Professional wrestling; it’s a…sport? Wait. The outcomes are predetermined? Well then it’s gotta be entertainment right? What’s that? Many wrestlers engage in hardcore training exercises, break bones, and destroy brain cells during matches? Sounds like the NFL.
In all seriousness, I’m not here to tell you that wrestling is real. I’m not here to tell you that Vince McMahon is a perfect boss. I’m not going to be a mark, pro wrestling term for a fan that knows way too much inside knowledge, and tell you why WWE sucks and you should only watch Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling, although I will tell you why you should watch all three.
No, this writing is why you should give pro wrestling a chance. I can already hear you typing. “Richard, you’re 20 years old and you still watch pro wrestling? You know it’s fake right?”
And yes, I do. But I assume that you dear reader enjoy watching shows such as The Walking Dead, House of Cards,and, my personal favorite, Breaking Bad? And you agree that these shows are not actually happening? Like we are not fending off zombies every day and, most likely, no science teacher in Albuquerque is a meth kingpin with more money than the Mexican Cartel.
Wrestling is the same thing. No undead wizard is really sending his opponents into the depths of hell and no Irish man is really turning into a demon/the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper, (you’re going to find out that wrestling gets really weird).
It’s basically like a broadway play put on tv. Thousands of people pack into arenas to watch these performers, or in the case of WWE, the official term now being “sports entertainers,” master their craft, speak in long monologues, and do heart pounding stunts that result in chants of “Holy fecal matter!”
Yes, wrestling is predetermined, but it is not fake. These men and women put their bodies at risk every night. Currently two WWE wrestlers, Daniel Bryan and Nikki Bella, have face career threatening injuries such as concussions and slipped disks. Tyson Kidd was almost paralyzed eight months ago after a move gone wrong caused him to land directly on the top of his head.
There are more stories, such as the time Sabu taped up his arm in the middle of a barbed wire match to avoid bleeding out and how Mick Foley permanently lost part of his ear when he was tangled up in the ropes in a match in Germany. Heck, if you watched wrestling during the 1990s and look at Mick Foley now, you know exactly why he walks with a limp and why his face is so scarred.
These injuries happen, and they are terrible. And yet these men and women go out every night and put their bodies, their lives, and their careers on the line for the fans.
So now you’re probably wondering, besides the injuries, why should I watch wrestling? Well wrestling has some very interesting storylines. Would you watch a show where the main character’s wife is stalked by a demon who was scarred in a fire that killed his parents? That sounds like American Horror Story to me.
What about a story about a young rookie trying to get respect but being shut down by his boss repeatedly, because he’s not good enough, to the point where he is left in a bloody mess but finally earns respect because he never quit? That’s basically Rocky. And what about a story of a gang of crazy male cheerleaders that want to stop a group of 45 year old men from crotch chopping and making inappropriate jokes? That…hasn’t been made that I know of, but it sounds awesome, and it’s been done before inside a WWE ring.
But what if you're not so sure about WWE? That’s understandable. Like the NFL, World Wrestling Entertainment is not a perfect company, but they have improved. While WWE has been accused of giving its talent steroids, dismissing sexual harassment claims of its employees, and honoring a man that killed his family before having all of the evidence of his crime, the company has now started anti bullying campaigns, a children’s reading program, and has a yearly shows for members of the Armed Forces.
However, there are alternatives to WWE. There’s Impact Wrestling, which airs every Tuesday night at nine on Pop TV. Personally, I call it WWE Lite because it features many former WWE wrestlers that didn’t quite make it or who are older. But a lot of childhood heroes are on the show such as The Hardy Boys and Kurt Angle. The show also has more homegrown stars such as Ethan Carter and Rockstar Spud who are very entertaining characters with fantastic wrestling abilities.
If you want to see crazy stunts mixed with crazier storylines, you need to check out Lucha Underground on El Rey Network every night at nine on El Rey Network. This isn’t really a wrestling show, but a show about wrestling. For example, this show is on it’s second season rather than being a weekly episodic program.
And these are some wacky characters from Mexico. There’s a dragon, a phoenix, a man who hunts his opponents as prey, and the current champion is Mil Muertes, aka The Man of a Thousand Deaths. In fact, Lucha Underground made history in its season two debut having female wrestler Ivelisse Valez become the first female wrestler in any major United States wrestling promotion fight for the major championship on television.
Some of your favorite childhood wrestlers have made pit stops in the temple as well, such as Johnny Nitro, now Johnny Mundo, and, debuting this season, Rey Mysterio. This promotion has some fantastic in ring action, but this show gives no doubt that it is about the story behind the matches.
Lastly, if you just want wrestling devoid of complex story arcs and insane characters but full of pure athleticism and, gasp, wrestling, you need to check out Ring of Honor wrestling. ROH has some of the best talent on the planet. In fact, some if not most of the current WWE roster have made stops in this promotion, such as AJ Styles, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn.
The current wrestlers are well known, as they have traveled all over the planet such as Jay Lethal and Charlotte’s own Cedric Alexander. And if you thing these are just a bunch of guys with no personality, you are wrong. There’s Caprice Coleman, an ordained minister who actually preaches at churches while traveling the country. The tag team War Machine, who basically look like what would happen if Vikings were pro wrestlers. And Dalton Castle, who’s…well in his own words, “a flamboyant peacock of style.”
With ROH, you’re going to get fantastic in ring ability where the focus is on the match and not just on the drama outside the ring. This one doesn't have a showtime, as it airs at different times on different networks on different days, but I do know it airs in the Gardner-Webb area on WMYT at 10:30 PM every Saturday night. However, ROH does offer an online streaming service of its weekly tv show for free online.
But if these do not appeal to you, WWE is still going strong. RAW airs every Monday at eight on USA Network and Smackdown airs every Thursday night at eight also on USA Network. Some of your favorite childhood wrestlers are still wrestling, such as Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, and in a blast to the past, the current WWE Champion is Triple H. There are also entertaining younger stars such as Kalisto, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Xavier Woods.
I’m not trying to force you to watch wrestling. But I hope that, if you have fully read this article, you would at least try it. Because wrestling is just like any other show, full of entertaining storylines, comedy, drama, characters, and heart pounding action. And if you don't want to fully enjoy wrestling, THEN WE GOT TWO WORDS FOR YA!
So next Monday night, sit back, relax, and enjoy the carnage.