I’ve been a pro-wrestling fan for most of my life. Which means people think I’m pretty much substandard when it comes to human beings. The art community has deemed pro-wrestling as cheap and void of any art for reasons unknown to this writer, but they are wrong. Damn wrong. The vilified fans hide their fandom in the shadows. Afraid to tell people they just watched Monday Night Raw, and that the main event wasn’t that bad. Terrified of the few seconds of internal processing their peers take after learning that you are indeed a fan of pro-wrestling. No, like a real fan. Like I know who Bray Wyatt is, and feel like everyone should too.
Fans are afraid of the barrage of questions that come next. All with built in daggers of judgement piercing everything that you have worked for as an adult. Your peers judging you, for not being as peer-y as them. They gave up watching wrestling at 9, and you should have too!
It is just something you learn to live with as a pro-wrestling fan. Over the years I have developed 10 built in rebuttals for the same cliche questions you get as a fan.
This is the Pro-Wrestling Fan’s handbook for Haters.
1. You know it is fake right?
Define fake. Fake, like how? American Politics? Reality TV shows? Is something fake just because the outcome is predetermined? So is every movie, TV show, comic book, book, and play is fake by those standards. Do you go to broadway and ask why people like this fake stuff? Oh wait, that doesn’t count? Why? Do you think people in broadway are really the characters they play? With that logic you would have to think The Undertaker is really a walking deadman.
Or do you just hold pro-wrestling to an impossible standard that none of your pretentious darlings could hold up to? You’ll never look at True Detective as fake, even though all Woody Harrelson is doing, is faking in front of a camera. What the Undertaker does is faking being a zombie. Woody is really pretending to be a detective. The logic is fake and broken.
The truth is, you are faking how much you care about something being fake.
2. How can you watch a bunch of guys in tights?
Interesting enough. Every 18-35 male watches an over abundance of men in tights. Let’s start with the largest sport in the United States. Football. A lot of tights in that. Guys bending over in tights. Guys running in tights. Guys rolling around with each other in tights. Then, without fail, every Sunday, here we all are, grown men discussing the intricacies of other grown men playing a game of tights.
If you are not into sports, then let’s look at other guys in tights that the male demographic enjoys. Let’s start with the two big ones. We have watched different incarnations of Superman and Batman slip into their elastic threads and save the world numerous times. Cartoon versions, comic book versions, live action version, all still in TIGHTS. Here are other things people generally like that deal with men in tights: Spider-Man, UFC, baseball, X-Men, 80s rock bands, pop stars, etc.
I have no idea how I can watch a bunch of guys in tights, but then again, neither does the entire male demographic.
3. Their punches look so bad. The fights seem so unrealistic.
Did you enjoy The Dark Knight Rises? Cause I sure did. Did you see that fight scene between Batman and Bane? Guess what? No one fights like that. Ever. In fact, most people are brainwashed into thinking that fights actually look like what they do in movies. Years upon years of Bruce Lee, Bruce Willis, and Vin Diesel throwing highly telegraphed looping punches, and bad guys who can’t seem to move out of the way of them.
Compare Batman’s looping punches:
To these…real punches. From guys really fighting:
Movies have provided decades upon decades of false advertising for what a real fight looks like. I know Chuck Norris is a meme zenith now, but I assure you, NONE of his fight scenes are realistic. In fact I’ll go even further and say, there has NEVER been a realistic fight scene in a movie. Period. Or in comics. So go fuck yourself with your so unrealistic. If I can watch and enjoy unrealistic fight scenes in one medium, then I can also enjoy it in another.
My unrealistic pro-wrestling is still more realistic than your theatre fighting.
Truth: People like unrealistic fights and real fights.
Feel the full insanity of the real fight GIF I posted. Real fights are ugly, sloppy, and grueling. That is the definition of Takayama vs. Don Frye. (Imagine if Batman and Bane actually fought like this.)
now here is Batman vs. Bane. Lazy looping overhand rights. Half ass side kicks. There is no technique. No real struggle.
4. How old are you? You still watch this?
I was literally asked this question at a comic book convention. I’m not fucking joking. A early-thirties male with glasses and a receding hairline, clenching his Spider-Man graphic novel, and throwback Thor Issue #whateverthefucknumber it was. Literally had the balls to ask me, while in the middle of a fucking COMIC BOOK CONVENTION, do I still watch pro-wrestling?
Yes, I do still watch pro-wrestling, maybe I should be cliche and ask the adult comic book fan if he ever had a girlfriend? Or maybe I should ask him why he is still watches cartoons? Does he still yearn for human touch? Or is Peter Parker enough? Maybe I should go down the list of cliches about comic book fans — and see how many of them are true.
5. The acting is so bad.
Ugh. I know. Sometimes it is really bad, but when it is good — it is good. I’m not going to go too much into my theory on Good Acting vs. Bad Acting, but you can jump to my friend Ulises’ article that really drives home the point here. To put it simply, if you get a reaction out of your audience. That’s good acting. Realism doesn’t always equal good acting. Getting an emotional reaction out of your audience = Good Acting.
There is two ways of getting an emotional response. Either make them love you (Being a good guy or a face). Or make them hate you (Being a bad guy or being a heel). Because if you do a good job at either, the crowd will respect you for it. The Rock, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, they all read from the same phone book as Al Pacino, Robert Dinero, and Christopher Walken.
They share the same ability: they have mastered being the most captivating versions of themselves.
Since January 11th, 1993 Monday Night Raw has been on television and not once has there been rumor of a wrestler being nominated for an Emmy. In the opinion of Hollywood, WWE never produced a storyline or character that has deserved their recognition.
In my opinion, no one deserved that recognition more than The Rock. When he was on absolute fire in WWE, there wasn’t even a glance his way. Seriously, watch that link, you are seeing a god damn entertainer do what he does best. Sure, now the Rock has the label “franchise saver” but when he was truly becoming the character we know and love, it was only the pro-wrestling fans who took heed.
That is just promos. Obviously most of the theatrical acting takes place in the ring. That’s when the wrestlers use their bodies and facial expressions to entice the crowd. They use big exaggerated movements so people seated in the furthest seats can make out what is going on. This is where the real craft happens. When two wrestlers are able to make the crowd crazy without sacrificing anything athletically.
There is no better example of that, then The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan from Wrestlemania 18. Both men, without doing much, were able to manipulate the crowd in ways that has never been seen before. Having the audience chanting each man’s name. Fans of Hogan trying to drown out the fans of The Rock, and vice-versa. Every muscle twitch. Every smirk. Every grunt. Mattered. The results were magnificent.
There is a lot of bad acting in pro-wrestling. I’m not going to lie, but don’t discredit the wrestlers who are amazing at their craft and you shouldn’t either.
6. These guys aren’t competing, how can you get so excited when someone wins?
Rocky wasn’t competing with Ivan Drago either, and I assure you that fight was just as choreographed as Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Sly even had the benefit of having the control of his crowd’s reaction. Which wrestlers do not have.
Just like in every other medium, there is a narrative being told in a pro-wrestling match. There are highs and lows, protagonists, antagonists, climaxes, and twists. The same way I can sit there and enjoy watching Forrest Gump, I enjoy watching Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 13. For a match to be great, first and foremost you need good wrestlers. Even if they aren’t athletically gifted (like Hulk Hogan was NOT) they can still entertain the crowd with their charisma (like Hulk Hogan DID).
Just because an ending is predetermined (aren’t the endings to books, movies, plays, and comics predetermined?) Doesn’t make it any less impactful to the viewer. Pro-wrestling matches are decided in the back, but it isn’t about who wins and loses. It is about the ride they give you going there. Rocky isn’t really fighting Ivan Drago, but when they are fighting, every punch, grunt, and movement matters, because they have the audience engaged.
Deep down inside, don’t you know that the good guys always win? Batman, Superman, Transformers, Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel. They always come out on top. Yet you pay for their brand of entertainment and if the movie is well crafted — you will emotionally react to their moments of loss. There may even be a second where you think Thor just may lose! Then the world will crumble under Loki’s iron fist. When you tell yourself Loki may win, you are suspending belief. Something most people refuse to do when watching pro-wrestling, but they will do for every other medium.
If I said it once, I’ll say it again. There is nothing like a great pro-wrestling match. Key word: Great. There are only probably 5 to 10 of them a year. (10 if it is a good year.) When I say great, I mean it has to be shooting on all fucking cylinders. The last GREAT match I saw? The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield. Before that? John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan.
I’m going to link some of my favorite matches I can find on youtube.
Also if I haven’t sold you yet, here it is again.
Many people consider this one of the best matches of the 90s. This is the perfect mix of storytelling and athleticism. Seriously, watch this. This is as close to perfect of a match as it gets.
You want a brain dead action B-movie full of fucked up spots and brutal strikes? This is it.
7. You know that guy really doesn’t hate that guy, right?
I don’t think Michael Cranston really made meth either, but that didn’t ruin Breaking Bad for me. I also know that Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart weren’t fond of each other. Most people don’t know there are backstage politics in pro-wrestling. Just like in any other industry, and with the advent of the internet, the politics are made available to fans with google.
Just like a coach who doesn’t get along with his star quarterback or a director who is having a falling out with his main actor, there are politics that shape the outcome of the final product. Learning about these politics makes watching it all the more interesting.
Oh, and even if they are friends in the back, how THE FUCK DOES THAT CHANGE THE PRODUCT? Is Walter White and Gus’s feud any less climactic because they are friends in real life? I’m going to sneak into the emmy awards and scream, “HEY! Peter Dinklage isn’t related to Jack Gleeson!”
That’ what you sound like to me when you try inserting your shitty quips. Fuck you.
8. That’s fake blood.
Very rarely do they use fake blood. Most of the time, the blood is real. Wrestlers blade themselves with small razors. Then they conceal the blade on them. Blading hasn’t been done as much since WWE became a PG product, but you can still catch it. It is highlighted in this awesome gif.
9. “They know how to fall.”
Yes, they do know how to fall. They also do it almost every other night, over and over again. Falling on their neck, knees, collar bone, etc. Slowly but surely destroying their bodies. Going to the gym. Practicing on making sure their bodies always know how to fall correctly. Landing in every type of angle and situation the match has to offer.
It takes an extreme amount of practice to be good at pro-wrestling. Just like any other craft, you have to put in your hours. You also have to train your body to not only be able to handle the physical abuse, but to perform the moves correctly so you don’t hurt your opponent.
Some of these guys are just as physically impressive as gymnasts and acrobats. Two other crafts we tend to respect more than pro-wrestlers. If a 12 year old girl hits a double twist knicker-knocker and lands on her feet, people will applaud. If a two hundred pound 45 year old wrestler does this…
No one cares.
That’s the truth. No matter how hard pro-wrestlers work at their craft they will never be respected by their peers. It is a given. They don’t deserve our praise. What they do is fake. They are a bunch of charlatans and fakers. People like to watch real sports, like boxing and the NBA. There is nothing fallacious about that.
10. It’s kind of gay.
Even if it is, what is it to you? If you are going to discredit anything that is kind of gay there is a long list of mediums in the entertainment industry you are going to have to remove yourself from. Even hip hop. Grow up and don’t be a homophobe. It’s 2014.
So in conclusion, pro-wrestling is the greatest art form on the planet. When aliens come down to Earth, they will study pro-wrestling legends like the old gods of Thor and Zeus. 10 – 20 years from now, college classes will be teaching Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock. There will even be after school pro-wrestling classes for children to participate in.
But right now, haters are going to hate, so use this handbook against them.