There's more to pro wrestling than tight outfits and guys slamming into each other
Wrestling with Realism
Life itself has an unwritten truth represented in the motto of the Transformers: "More than meets the eye". The truth is that the world around us is more complicated than we often think on a daily basis. This tendency to not look beneath isn't necessarily awful, but it should be important to once in a while recognize the work and effort that goes into our everyday lives. I made pizzas for an entire year, and I highly doubt that as the customers walked back to their seat with a classic Vincent Solano original they were thinking, "We sure are grateful for you, pizza boy." Every once in a while, on a slow day, there would be that customer who would say, "Hey man, good work back there," as they were walking out. Those simple gestures felt good and remind me that some parts of my life are more complex under the surface. This can be demonstrated by the reason Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson gives for his successful acting career: Professional wrestling. I believe that professional wrestling's legitimacy doesn't lie in its realism but in its art.
Pretend it's 2007. Bush is halfway through his second term, the iPhone has been introduced, and seven-year-old-John-Cena-fanatic Vincent is having the same conversation with the playground kids every day:
"What are your favorite TV shows, Vincent?" a kid would ask.
"SpongeBob, Pokon, Wrestling..."
"Wrestling? You know that stuff is fake, right?"
Those conversations bothered me back then and still bother me today. Yes, professional wrestling is staged and pre-determined, but so are Pokon and SpongeBob. However, Pikachu and Patrick Star don't get the same level of ridicule for not being real. Try to remember a time in your life when you didn't like a novel, film, song, video game, play, or TV show purely because it was an orchestrated form of entertainment. Sports aside, isn't entertainment supposed to be staged and take you out of reality?
Why does professional wrestling's bad reputation bother me? For starters, professional wrestling takes years to master, and most individuals that commit to wresting aren't met with Hulk Hogan levels of fame. Professional wrestlers put their bodies on the line day in and day out. A wresting match is rarely scripted from start to finish. Most wrestling matches have a basic skeleton, but the professional wrestlers fill in the spaces with their athletic abilities. The entire time, the referee is being fed instructions to help dictate the match based on the crowd's reaction. Professional wrestlers are constantly displaying new moves and techniques to keep the product engaging. In other words, professional wrestling is a highly creative job. A creative job that rivals a film or novel. A creative job that is demanding and constantly switching cities, which requires a lot of time away from family and friends. A creative job that is essentially constant method acting yet often delegitimized for that reason.
Seeing Avengers: Infinity War is one of my favorite movie experiences. This is primarily because the massive crowd at the theater with an engaging audience that cared for the film as if the screen were coming to life. The whole night felt like I was at an event rather than seeing a movie. As the ending unfolded, I was surrounded by people who could hardly believe the earth-shaking finale. What I don't remember was everyone booing and throwing their popcorn at the screen because Thanos wasn't a real person and didn't actually kill half of the superheroes. Admittedly, Marvel movies currently appeal to a larger audience than professional wrestling shows. Professional wrestling doesn't have Avengers levels of appeal to many, but negative opinions should focus on the craft of professional wrestling rather than the authenticity.
A stuntman--ironically another job that is underappreciated--that just had an explosion occur behind him for the plot isn't going to be silent and motionless. That stuntman's job is to make you believe the explosion was real. Professional wrestlers are basically stuntmen that seek to make you believe they are fighting. To you playground kids who still couldn't care less about wrestling, I was never trying to convince you to watch. I just wanted you to say:
"Wrestling sucks because it's boring."
"Wresting sucks because its fake."