Not so fake

As I was channel surfing on a Monday night, I stumbled upon my first professional wrestling match. The two competitors were Triple H and Shawn Michaels, two men that were once best friends, but now bitter enemies. I stared at the television screen, taking it all in, when Michaels kicked Triple H straight in the chin. Thinking he was down for the count, I was astonished when Triple H kicked out at the count of two.

On the edge of my seat, I watched in excitement as the two battled it out some more. In the end, the bad guy, Triple H, defeated Michaels after he nailed him with a sledgehammer to the face while Ric Flair, Triple H’s partner, distracted the referee. I thought it was the end for Michaels, who was bleeding profusely. The following week, Michaels would come back for more.

Fast forward eight years later and I am now fully aware that this was all just an act. In other words, it was fake. Yet, despite my knowledge, I am constantly reminded that pro-wrestling is completely bogus.

“Dude, you know that stuff is fake, right?” As a matter of fact, dude, I do know it is fake, but so is just about everything you watch on television. From Glee to, yes, even Jersey Shore, which is claimed to be reality television, the majority of our favorite television shows are just an act. Just like people do not die from sledgehammer shots to the head, people do not break out in song and dance in the middle of class. It is all for our entertainment purposes.

So, my question is, what sets wrestling apart from the other television shows? Is it the fact that it is so over the top and ridiculous? Or maybe it is the countless times a guy my size takes down somebody as large as Shaquille O’Neal? Well, that’s exactly what makes it so entertaining. I would rather see someone get smacked by a steel chair than dance around to obnoxious music in a nightclub.

Besides, pro-wrestling is not even all that fake. Yes, the results are predetermined. Yes, the shows are scripted, but so are all movies and television shows. It is really no different. Except it is.

A common misconception is that because wrestling is “fake,” there is really no risk of injury. This is not the case. Wrestlers put their body on the line every night. While the framework of a match may be predetermined, things can go awry and serious injury could result. Take, for instance, the time when Japanese wrestler Mitsuharu Misawa died after a belly-to-back suplex caused a severe spinal cord injury. While this is a more extreme case, the fact that wrestlers put their bodies on the line each and every night is a reason why they deserve more respect than they receive. Think twice before calling them, “sweaty men wearing spandex.”

Wrestlers and the wrestling business as a whole deserve credit for the entertainment and shows they put on, much like actors in movies and even at our own theatre productions deserve praise. Just like the young actors in the auditorium, the ones in the squared circle and creating art. Any time something is made from nothing, it is art. Any time John Cena and The Rock face off, it is art. While your prefered art may be the flamboyant, cheerful television show Glee, mine is the male soap opera called professional wrestling.

These days, I look back on that Monday night when I was first introduced to the world of professional wrestling and I realize I was lucky it caught my attention. It has given me a hobby, something to love, and something to be passionate about. It also saved me from being sucked into the world of “reality” television, which could have been on that next channel.