It hasn’t been a very good start to 2018 for me and sports. The Patriots’ loss was crushing (the greatest postseason performance of all time, and we still lost!), the Celts seem to have lost their magic from the season’s start (Marcus tore his thumb tendon, Jesus!), I don’t really care about regular season hockey, and spring training is a snooze fest. But there’s been one bright spot, and that’s the WWE.
No. Wait! Don’t click away! Give me time to explain myself.
This is Newton. If we were any more the intellectual elite, we would all have British accents, so I know that there’s an immediate dismissal of wrestling. “That sort of thing is for the uncultured,” we say, or, “It’s so simple,” or, “You know it’s fake, right?” I was like that as well. It seemed dumb and ridiculous. I was a fan of sports for the higher classes. Smart people watch strong people make each other into stupid people (I love football). So it’s fair to say that I was not a fan. Sure, I had the occasional thought of giving it a try, especially, because Jon Stewart seemed to be such a big fan, but I never did, until one night I was aimlessly channel surfing and landed on USA which was playing an episode of Monday Night Raw. I was immediately hooked. I watched SmackDown the next night, and then Raw the next week, and I’ve been on the bandwagon ever since.
So I love it, why should you? What makes wrestling so great? Let’s start with the whole “you know it’s fake” issue. To start, OF COURSE, I KNOW IT’S FAKE. Are you saying that there isn’t an undead gravedigger who is also a professional athlete for some reason? Because if there isn’t then I have to seriously reconsider my world view. Kidding aside, the great thing about wrestling is that it’s fake. Because all of it is scripted, anything is possible. You don’t get dead periods like in regular sports. There’s always some rivalry going on or some build to the next big event. Or the stories are crazy, and they’re things that could never happen in real life which makes them all the more interesting. Nobody complains that Game of Thrones (I can’t believe we have to wait another year) is fake. Obviously, it is. WWE is a TV show about a sport, not a sport itself.
And yet it is also an athletic spectacle. Do yourself a favor and Google “Jeff Hardy swanton bomb.” The faux nature of wrestling allows the wrestlers to put on something amazing. “Real” wrestling, as athletically difficult as it is, is boring. In WWE, people can get thrown through tables, catapulted ten feet into the air, smacked through barricades, and pushed off of cages. Matches are less like competitions and more like dances, with the wrestlers helping each other pull off unbelievable maneuvers.
And after you’re into the wrestling for the wrestling comes the metawatching. WWE is fake, and with that in mind, you have someone to blame if the best wrestler doesn’t win. So you pin that on the company and complain about how WWE didn’t book the match right and how if you were doing it you would have done it sooooo much better, and here’s ten reasons why Finn Balor should be champion. The metawatching adds an entire layer to the experience that doesn’t exist in regular sports or regular TV. Unfortunately, I can’t blame a writers’ room for the Pats loss, nor can I really get upset when Jamie dies on the next season of GOT (and I know it’s going to happen) because it’s not like someone else could have gone in his place, only his actor pissed off someone backstage.
Wrestling is pure, concentrated awesomeness. It combines all the best elements of sports with the best elements of scripted television. It’s intense, exciting, and suspenseful. The stereotype that it’s only for people with more cows than brain cells is unfair. Yes, sometimes wrestling is ridiculous, but there’s a lot of hours of TV to fill, and when it’s good, it’s really good. So give it a watch. At least to humor me.
By Tali Falk-Judson