Purely For Entertainment Purposes Only

So, with all the bad stuff that’s happening in the world I thought I would put something up that’s purely for entertainment purposes only; and speaking of for entertainment only have you ever given any thought to professional wrestling? Now, I used to call it “wrassling” to differentiate it from real wrestling which you only see in high school, college and the Olympics, but the older I get and the more I pay attention I realize that if you’re looking to be entertained and to be invested in that entertainment professional wrestling offers opportunities you cannot find in other “professional” sports.

Either you like it or you don’t and if you don’t you’ll probably defend your position by saying, “It’s fake.” And you’ll bolster your argument by pointing out, “Nobody could take punishment like that and come back a week later and do it again.” Then you would say, it’s all choreographed. They know how it’s going to go before they ever enter the ring.”

You would be right in all your arguments; all that is except the first, it is not fake. These are not actors in front of a green screen in an action movie. These are stuntmen and women becoming principle players and acting out a choreographed play in a theatre in the square (a little play on words there, since the ring isn’t round but square, and play as in a play and play on words; oh heck if you have to explain it). Anyway it is anything but fake. It is more strenuous than gymnastics or dancing, more athletic than football or baseball and more dangerous than any other acting gig on stage or screen and for that matter any number of sports. Its continuing story lines are every bit as intriguing and twist filled as any soap opera, daytime or primetime.

I am amazed at what these people can make their bodies do and the timing of the falls and flips and “blows” and other maneuvers that make this an intriguing performance art. A woman flips herself from the top rope of the ring coming down astraddle another woman’s neck as the two then flip to the mat and the top woman uses her legs to administer a sleeper hold. Then there are the dives through the ropes and onto the concrete surfaces of the floor or surrounding tables. The chair over the head; all incredibly realistic. And yes, you are right, no one could survive such blows and keep on going, but these are real-life superheroes.

Yes, real-life superheroes. I remember when I was eleven there was a professional wrestler on my paper route. His name was Chief Little something or other, his real name was Polish but he wrestled under his Native American monicker. I saw him perform when my aunt took me to the wrestling matches that were held at one of the auditoriums downtown. He pranced around in a full war bonnet and leather vest. He did lots of worshiping the Great Spirit asking for vengeance against his White Man opponent. But then he got into the ring and, well, the skills weren’t so advanced as they are now. A lot of OWWWWing and Ohhhhing and slapping of the mat in agony. You could watch them setting up for a previously agreed upon sequence of holds and reversals, mostly arm bars and escapes and such. It was an elementary school play that has now become an entertainment venue that outdraws Broadway.

By the end of the 1950’s professional wrestling had become a dark world of over-muscled, overweight “grapplers” who were about as un-athletic as your average weight lifter and popular only with their overweight fans whose athletic workout was mostly lifting beers in a local bar. The colorful names didn’t fit; professional wrestling would have been more popular described on radio than shown on television. But now we have athletes who are every bit as capable at athletic feats as their comic book and action movie counterparts, Captain America, Wonder Woman or Batman. They are colorful, act well and provide real bone and sinew heroes who can be praised and cheered. It is a world far removed from Gorgeous George or Andre the Giant. My aunt bought me a plastic ring that was supposed to be a facsimile of one Andre wore and it was huge, but being big just wasn’t enough, although when Andre stamped the mat the entire ring and surrounding bleacher seats shook. Now, we have strength, speed and agility in the ring (and out of it as well, since a lot of the WWE drama happens elsewhere)

I’m a big ballet fan; I’ll go out of my way to watch a good ballet company perform any number of works and have become proficient in the language of the art, like do you know what they call the movement in Swan Lake when a pas de quatre holds hands and performs sixteen pas de chat in the dance of the cygnets? Well my father told me it’s called a Tutu-train, get it, Tutu-train. Now ballet is athletes performing a visual story to music and professional wrestlers are no less choreographed or skilled than ballet performers. You have to appreciate the artistry in the performance, you have to acknowledge the hours upon hours of practice it takes to make such things look as they do. So, pull up a chair and get yourself involved in professional wrestling, pick a favorite, root for them, hold your breath when it doesn’t seem like the good guy is going to be able to tag his partner. It’s purely for entertainment purposes only.

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