Welcome everyone to an infiltrated version of Kris’ weekly blog series: Tuesday Walk of Shame. Here I hang my head low as I admit to having watched the previous night’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Today, I’ll tell you what wrestling is. I’ll tell you why you should care. And most importantly, I’ll invite you to share in my shame.
Some of you may remember me from my semi-regular series, Mangirling, in which I usually rant about whatever I want to yell at the internet about. Now, it came to my attention recently that the Bachelor family of network programs is on a break for three months, so after hours of brainstorming I came up with a solution to the vexing question of how you should spend your Monday nights, and I’d like to share it with you today. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you: Professional Wrestling!
Why pick wrestling? Simple, wrestling is the apex species in the fandom Tree of Life. I know you Marvel fans think your movies and TV shows are pretty special and Doctor Who fans love that The Doctor is now in its 12th iteration and Harry Potter has 4 (and only four) Houses, 7 books, 8 movies, and one great photo of Daniel Radcliffe. But all that pales in comparison to the WWE. Wrestling gives us 5 hours of new TV a week that matter, many more hours that don’t, a monthly pay-per-view special, its own minor league system that also has weekly TV shows and pay per views, and the WWE network. Mind blowing, isn’t it? That doesn’t even include the dozens of podcasts, message boards, fan fiction sites, other wrestling federations, YouTube videos, action figures, video games, and Reddit. Oh, Reddit.
The true beauty of wrestling comes from the different levels of fandom. You see, there are actually two story lines happening at all times. There’s the kayfabe story and the real life behind the scene drama. We all know John Cena is the US Champion (there are 5 championships: WWE, Intercontinental, US, Tag, Divas) and Nikki is the former Divas champion, but did you know they are dating? Did you know Cena is the golden boy backstage and openly advocated for Nikki to break the record for longest holder of the Divas belt? Whether you know or not, care or not, pay attention or not, the backstage stories have a huge impact on what happens in front of the camera. Or does it? No one knows. Wrestling fans have literal decades of past drama and conspiracy theories to consider when we’re trying to figure out what is going to happen next. Whether John Stewart is going to come in and ruins a championship match or a baby face (good guy) becomes a heel (bad guy) in the blink of an eye or a wrestler gets a grotesque staph infection the story lines are infinite and so are the possibilities. Good luck making your fantasy book (script) match that reality.
Amazingly, the WWE story has been unfolding for the past 50 years by having world class athletes perform high wire stunts and acrobatics in front of an always snarky live audience. You know how the athletic scenes in sports movies never quite look right? Those scenes are the back bone and life blood of wrestling. Every single grudge, story, and conflict is solved by the most unbelievable part of a sports movie. Imagine how good Bull Durham would have been if it was judged on Tim Robbins ability to look like a pitcher. God that’s awful! That’s not what a pitcher looks like. His wacky throwing motion was designed to mask the fact that his arm doesn’t have a clue how to throw a baseball. Look again and watch his arm motion, a mid-level 12 year old can throw harder than him. Was Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story any less of a comedy because the dodgeball was awful? Hell no. That was a great movie, even if the actual dodgeballing was simply the worst. Wrestling, however, is not like that. Wrestling is judged by the acting second and the athleticism first. If anyone messes up a move or flubs a line on the first take you can be damn sure everyone noticed and someone is going to make a YouTube video of it. Search Botchamania – there are hundreds, if not thousands of hours of video devoted to minor screw ups. How fun is that? Even if you want to believe wrestling is fake, the athleticism is very real. The risks they take are real. The injuries are real. The eye-popping OMG moments man, those are real. Watch this video and think of what was needed to pull off that move in front of a live audience and get only one take.
Wrestling gives you an unparalleled combination of content, script, and action, but it doesn’t end there. WWE has broken down the fourth wall and turned the “WWE Universe” into it’s own character. It’s a character that matters and must be accounted for. Wrestling fans have elevated events in the pantheon of greatness and ruined big events when we didn’t like the (pre-determined) outcomes. Literally. The WWE had to edit crowd noise out of this year’s Royal Rumble. Two years ago the fans forced the main event at Wrestlemania to be changed because, well, we could force them to do it just by booing everyone. Other fandoms, bless their pretty little hearts, simple don’t have that level interaction. You ship Robin Hood and the Evil Queen from Once Upon A Time? Good for you! Tell the internet – see what happens. Wrestling fans can openly advocate for the storylines we want to see, in person and on TV, and the WWE listens! Have you ever seen a Survivor blooper reel? What about weekly series of comedic Game of Thrones vignettes from Jon Snow? (RIP – he’s dead. Forever.) How fun would it be to follow everyone from Frozen on twitter while they tweeted in character? What fan wouldn’t like that, if it was an option? Wrestling fans have all that at our fingertips 24/7 – an endless supply of official and fan created content. Fans of legitimate sports don’t get that much content; much less Maze Runner aficionados who have to wait another year for two more hours of entertainment.
Thank you for allowing me to takeover this week’s Tuesday Walk of Shame and come back next time as I launch a monthly blog series devoted to the action, drama, and fan speculation that makes the WWE my secret Monday Night shame.
Would you like to know more?
Johnny, the Undisputed, Rico.