"Wrestling is awful. Wrestling is the worst thing you could possibly spend your time watching. Wrestling is depraved, sleazy, and highly exploitative. It's just a bunch of big fat rednecks pounding on each other. Not only that, but wrestling is fake! How can you watch that crap?"
As a wrestling fan, I've heard all the arguments why I should not support wrestling. When I have people over, they mock the Rey Misterio Jr. memorabilia I have on the wall above my closet. The people who can't understand why I love wrestling will never be able to comprehend the joy I get from watching a well-worked match. On the other hand, I can clearly see all the reasons they or anyone might have for hating wrestling. Here, in the inaugural edition of "Wrestling Logic", I will run down what I believe to be the worst things about pro-wrestling, and then attempt to explain why I enjoy wrestling in spite of those things.
1. Pro-wrestling is sleazy. I may be in the minority of wrestling fans, but I do not want to see surgically enhanced sex objects wrestling in the mud. I do not want to see Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWF, force one of his employees to strip to her underwear on live television, and then crawl around the ring barking like a dog. I do not want to see Olympic athletes find out that the hooker that just performed oral sex on them is a transvestite. I do not want to see Tommy Dreamer's girlfriend turn out to be a lesbian, with the punchline being that Tommy Dreamer is "hardcore" and therefore will commence having sex with both of them. I don't even want to get into "Viagra on a pole" matches. I guess wrestling companies think that sleaze will draw ratings, but all it does is make it impossible for me to watch the product on TV with my niece and nephew.
2. Pro-wrestling is an industry filled with drug abuse. The abuse of steroids is so widespread and so obvious that most observers don't really pay much attention to it, despite the fact that steroid abuse has destroyed the lives of many of the previous generations of wrestling. Dynamite Kid is in a wheelchair. Superstar Billy Graham has been very outspoken on the effects that steroid abuse has had on his health. Not only are many of the physiques in wrestling chemically altered, many wrestlers have found themselves hooked on pills. Many wrestlers have found themselves dropping dead because of it. As innocuous and cute as all this drug use seems, it is not. I hate it and wish it were not so.
3. Pro-wrestling is an industry in which people destroy their bodies and their health for the adulation of an audience that won't remember or care about them in three months. From www.wrestlingobserver.com: "Combat Zone Wrestling last night in Smyrna, DE featured what people are calling the sickest match they've ever seen with Jun Kasai Nick Mondo beating Justice Pain Johnny Kashmere in a fans bring the weapons match. Lawsuit waiting to happen as they were battling with light tubings and breaking them with bits of them going into the crowd. Kasai took 40 shots to the head and back and his arm was ripped open and you could see his tricep muscle and elbow sticking through. Back was shredded by the glass, as was Mondo's. " I don't even think you can refer to this crap as "wrestling". The crimson mask is one thing, taking bumps into light tubing is quite another. I personally have no interest in watching anything similar to that, and I think that instances such as the aforementioned CZW match paint pro-wrestling in a very negative light.
4. Pro-wrestling is an industry which is both extremely hard on it's worker's physical well-being but also extremely lacking in health-coverage and pension plans for those same. The treatment this industry shows it's former stars, many of whom are physically crippled and far from financially secure, is appalling. Johnny Valentine's recent death has sparked some discussion on this matter among the premiere wrestling journalists. Ric Flair, in an interview with Slam! Wrestling, and quoted in the May 7, 2001 edition of Wrestling Observer, stated "Look at how many guys have died in our business the past five years. Nobody mentions their names anymore. This is the most insensitive business in the world and it will continue to be until somebody does something about it. We don't have the type of backing, be it union-wise or health-insurance wise, and the reason is because under our current system, everyone has to look out for themselves." Great news for promoters trying to save a buck, but really, really bad news for guys like Matt Hyson (Spike Dudley) who are taking the big bumps for a low-end contract and whose careers will probably last about as long as Mick Foley's did. Mick was able to retire young because of his success-- somehow I don't ever see a guy like Spike reaching that level of financial security in this business. Today's top stars are tomorrow's forgotten cripples.
5. Pro-wrestling is an industry which has no respect for it's fans. Why do you think carny words like rube and mark are so prevalent in wrestling lingo? Lance Storm, in recent columns on his Stormwrestling.com website, has advanced the idea that wrestling fans are not even bright enough to be able to tell the difference between a great worker and a very poor one. Many episodes or Raw and Nitro have been built around swerving the fans, and pulling main event "bait and switches", both things that show that big-time wrestling promotions don't always respect their fanbase.
Wow. Wrestling sure is a horrible business.. except.. man, do I love wrestling.
Pro-wrestling is my chosen favorite form of entertainment for a few reasons. The first is because of the actual sport of it, and the storytelling that can be done during a match. As flashy as the fight scenes in the film The Matrix are, they have nowhere near the impact that Chris Benoit vs. Bret Hart, in their Owen Hart memorial match, have. There's not the history of Rey Jr. vs. Psicosis. I enjoy watching two athletes at the top of their chosen profession telling a compelling story in the ring so much that it supercedes my disgust at other, seedier aspects of the business.
While the actual performance between the ropes is my main reason for loving pro-wrestling, I also like the variety show aspect of pro-wrestling on television. At it's best, an episode of the WWF's Raw has a compelling, dramatic main storyline, humorous skits and promos, and lots of in-ring action. When the writing of the show is really good, they don't rely on sleaze as much and it makes for an overall more enjoyable product, in my opinion.
And the most minor of the reasons I love wrestling is the internet wrestling community. (Sniff) I love you guys. Seriously, though, following the business through the major news sites, reading commentary on the various opinion-oriented sites, and talking pro-wrestling on message boards (such as CRZ's Ezboard) is part of the fun. This was my first attempt at a column, so I would greatly appreciate feedback. I plan on writing more, so constructive criticism of this one would be awesome. You can email me at : Screaminghell@earthlink.net , or you can discuss this column (and anything else) on the EZBoard. Thanks!