Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Why do people hold pro wrestling being fake against it?

I don't get it. I'm only a WWE fan as of around this time in 2005, and I love it - for what it is. My favorite shows are the 1990s Star Trek - Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager - and I know Star Trek isn't real. There's no question that the popular TV shows - Seinfeld, Friends, Full House, whatever - aren't real. They're scripted serial stories that their fans watch faithfully every week.

RAW - the one I watch the most and can speak the most about - isn't like most TV shows. Like others, the characters act their roles fairly convincingly, and entertain the audience. While Vince McMahon really is the chairman of WWE, the company, the company exists in the fiction, or kayfabe as it's called in the pro wrestling industry, and Mr. McMahon, the character, doesn't reflect the real Vince McMahon, but is based on him. (A couple wrestlers' books paint the real Vince McMahon as serious, businesslike, professional, and a little quiet.)

And then WWE itself, in real life, is merely an entertainment company. They make money providing entertainment. On the show, though, they're a bona fide wrestling federation with real championships. None of the belts hold any merit whatsoever, but does it matter? I mean, how much would it have mattered if Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ended with the Dominion winning? Not at all, because it's a fictional world.

There's nothing at all real about the outcome of the matches. The polls (Cyber Sunday, the Diva Search, et al) are rigged. However the action is real. It's practised, it's rehearsed, but special effects are very minimal, limited to pyrotechnics, and what you see them doing is mostly authentic. Sure, punches are pulled, and some objects they use as weapons don't hurt as much as they let on (they "sell" the moves, as it were), but the acrobatic stuff (e.g. Jeff Hardy's Swanton Bomb) isn't done with bungee cords, it's real enough.

I think they were really fooling people in the 70s and 80s, but now I think most people who sit down and watch Monday Night RAW pretty much know what's going on. The kayfabe may not be as transparent to them as it is to me, but I'm sure it's not as opaque as the performers pretend it is. They may not know that, after a bloody match, Triple H and Randy Orton share a drink and some laughs by the refreshment table backstage, but they know the outcome is predetermined and the match, rehearsed. Or at least most of them do.

So why do people like me like wrestling? Same reason I like Star Trek. It's not real, but it's sure as hell entertaining.

For more information, click the word Kayfabe above to learn about it, it's a little different than fiction, but the differences are hard to explain.


Anonymous said...

it's also has bad acting and bad story lines. it's a male soap opera. wake up

Nathan Jolly said...

A soap opera is nothing more than a romantic drama similar to the early romantic dramas that were sponsored and produced by soap companies. (That being said, you're basically right, except for the lack of any real romance. Though it would be funny if they got a sponsorship with one of the soap companies. Wait. Doesn't Axe sponsor them sometimes? Oh damn!)

Anyway, bad acting and writing can be found in virtually every sitcom ever made. The formula is simple. Write a story about basic home life around the comedian (Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, etc.) and base the plot around the comedian's jokes. Some episodes work better than others, but all they really amount to is setup for mostly average jokes.