WWE . . . Lucha Underground . . . New Japan Pro Wrestling . . . Ring of Honor . . . Impact Wrestling . . . Yes, I follow them all to varying degrees. I started watching Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling on Saturday nights, here in NC, when I was about 5 years old (circa 1976) and haven’t really stopped for any significant amount of time since then. I did stop watching shortly after Ricky Steamboat’s retirement in 1994, only to come back in early 1996 in time for the “Monday Night Wars”.  The first reality TV show that I ever watched was WWE Tough Enough, an early look behind the curtain. By the way, the only other one I’ll watch is UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter. But the point is, I’ve seen a bit of the science behind the magic.

Still, when I mention that I’m a fan and get the response from many of you: “I can’t believe you watch that fake stuff”, it tends to irritate me a little.  First, if you choose not to watch it, that’s your choice but it doesn’t elevate you or devalue me as a person. It’s a choice. Secondly, yes, it’s predetermined. They go in knowing who’s supposed to win, but they have a multitude of pathways to arrive at that destination. Unlike a movie or TV show, the words scripted or choreographed don’t apply, because there’s no script; no director to yell “cut” to restart, if there’s a mistake; and no stunt doubles for the hard parts.  Plus, if I were to hit you full force in the face with a steel chair or club you across your shoulders with my forearm, the sensation you felt would be all too real.  All the blood is real. They suffer major, sometimes life-threatening, injuries. There have been deaths.  So, I’m guessing “fake” is relative.

However, I tend to sense major pretentiousness from those with whom I discuss this topic. I once worked teaching silk screening to people with developmental disabilities.  One of my “consumers”, who was a huge wrestling fan, asked my direct supervisor whether she enjoyed watching. Her response: “No. I’m way too intelligent for that”.  (Now, a side note here.  This has always been a pet peeve for me. If you are truly an intelligent person, people will know you are. I was an honor student all through grade school and college. And I never once had to wear a sign or sport a T-shirt to advertise my prowess. End rant.)  A simple “no” would have been more than sufficient; especially when I could name half a dozen other shows that she did watch that are probably still killing brain cells to this day.

And on that note, unless you only watch news and weather, EVERYTHING you watch on TV is fake.  Reality TV is fake . . . Prime Time television is fake . . . Netflix shows are fake . . . and don’t even get me started on boxing . . . At least the WWE tells the competitors up front that the fights are fixed.  And I’m waiting for one more “impossible comeback” or “unfortunate call” in a Super Bowl or NBA Playoff before I completely stop watching those.  As a writer, I’m big on suspension of disbelief and those setups have been horrible lately.

Lastly, I’ve heard the argument that they’re taught “how to fall”.  Well, I started in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu in 2001 and the first thing I was had to master was Ukemi, the art of falling.  In fact, it’s very similar to what professional wrestlers learn.  Likewise, I have a stronger respect for wrestlers who display a stronger knowledge of grappling and throws.  But the bottom line is that many of you, who question the validity of the showcase, would suffer greatly in an exhibition. It’s not a “real fight” but it’s probably more than you think.  Be blessed . . .

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