I make all sorts of noises when I’m watching wrestling.
I watch a hilarious amount of comedy, and although I enjoy it beyond belief- I won’t be laughing for most of it.
I guess I just one of those quite quiet kinds of guy.
I am noisiest when I am involuntary.
And I am most involuntary when I am watching wrestling and I’m doing my ‘vowel-thing’.
Not just vowels though- because I’m a fan, and because I’m a fan I compliment and I criticise. And sometimes, like a true fan, I sometimes go quiet. Because…”ssshhhh”…I’m watching wrestling.
Sitting there, sometimes standing (I am excitable), I watch as I did as a child, focusing on the screen with such a willingness to let my eyes to lose their potency to see things at a distance that I required very strong glasses by the time I was eight and I’d become something of an expert. At least as much of an expert as someone that has no one to counter them can be. When you’re on your own, you’re normally correct purely as a matter of majority.
Now, first things first (which I hear is a fairly popular place to start), I am fully aware that wrestling is largely an act. The wrestlers don’t hate each other, the storylines (known as kayfabe) are…storyline…, and nobody is from a place called “Part Unknown”.
But I feel that the argument about the business being fake is redundant, OBVIOUSLY it is storyline and OBVIOUSLY (obviously enough for me to over-do CAPS LOCK) they aren’t trying to kill each other. They are, however, at times pushing themselves so close to danger that you could argue they are trying to kill themselves for your entertainment. The point is to NEARLY kill yourself; people will always like that about you.
The catalogue of injuries that a professional wrestler obtains throughout a brief career is extensive and, one would assume for a regular person, lifestyle changing. A blow to the knee like that would be something that men would tell each other whilst in a pub and promoting their appearance of manliness. It can work, but it is undoubtedly more manly to not refer to this at all, unless prompted to by others. This is what pro-wrestlers do. They don’t talk about it, they just suffer it and smile.
A specially designed steel chair being whammed into the head is something that most people could deal with, but afterwards they’d likely be allowed to go home from work, whereas wrestlers go to work to have this done to them, and although it is withstandable- it really, really hurts.
From what it would seem from some consequences, it might hurt so much that you strangle your family and leave a bible next to their bodies (for further info research BENOIT). Other times you might turn out like the world-famous (now perhaps more owing to movies than wrestling) actor Dwayne ‘The ROCK’ Johnson. He is healthy, wealthy and wise, and doesn’t look like he’s ever cut his own forehead open to make you happy. This process is known as ‘blading’, where a wrestler cuts his forehead to make the blood come out to the sound applause.
I have also watched local wrestling from the ringside, and enjoyed this enormously too, with the added spectacle of the more BRITISH side of wrestling which amounts more to size than muscle (these men’s skin wobbled a lot, but they consequently made everything else wobble even more).
It was here that you really appreciate the main formula for pro-wrestling. Kick him in the face as hard as you can, so that it is as loud as possible, whilst hurting him as little as possible. This happens nightly for some and all the training they can do is how to get kicked in the face and deal with it, and how to kick someone else in the face, whilst doing a flip (entirely necessary) and not hurting them to the degree that they cannot continue.
You can tell this is true by the way that they get back up again.
You can also tell by the sound. You see this, and you will let loose some vowels of your own.
I love this, the athleticism and the hard-knocks of it all. My appreciation is a mix of pity and jealously. Pity that your wage is balanced on your getting harmed as loudly as possible, jealously that you’re managing it whilst apparently still able to do rudimentary addition.
The storyline aspect is another criticised theme of pro-wrestling, and is another part that I am enthralled watching.
On the television, WWE and TNA offer this soap-opera version, whilst local wrestling offers the pantomime alternative.
The soap opera version has a tremendous ability to tap into the general feeling of (mainly) the USA. Looking at how in times such as the Gulf War- the main ‘HEEL’ (bad guy) was a disgraced US soldier named Sergeant Slaughter with his ‘manager’ (out of ring side-kick) of an Iraqi general named ‘General Adnan’– a man who actually went to high school with Saddam Hussein. His opponent- the American hero Hulk Hogan- would enter flying the stars and stripes and saying he was doing it for the brave guys and gals over there and that he was doing it because he was a patriot that loved freedom, Coca Cola, and the free market.
The two would wrestle, the ‘heel’ would cheat, Hulk would use his good old fashioned American know-how, guts and heart to push his way out of the ‘Arabian’ submission manoeuvre (actually called the ‘Camel Clutch’) and start punching the bad guy till people got the metaphor. The metaphor was that he was America, Slaughter was Saddam Hussein and punching was the beautiful export that ensured American victory in the name of freedom and further punching.
This was of course in the early nineties, and though times have changed the formula remains- stay current with what the people are up to.
Lately, people are losing their homes and jobs, whilst ubiquitously using social media. Therefore, WWE storylines incorporate wrestling characters that are bankrupt, being made to do what the evil ‘heel’ character demands in exchange for help with their mortgage. Or- wrestlers actually complain and fight about what someone said about them on Twitter of YouTube. Being able to ‘follow’ or be ‘friends’ with these wrestlers is magic to the children.
This formula differs from the local-ring wrestling, which incorporates pantomime aspects so as to bring out the cheers and jeers. References to suggested homosexuality of the opponent, hide-and-seek, arguing with the audience, things to do with testicles and references to popular culture- all these things can be found at a local wrestling show…and it works.
The fans, the true fans- truer than me, are a special breed of people. They are also involuntary, but they seem to really believe what’s happening in front of them. The typically middle-age-plus woman will have taken her young grandchild and will be yelling at the ring and staring with such burning intensity that she surely emits more enthusiasm than any latter generation.
She is wearing her favourite wrestler’s T-Shirt, and her toy- figure of him is in the glove compartment of her car. She could tell you how to watch wrestling with far more experience and sheer guts than I could ever replicate. Partly because I understand the business, and she genuinely believes this foreign man has hypnotised her favourite, number one, lovely hair-cut, always smiling and oh-my-what-nice-legs wrestler. And as I said- the other guy is foreign! Not even a foreigner from this country…from a dark country…plenty of sand. Maybe too much sand- the measure of a man.
I watch wrestling to enjoy the soap-opera silliness that can make a stadium erupt in gasps, to enjoy the pantomime hilarity of two men running around the ring and leaping into the front row of very-grasping women. I watch to enjoy the athleticism that these performers risk showing at the expense of never being able to do the move, or walk, again…and I watch to enjoy the part inside me that makes those vowels exit.
But mostly, I watch because I used to watch it with my grandmother- a lady who, whilst watching, would be far louder than I. Gutsier too.
Last things last (also a popular order). Wrestling is fun, and that’s all. It has no great message aside from being something to be enjoyed by the entire family. It is pantomime and I recommend it.
It is an ancient business, and when watching, on a TV or at a show, you’re going to appreciate why.
Either that, or have someone hit you in the head with a folded steel chair- that is definitely something you should try in the home.