Of Course We Know Wrestling Is Fake!.. Right?

Glad It's FakeWhen I was a young lad, perhaps between 12-15, I don’t, maybe my brother Jason – as he’s older – will have a better recollection.  But we would watch wrestling whenever we were hanging out at home and had the opportunity.  Some of the plot lines were awesome – to me at the time at least – like the one where Sting would always emerge from the darkness and deliver a whooping to nine people, including Hulk Hogan.

Remember Sting, The Lights Would Go Out And He’d Descend From the Rafters?  That Was Cool.

It looked like Sting was invincible, and so he got his heavy weight bout with Hulk Hogan.  Just the two of them – but wait, Sting had, on several recent occasions, beaten the crap out of … everyone who was a heel, and many of the times that resulted in Hulk Hogan literally running away.  But when it came down to the one on one match, it did not end with the first ten seconds with Hulk pleading for mercy.  On the contrary, Hulk Hogan got in a good many blows.  I think Sting won, or Hogan cheaply got the belt with some lame cowardly tactic at the time.. I can’t recall.  Maybe Jason does.

Some Good Times

When paper views were on sometimes there’d be small parties.  Everyone was real excited watching the matches, and it appeared brutal, and the plot lines were somewhat engaging, at least enough to stir up an emotional investment in the fights.  But none of us were stupid.  We knew it was scripted, at least as far as the winner of the match would be.  Some moves, and some key parts of the matches would be scripted too – maybe all of it – but sometimes just parts, and the wrestlers were trained enough to improvise with those they trained so closely together for months, or years.

Chilling Out And Not Worrying About Ensuring You’re Perceived As Intellectual

We knew it was a drama, we knew the wrestlers were well trained in how to land and take a punch, and that their colleague was equally trained in how to deliver the most visually vicious impacts with as minimum damage as possible.  These guys are big and strong, they train a lot, and they got the good stuff when it comes to supplements.  They’re tough enough to take real pain and injury – sometimes substantial – and that’s why they either survive in the game or not.

When you’re watching a soap opera, you know it’s not true, but you don’t need to remind yourself and all those around you every five seconds, just to ensure people know you’re of a certain intellectual capacity.  You immerse yourself in the experience and enjoy it; the same with the wrestling fan.  Wrestling has come out some time ago, labeling itself quite clearly as entertainment.  The WWF – World Wrestling Federation – became the WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment.

What Exactly Is Fake?

When you watch a movie, is it a fake movie?  When you watch a play, is it a fake play?  Yes, you can in contrast to your current worldview of reality, depending on the play, but you need to go a step further and say the play itself was fake.  It was a play and it happened, thus it was real.  Wrestling is a play, one filled with violence that’s enjoyable to watch in the context of the plots and sub plots. at least for millions of people.  I haven’t watched wrestling in a long time but if it was on TV and I was fortunate enough to be hanging out with my brother, I’d check it out.  It comes down to examining how exactly you perceive what constitutes fake.

In a movie there’s stunt doubles, or sometimes the main actor does it themselves.  Sometimes there are injuries.  Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, broke his foot during the filming of The Two Towers and cried out in genuine anguish.  But in the context of the scene, it played out like deep frustration and grief for having perceived to have failed the halflings.  It was the right cut, and Viggo had the poise to pull it off and make it work.  He really did break his foot, it wasn’t fake.

Wrestling is faked to the extent that it’s not like boxing or UFC.  We know this, it’s self evident, or it should be.  There’s a script, not only in all kinds of dramas, but how the characters will develop, and who will get the next belt title for the paperview special.  But the wrestlers know that, and they still consider what they’re doing real.  Sure, they know how to fall just so.. and all the rest of it, but if you’ve watched enough wrestling, you know it’s not magic, they’re not avoiding the fact their bodies are being punished.

The Tragic Story Of Chris Bonoit, And A Really Stupid Signature Finishing Move

Chris Benoit used to do the dumbest move I’ve ever seen, and I knew it at the time.  An opponent would be laying on their back, seemingly unaware of their environment, or too exhausted to escape.  Chris would lay a steel chair across their midsection – sometimes their head, but sometimes just the torso – and he’d leap off the top rope, head first in a dive into the chair.  It was always spectacularly obvious how much more it hurt him than the other guy.

In the end Chris Benoit sadly committed a double homicide and then took his own life.  I’m merely speculating, but I don’t think unfairly, that he may have had some brain damage.  Or perhaps wrestling was the only outlet keeping him sane, and he had a predisposed condition towards violence.  I will judge no further, but I do believe it speaks to the fact over so long careers, spanning decades, a toll is taken on the wrestler, one we cheapen when we call it fake outright.  It’s a nuanced kind of fake, but the wrestler probably doesn’t want to talk about it – some might, some don’t, as you’ll see below.

Let’s have a repetitive viewing of John Stossel interviewing a professional wrestler and bringing up the fact he thought wrestling was fake.

That guy sure thought it real.  To these guys it’s real.  It’s fake, and it’s real.  I think we can let go of the antiquated notion that entertainment wrestling is completely real.   Only people with mesh hats sitting atop their heads just might have a chance of believing that.  The movie The Wrestler with Micky Rourke was a powerful movie in showing the cold realities for some retired, or ‘ has been’ wrestlers.

Louie Theroux explores the world of entertainment wrestling.  I recommend you look more into his work if you haven’t already. He’s fun to watch.

I’ll leave you with this last video of Louie Theroux and how he had made a similar mistake.  While interviewing one of the trainers at the site of a match, he questioned whether or not wrestling was real or fake.  The trainer invited him to come see for himself.  They basically bullied him, and at times it was just a bit disturbing to watch.  But you get a sense, these guys take it seriously, these guys take it for real. 

One thought on “Of Course We Know Wrestling Is Fake!.. Right?”

  1. Great recap on how protective some guys are of the wrestling business. Also, poor “Dr. D” (David Schulz) getting “hung out to dry” after the news reporter incident. Schulz was a terrific heel, especially the vignette when WWF cameras came to his “home” to meet his “family”. That was some funny stuff and within 5 minutes you had to hate him as a kid. Great job on the promos and solid in the ring!

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