I have been a die-hard sports fan for years. But contrary to one’s normal beliefs, growing up, my favorite sport wasn’t football, basketball, or baseball. My favorite sport in my early years was one that some argue is more of a soap opera than a sport; professional wrestling.
I grew up in what was known as the “Attitude Era,” where the Undertaker buried people alive, Austin 3:16 raised hell throughout the WWF, Degeneration-X had just two words for us, and we all smelled what the Rock was cookin’.
I’ve witnessed all of the crazy matches the industry came up with and been there for all of the unbelievable antics, pranks, and feuds that went on during this epic time period. But no matter how much I preach my passion for the sport, every time that people find out that I’m a professional wrestling junkie, I get the same response. “You know that stuff’s fake, right?
Are you serious? I thought these athletes shot up on every form of Human Growth Hormone possible actually hated each other so much, that the only way to prove who was superior was to fight in a squared circle with ample amounts of steel chairs, tables, and sledge hammers underneath the ring. I was certain that the only way to settle two men’s differences was to put them on a mat surrounded entirely by an enclosed cage, or as they call it in the wrestling business, a Hell in a Cell, and let them duke it out.
Of course I know professional wrestling isn’t real. I know that the winners of the matches are determined before the athletes are even announced. I know that every move is scripted and the entire match is rehearsed over and over again until it is near perfect. Sure, the punches are fake and when performed correctly, the moves don’t usually hurt. But what most people don’t know, is that the pretend world of professional wrestling is more real than you may think.
You couldn’t be a pro wrestler. I couldn’t be a pro wrestler. Very few people in this world have the athleticism, agility, size, and strength to be a professional wrestler. In fact, the World Wrestling Federation, now known as World Wrestling Entertainment, started a reality TV show which asked wrestling wannabes if they were Tough Enough.
Before watching this show for the first time in 2000, I was unaware of how real professional wrestling is. Millions of people tried out, and through several competitions, the creators selected around ten members to a house to pursue there dream in becoming a professional wrestler. And although the creators of the show thought that these guys and girls had what it took, nearly half of them dropped out within the first week. They soon realized that simply falling on the mat could result in sore backs, and performing moves incorrect could prove to break bones.
But even if you are coined the name professional, that doesn’t put an end to your troubles. These athletes go above and beyond there limitations, which sometimes prove to be fatal. At a WWF pay per view in 1999, Owen Hart was planned to descend from the ceiling to the ring. After a freak accident, he plummeted head first and hit the turnbuckle. He was pronounced dead only a few hours later.
Just a few months later, in a wrestling match that was rehearsed many times before, something went terribly wrong. The man known as D’Lo Brown slipped on a wet spot while trying to give his opponent Droz a powerbomb. Darren Drozdov fractured two disks in his neck and is currently paralyzed from the waist down.
Although these were two of the more severe wrestling incidents, these athletes are putting themselves at a risk for injury every time they enter the ring. In many cases, wrestlers are severely injured during a match, yet find the strength to continue and finish his work.
Wrestlers put there bodies on the line for the fans every night, and we need to appreciate that although the entire show is scripted, it is far from being fake. And although there is no bad blood between the athletes, the blood is actually real. The blood is self induced as the athletes use razor blades to cut themselves.
So you can call it acting. You can call it fake. You can call it pretend. You can call it whatever you want, but the truth of the matter is, the world of professional wrestling has never been more real.