a lot of what I love about professional wrestling. It is also a whole lot of carny sideshow. The storylines are completely fake, the competitors don’t really dislike each other (in most cases), and when they appear to be hurt…they aren’t (again, in most cases). We have seen Ring of Fire matches, Judy Bagwell on a Forklift Matches, Clockwork Orange House of Fun matches, Eye for an Eye matches, and yes, Wyatt Swamp Fights, etc. All were designed to entertain. I’m just glad the internet wasn’t around during many of these so I wouldn’t have to read about how “fans” and other wannabe-wrestlers who don’t get it miss “real wrestling” and statements about how “Vince is officially senile”. I mean…I kind of enjoy watching Twitter regularly implode over matches like these but even I’m getting a little weary of the whole thing.
Before wrestling is anything, it is entertainment – a soap opera in a wrestling ring. Wanna know why Vince McMahon can get away with calling what his company does “sports entertainment”? I have a secret for you:
It’s because that’s exactly what all of it is. There is no such thing as real professional wrestling.
It doesn’t matter whether you watch WWE, AEW, Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, or any other promotion,
That’s. What. It. Is.
I know that’s a hard pill to swallow for some but I’ve got plenty of water to help you out.
These incredibly talented athletes get in the ring and tell stories with their bodies. Who doesn’t love a really solid old-fashioned wrestling match? You get incredible stories both in and out of the ring and and you can really get lost in them. WWE and AEW have had a very rough ride like any other company in the COVID-19 era. The absence of a real audience has hurt both companies profoundly. Still, they’ve managed to entertain. Both companies have put on cinematic matches that can’t even really be called matches…but they were a whole lot of fun (okay, maybe not Bray/Cena but everything else has entertained me). That stadium match AEW put on was an absolute riot! I loved every second of it…but it wasn’t a match at all! It was pure carny silliness.
Do yourselves a huge favor. Get lost in the storytelling. Suspend disbelief. Any fan of what they perceive to be “real professional wrestling” is doing a metric ton of that whether they know it or not. When the storytelling really works, it’s dazzling. It’s just like any TV show you enjoy. In short, just stop thinking so much and enjoy. That’s what entertainment is for.