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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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Wrestling: Real And Fake

By @Cool_Calm_Chris(Christopher Evans)

“You watch wrestling? You know its fake right??"

The question that every pro wrestling fan encounters at some point in their lives. Most fans and wrestlers all seem to take offense to this question whenever asked. It seems very demeaning to ask the question, as it is a way for non pro wrestling fans to question the intelligence of those that enjoy the product. How could one knowingly enjoy a product that they know is not as legitimately competitive of a sport as something like Mixed Martial Arts or Boxing?

While the answer might not be satisfying to either side, when explained in detail both parties should be able to come to a satisfying conclusion, because while neither side is completely right, neither side is completely wrong. Pro Wrestling, you could sum up as being just as real as it is fake, and when broken down, you can easily explain why. Let’s look at the reasoning for why pro wrestling is real first, as pro wrestling is probably the most physically demanding form of physical competition. Just look at what the wrestling rings are made of, with elevated steel beams, wired ropes, metal turnbuckles and foam padding and a canvas mat covering the wood plank stage, not to mention all the weapons that surround the ring.

Being a pro wrestler is an unforgiving job, and on many different occasions, wrestling legend Diamond Dallas Page has been quoted in regards to pro wrestling as saying “You can’t fake gravity”, which says a lot. Pro wrestlers work an unbelievable schedule, as most work over 300 days a year with few breaks in between. Their bodies have very little time to recover and most work injured, to the point that they either get used to the pain or it just becomes overwhelming. For example, former WWE superstar and current TNA superstar Kurt Angle has been dealing with recurring neck injuries since his time as an Olympic wrestler. While having dealt with a number of other injuries in his career, Angle has been dealing with neck injuries for his entire career, and just recently he underwent successful surgery to remove a benign tumor in his neck. While pro wrestlers run the risk of dealing with injury, they are surprisingly still able to perform at a high risk when the bell rings.

As much as people are tired of him at this point (and rightfully so), it is hard to argue that John Cena has worked without question the hardest schedule of any man in his position. As the top superstar in the WWE, John Cena is on the road 24/7 and constantly having to work as the face of the company. Nobody has since been able to work the schedule Cena has been able to endure for this long, just look at WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin was for the most part the face of WWE for a solid five or six years, John Cena has been the man in WWE for the better part of a decade. It is difficult for WWE superstars to maintain a high level of athleticism for long periods, just imagine how difficult it is for the pro wrestler on the independent level to work. These athletes have a lot less means of safety at their disposal than WWE superstars have and yet they work at a way more dangerous pace. Just look at some of the current talent in the company that worked for Ring of Honor, such as Sami Zayn and Cesaro. These athletes threw themselves around the ring with very little regard for their safety just to give an amazing show, and more often than not they accomplished that goal at the expense of their body.

So yes, in that aspect, wrestling is very real, but there is just as good of a reason for those that consider pro wrestling to be fake. While pro wrestling is very physical, it is scripted. The matches are pre-determined and in most cases are worked out between the wrestlers and an agent beforehand. The moves are done in a way so that they look very physical, but a great talent will be able to do them as safely as possible. Take a guy like Brock Lesnar, the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion looks like he is delivering the worst possible beating to his opponents, but he knows exactly what he is doing in that ring. Brock Lesnar does work a very brutal style, but can most likely assure that his opponent will be safe in the ring. This leads to my next point, selling and taking bumps.

A great pro wrestler can make others look amazing in the ring. Guys like Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, and Cody Rhodes are often praised for the way they are able to make their opponents look great in the ring just by how well they are able to take bumps off a wide array of moves. While taking bumps may look rather impressive, it is the selling of the match that makes a great pro wrestler. Take a match with Brock Lesnar for example, his opponent is supposed to sell the beating he is taking as if he is taking the beating of a lifetime. Why? Because this helps add to the story that is being told in the ring that Lesnar is an unstoppable force and anyone that steps in his path will be annihilated. If anyone were to not sell his moves, it would make Lesnar look weak, which is not something you want to do, especially considering that he is one of the biggest stars in the company.

So yes, in that aspect, pro wrestling is very fake, but there is a more obvious reason as to why people consider pro wrestling to be fake. Just look at the WWE, the WWE is the hood ornament of pro wrestling and it is the one product that people generally look to when describing pro wrestling. So what they see on WWE programing is what they believe pro wrestling is, and in most cases that can be a bad thing. WWE is filled with over-the-top gimmick characters, as if they were pulled right out of a comic book. You’ve got a deadman (The Undertaker), a cult leader (Bray Wyatt), a vibrant comic book villain (Stardust), a king (King Barrett), and a demon (Finn Balor). The older you look into WWE’s history, the characters get even worse. Earthquake, Bastian Booger, Big Boss Man, Kamala, Papa Shango, Mankind, Max Moon, the Brooklyn Brawler, King Cong Bundy, Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, the Mountie, Duke the Dumpster, Junkyard Dog, and yes the Gobbledy Gooker.

Another major reason why people will call wrestling fake would have to be the storylines. Just look at one of the big storylines in WWE today, the relationship issues between Dolph Ziggler, Lana, Rusev, and Summer Rae. This and a number of other storylines like it have a soap opera-like feel to them and are more based on drama then they are about pro wrestling. Very often in pro wrestling you'll see stories like this or stories that will get even more dramatic. Let's not forget that awful Katie Vick storyline involving Kane and Triple H.

Vince McMahon is an evil genius to say the least. He has given us fans some unforgettable rivalries, such as The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin, however he has given us fans some moments that we would like to forget. Moments like Vince McMahon and his son Shane wrestling Shawn Michaels and, I can't believe I am writing this, God, are moments that have devalued pro wrestling in the eyes of most people. The fact that he would rather call pro wrestling "Sports Entertainment" just shows how he feels about the sport.

So yes, while there is a legitimate reason why pro wrestling should be considered as real, there is just as much of a reason for why someone would call it fake. Personally, I do not care, I am still going to enjoy the product, but for those that needed an answer to the ever debated question, I hope that was a solid enough answer.



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