Professional wrestling has been a big influence in media and entertainment for many decades and is even more popular than some sports. Professional wrestling is immensely popular in other countries such as Japan and Mexico, and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has accumulated millions of fans around the world and could be crowned the king of sports entertainment today. But why is it that this company has so many followers and fans? Is wrestling fake, and if so, why do people still watch it?
First and most importantly, wrestling is fake. Not fake as in the sense that every steel chair shot is made so it doesn’t hurt, or that luchadore that just launched himself from a 30-foot ladder onto another wrestler made sure it didn’t hurt his target. Rather, every match is scripted, meaning that the outcome is predetermined, and some of the moves wrestlers use don’t hurt as much as they should.
It is ludicrous to say that professional wrestling is completely fake because there are reports of wrestlers getting injured with concussions, broken bones and torn ligaments while performing in the ring. In fact, some wrestlers have died while performing these life-threatening stunts. To sum it up, professional wrestling is sports entertainment, where the matches are deliberately fixed and wrestlers put their bodies and lives on the line when they are in the ring to perform stunts of great athletic ability and prowess.
Knowing that wrestling is fake, one might not be able to understand why WWE has so many viewers. The answer to that question is the same to this one: why do so many people watch Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead or any popular fictional television show? Because television is entertaining. Fictional shows are artificial pieces of art made to entertain viewers by causing them to feel a range of emotions, whether it be sorrow from the death of a character, suspense from a mystery or anger from a protagonist. Professional wrestling provides this type of episodic, dramatized, fictional content.
In a wrestling match, there are usually two polar opposite sides: the face and the heel. The face is the wrestler who is the hero, the underdog, the one who does it for the fans and keeps integrity and justice. The heel is the wrestler who is evil, conniving, the one who insults the fans and cheats to win matches. The writers of professional wrestling write scripts performed by the heel and face in order to bring personality to these characters through their words and actions. This is why you’ll often hear “boo”s when a heel is winning a match and cheers when a face is winning a match.
There are a lot of criticisms for professional wrestling based on events that have occurred within the past few decades. Before WWE’s drug and wellness policy really stepped it up in the late 20th century, there were many instances of steroid use and drug abuse, which caused controversy and sometimes the health failure of some wrestlers, such as Eddie Guerrero.
WWE wrestlers have also been caught up in legal trouble. One of the most infamous tragedies to ever cross WWE was when Chris Benoit murdered his family and himself, with his autopsy showing his brain tissues psychologically and physically destroyed from multiple concussions. Most recently was Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and racism scandal, which forced WWE to remove Hulk Hogan — one of their most well-known wrestlers — from the entire brand due to publicity issues.
WWE has grown past its mishaps and has become a grand organization today. Many of its wrestlers do charity work and visit terminally-ill children in hospitals. For example, John Cena has the record number of wishes fulfilled to children, according to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. WWE also annually partners with Susan G. Komen to raise awareness and support for breast cancer victims and survivors. And compared to its days of old, WWE has started to ban violent and dangerous moves, keeping in mind that a significant portion of its audience is children.
Many people have misconceptions of professional wrestling and WWE, and it is great to be informed and research about the myths and facts instead of listening to the loudest voices. Beyond the company’s mistakes, WWE is a charitable, sports entertainment company that brings great shows to audiences around the world. Give it a chance, if you haven’t already.