In defense of professional wrestling: Why most critics don’t understand the concept of professional wrestling

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Professional wrestling is one of the most dynamic forms of entertainment out there. It has been around for several generations and has gradually evolved into a form of live fight choreographed stunt show with emphasis on dramatic elements. The most popular professional company today is World Wrestling Entertainment(WWE), it has a worldwide fan base and even those who don’t watch professional wrestling know about it. But with it’s universal popularity, it also has criticism by people who don’t seem to understand the concept of the business.

In defense of professional wrestling: Why most critics don’t understand the concept of professional wrestling

key terms: There are many pro wrestling terms, here some of the most common ones.

  • Kayfabe: Portraying events or personas as “real” even though it’s all part of the show. It help with suspension of disbelief.
  • Angle: A skit or scripted storyline between two or more pro wrestlers.
  • Push: Promoting a specific wrestler to become more dominant than the average pro wrestler.
  • Shoots: A real fight that happens during a wrestling match. Whether it be because of a mishap or personal issues between the two wrestlers, it’s also when a wrestler goes off script.
  • Botch: Messing up a wrestling move which may or may not cause injury
  • Receipt: If a wrestler(usually a rookie) uses too much oomph, the other wrestler will return the favor.
  • Stiffing: Using extra force to make certain wrestling moves more believable. The wrestlers involved come to some agreement first. If it is done with out any mutual agreement, it can lead to a shoot fight and or receipt.


1.) Professional wrestling can trace it’s origins to a legit martial art:

While it’s true that many of the high flying stunts performed by the leaner pro wrestlers, or the usage of melee weapons have nothing to do with wrestling. A lot of the grappling techniques are modified catch wrestling and Judo techniques. Catch wrestling is a legitimate martial art that was popular in the early 20th century , it gradually evolved by incorporating techniques from various older grappling arts such as Judo, Jujutsu, Indian Pehlwani and folk wrestling from the British isles. Both Judo and Catch wrestling served as a basis for newer grappling styles such as Sambo, Shooto, collegiate wrestling, freestyle wrestling and also most notably professional wrestling.

Masakatsu Funaki a very popular Shooto practitioner, catch wrestler and professional wrestler in Japan
Masakatsu Funaki a very popular Shooto practitioner, catch wrestler and professional wrestler in Japan

2.) Professional wrestling greatly influenced MMA: Professional wrestling is primarily popular in USA, Japan and Mexico. And all three distinct pro wrestling styles influenced each other in some way. But it was Japanese professional wrestling which provided the corner stone for what would become modern day mma. A lot of UFC fans like to talk trash about a professional wrestling for being “fake” or “wannabe MMA” but ironically MMA wouldn’t be the sport it is today if it weren’t for pro wrestlers like Masakatsu Funaki, Antonio Inoki, Ken Shamrock, Karl Gotch etc.

The earliest MMA promotion founded in 1986
The earliest MMA promotion founded in 1986

3.) It’s very strenuous: The one word wrestlers don’t want to hear is that pro wrestling is “fake”. While it’s true pro wrestlers aren’t actually fighting each other for real doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park.

  • Constantly on the move: wrestlers are frequently traveling around the country and the world. They may have a few shows in Los Ángeles and the next week they are wrestling in London. And most only can only spend 2-3 days with their families.
  • Have to stay in great shape: As expected, pro wrestlers have to stay in great shape which is very hard to do while constantly on the move.
  • Matches aren’t rehearsed: Contrary to popular belief, professional wrestling matches aren’t rehearsed, only the storylines are rehearsed. While there is a predetermined winner, the wrestlers have autonomy in dictating what happens during the match by discussing a rough draft before a match. But matches are mostly improvised.
  • It hurts: Just because they aren’t actually fighting doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Getting body slammed hurts, suplexes hurt, receiving rich flair chops sting especially if they come from Walter. And so on.
  • Injuries happen: Countless wrestlers have been injured in the ring, some have had their careers shortened and on rare occasions some wrestlers have died in the ring.
In defense of professional wrestling: Why most critics don’t understand the concept of professional wrestling

4.) Backstage drama: “Ah they are just pretending, they don’t really hate each other.” While it’s definitely true that most pro wrestlers get along well and are even close friends, there are occasions where some wrestlers who’ve got heat with other wrestlers and just don’t get along. Whether it be for no in ring chemistry or non wrestling related issues. There are also occasions where wrestlers do something that doesn’t sit well with the boss causing the wrestler to get in trouble and so on. There are also occasions where some beef turns into shoot fights on live tv

Undertaker and Goldberg reportedly got in a argument backstage after their match
Undertaker and Goldberg reportedly got in a argument backstage after their match

5.) It takes good acting skills: As a result of the dramatic elements, wrestlers must be able to act out various types of skits and often times while adopting a persona. For this reason, many wrestlers also get movie roles.

Dwayne “the rock” Johnson is considered to be the most talented pro wrestler on the mike.
Dwayne “the rock” Johnson is considered to be the most talented pro wrestler on the mike.

6.) It takes talent: A lot of talent to receive a major push in the company. Most people assume “oh you just show up and follow the script”, well that’s not the case. As I mentioned above, there is very little scripting going on, most of it is improvisation. Acting, ring skills and how well you can portray your gimmick all determines how much of a push you can get. So when people say it’s “not competitive” they are wrong, you are competing to impress the head honchos of the company.

Asuka is perhaps the most versatile female pro wrestler in WWE.
Asuka is perhaps the most versatile female pro wrestler in WWE.

7.) Gimmicks: Most wrestlers adopt a persona that they portray on the show. Sometimes a trademarked gimmick will be assigned to you and other times the wrestler can create their own gimmick and depending on whether or not the boss thinks the gimmick will be well received by the fans or not can either accept your gimmick or deny it. Some wrestlers play a fictionalized version of themselves by using their real names.

Mark Callaway’s “Undertaker” gimmick is probably the most iconic wrestling gimmick in pro wrestling history
Mark Callaway’s “Undertaker” gimmick is probably the most iconic wrestling gimmick in pro wrestling history

8.) So many rules: While pro wrestlers have some level of autonomy on what they do on live tv, there are several rules that must be followed especially with the current PG/PC antics imposed on many pro wrestling companies. You can’t cuss, you can’t use certain phrases(title match vs title shot), you can’t “bleed”, you can’t use politics and most notorious of all, you can’t be “too violent”. Only the top stars of the company can get away with breaking these rules.

Any other wrestler would have been disciplined
Any other wrestler would have been disciplined

9.) Shoot fights: As expected it’s not surprising that real fights may occurs between two or more wrestlers. These fights occur for a variety of reasons whether it be for a botch, lack of cooperation, personal beef or just for fun. The two most popular shoot fights were between Antonio Inoki and Great Antonio. And also the receipt Braun Strowman received from Brock Lesnar.

Brock Lesnar punches Braun Strowman for real
Brock Lesnar punches Braun Strowman for real

10.)Charity and honor: Some professional wrestling companies actually support various philanthropic causes. Whether it be fighting cancer, fighting bullying etc. Pro wrestling companies also organize shows for audiences composed entirely of US military personnel. So before you say pro wrestlers don’t care about people, think again and look at all the causes they contributed to.

WWE tribute to the troops.
WWE tribute to the troops.

11.) A lot of pro wrestlers are talented outside of the ring: Pro wrestlers often find success outside of the “squared circle” as well due to their other talents. Some compete in other sports, others become big names in Hollywood and so on. To assume that their only talents are in the ring is a very naive way of analyzing pro wrestlers.

Dave Bautista as “Drax”
Dave Bautista as “Drax”

12.)They aren’t “gay”! A lot of these critics seem to think that all pro wrestlers must be gay just because they “roll around half naked” but in reality most of them are 100% straight. Yes there are a few who are openly gay but most are straight and date the opposite sex. Why not call UFC fighters “gay” when they roll around and get on top of each other as well? Why only pick on pro wrestling. By the way, no offense to gay people.

It’s just an angle.
It’s just an angle.

13.) They are Human beings as well: Most pro wrestlers are very decent individuals outside of the ring. A lot of them are married with children and are no different than the average person. They aren’t machines who get powered down after each show, they are human beings.

So yes, pro wrestling is a largely misunderstood profession. Only those who truly understand pro wrestling can appreciate the art of it.

sources:

https://www.grunge.com/151820/the-tragic-truth-about-the-life-of-a-professional-wrestler/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/theweek.com/articles-amp/447375/heres-what-prowrestling-script-looks-like

In defense of professional wrestling: Why most critics don’t understand the concept of professional wrestling
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  • Sensmind
    I was around the time the E was added to the WWF though there are many stories there including its trademark clash with the World Wildlife Fund (which it eventually lost) but the one I find most credible was that the WWE was afraid of the new sport doping testing coming in and if the WWF maintained it was a sport, its stars would be tested, anyone around in the 1980s and 1990s will tell you steroids where rife in the WWFe. In fairness they have cleaned up their act through the Wellness program , how much of that was moral and how much was fear of litigation.
    At first I wasn't sure but then I saw it as good thing, the wrestling industry could say "Sure its fake but it is hardcore fake" - Take a step back think of it as a degree of choregraphed stunt work and you see it in a excellent light - Think ECW, the Tables/Ladders/Chairs of the Hardy boys, Edge/Christian/Dudley Boys, the first few Hell in a Cell matches (They were as close to real as you were going to get)
    Then there was the era of "The Magician Secrets" where a magician revealed the secrets of top illustionists , a programme came along called "Secrets of Pro Wrestling" showing the amount of effort and skill that goes into pulling off a wrestling show things like in aerial stunts the person on the ground is the important one, they have to catch the flyer and sell the impact of being hit. It was a highly glossy, well produced programme , are you telling me that the WWE had nothing to do with it.
    IS IT FAKE, OF COURSE ITS FAKE but I totally respect them for it
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

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  • ItalianGuy2021
    Kayfabe been dead for years though. I have had a tryout in the past back in the 90s the Headbangers from WWF gave me my tryout before they were the Headbangers they were the Spiders wrestling in my area. I did not become a wrestler even though I did good but years later along with a friend we were going to promote wrestling shows. This guy from the NWA Dennis Coraluzzo got us in the back at so many shows. We rolled up to shows with Charlie Haas and his brother Russ Haas. I was in the lockerroom with Public Enemy from ECW and they took a liking to me. Charlie Haas was in WWE for a time and when I knew him and his brother they hugged me and gave me a confederate flag out of their trunk because they used to wear them as a bandana to the ring. Moolah and Mae Young was in the lockerroom at one show I was at. Also I met Jimmy Snuka and his son in the back. Samu from the Samoan Swat Team was back there too. I had a lot of fun even though the shows never happened due to a lot of BS that went down. I am not a fan of WWE really it is complete garbage booking these days I try to watch AEW but with no fans in the crowd it is hard these days. I just hope WWE gets better going forward then I might watch. Great talent but horrible booking.
  • loveslongnails
    You call it entertainment. I call it a farcical waste of time. I don't like it because it appeals to the lowest common denominator. The average IQ at one of these wrestling events is probably about 90... the same as trump supporters.
    • @loveslongnails

      Pro wrestling is still a lot more entertaining than the “SocJus” movies and by shows that come from the mainstream entertainment industry. All political pandering.

    • Perhaps to you, but my point is, it's a farce. It's nothing more than choreography with well built guys, yet MOST of its fans believe it's real !!

    • Show All
  • DeeDeeDeVour
    Pro wrestling is a very tough industry. Those men & women are out there to entertain us to the max but doing so requires a lot of skills & strength.

    Meanwhile, Dave Batista is a genuinely nice man. I'm so glad he landed the role of 'Drax' in the Marvel movies.
  • Professional Wrestling is theater. It is athletic but can be comedic at the same time. Yes the chops and stuff are legitimately painful. I was at a indie show one time and the wrestlers were near me in the next chair and the wind off those chops is hard enough you can feel it
  • GoodGuyBreakingBad
    Awww thanks for sharing your great MyTake I been a fan of Wrestling
    since age 10 years old when it was back then WWF, I knew Captain
    Lou Albano, The Wild Samoan's ( Afa & Sika) are brothers and Greg
    Valentine, yes the list goes on...
  • hellacray
    Ok there's quite a few things I don't really agree with here. But I don't really feel like addressing them cause I don't want to make this long.

    Anyways a lot of people already know that pro wrestling is entertainment and not an actual sport. People that still call it fake are just really stupid.

    Like you might as well call every movie ever made fake. Cause I can tell you right now in real life there's no way 1 guy can take out like 20 guys unlike in the movies.
  • Twalli
    As a former scholastic wrestler and current martial artist the reason I don't like pro wrestling is because the end ig s predetermined. Imagine how boring sports would be if the teams agreed on the winner beforehand. Some of the best games are upsets. Since the end is predetermined in pro wrestling there can't be an upset.
  • ColoradoKid
    I used to have favorite wrestlers. Not all of them were on top. I haven't watched it since HBK had been gone. The way he could kick someone in the chin at a close looking distance was great. The wrestlers have to be in great shape to do the stuff they do with out killing each other and talent. If you don't think coming close to someone's face with your foot is easy then try kicking at a wall barefoot and get as close as they do without breaking your toes. I can't do it. Of course the act of trying that just don't set well with me. I hurt my self all the time... why try?
  • CheezyPizza
    I have watched wrestling every since i was 5yo, i grew up watching Mid-Atlantic and N. W. A. wrestling, Ric Flair has always been my fave wrestler, but as time goes by and things change, i just think wrestling is a joke now, i almost quit watching WWE cause they shove the same shit down ppl's throats every week, im just not interested anymore, but A. E. W on the other hand i really do like because i think Cody is trying to reflect AEW like it was in the NWA, they use the term professional wrestling not superstar, and to me AEW is 10 times better than McMahon's brand, C. M Punk was right when he said the only way company will be better if Vince was dead but it'll be taken over by his dufus son n law and idiot daughter, they will just run it into the ground, just rember wrestling fans, "Diamonds are forever and so is Ric Flair and the 4 Horsemen" 😄
  • vannefftor
    Who cares, real wrestlers are already in the UFC where REAL fighters belong.
  • Johnnyjay
    "has gradually evolved into a form of live fight choreographed stunt show with emphasis on dramatic elements."

    yea and this is what killed the business so that
    -a record low of fans watch it
    -they have to tarp off great portions of the arena.
    -People generally see the wwe as a show written by a 70 year old for 10 year olds.

    Wrestling is a great form of entertainment. its unfortunate Vince McMahon and all of his weird behavior destroyed it. And before you say "the wwe does record numbers of revenue they are great". The wwe isn't wrestling its "sports entertainment" and all of their revenue comes from tv revenue, merchandise, selling out for billions to Saudi Arabia. The product is garbage and has been so for at least 12 years. That my take lol
  • AllAmericanGirl99
    Good mytake. I always thought it was very fake and frankly homoerotic
    • That last part is spot-on! MMA isn't as overtly serialized with with oil, undies, and extreme body types.

    • @meesegoMoo yeah giant muscular men in teeny tiny underwear, sometimes leather or brightly colored

    • I walked in on a person watching it and all I saw were those almost naked dudes oiled up on top of each other groaning. I legit thought it was a porn parody of some sort.

  • Pro wrestling is really cool and these guys are insane athletes but its more like a show than real Greco-Roman wrestling
  • Ripper_E
    It's essentially reality TV, with sports, hence sports entertainment. It's a show.
    Not a normal sport.
  • willisg
    I have a feeling the way it's going in America if people don't start to lighten up you are going to see a lot more shit on the streets than in any ring.
  • KennethNoisewater
    Why can't some people enjoy any fiction sitcom on TV? Why can't some people enjoy scifi movies? It still takes a little imagination to get into all of those this. Whether it's wrestling, the Simpsons or planet of the apes. You have to be able to let yourself wander a little bit. If your head can't to that than none of it's any good. I have absolutely nothing against wrestling. Actually went and watched a live WWE thing 2 years ago. (Granted it was free tickets) but I am just not a fan of it anymore. I grew out of it when I was probably 14 or maybe even 15. I just doesn't do anything for me. It's probably just because I have to be extremely cliche and say something like " I only watch UFC" I really hate that that statement is true. But really I think those dude are hell of athletes but since they went from wrestling to 22% wrestling 78% male soap opera I just had to bail. It's pretty terrible now.
  • zagor
    Yeah but it's not wrestling. It's scripted entertainment. You won't find a sportsbook that will take bets on it.
  • 888theGreat
    It is funny. Hogan vs Andre the Giant , "Hole Gun" and The Rock vs Stone Cold
  • AmberGreen
    Wrestling is just like a movie 😂 star Good Actors
    • I would like to know why older men love Young girls

  • jonesjessica812
    Wrestling fake
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