Wrestling: Sport or soap opera?

So, there’s this episode of South Park (stay with me now) where the main characters try their hands at wrestling. The brand of wrestling the boys take on is one of drama, story lines, and little-to-none actual wrestling. It involved all sorts of convoluted plots and cheesy stories about girlfriend-stealing, revenge and the like. There was even this gentleman (his name escapes me) who was frustrated with this format. He harked back to the days of “wrastling”, the type of wrestling you see in high schools and colleges – jock straps and all.

Part of me sympathizes with him. Maybe there’s this traditional appeal to what some consider as being “classic wrestling”. Maybe, just maybe, we’re being fooled into believing that this is an actual sport and not a barrage of bad acting and chair-tossing. Maybe.

Perhaps, none of us care. And, heck, maybe nobody should. Here’s the thing about sports that survive – they all have entertainment value. For the old school among us, let’s go ahead and give some appreciation to what a sport really is. Ray Lewis called football a sport of “gladiators.” Magic Johnson considered basketball to be “an art form.” That is what a sport is. It’s a fusion of battle and beauty, anarchy and art, chaos and creativity. It’s the personification of the peak of the human condition. Now, take your pretty little definition and sit down. Wrestling is on.

Wrestling provides a satisfaction to its fans (who are not few, I assure you) in that it is both a sport (technically) and a captivating story. Consider this: log on to ESPN’s site right now and read any headline or preview of whatever sporting event there is. The Heat vs. the Lakers is, “The King vs. The Black Mamba.” The Master’s is something about Tiger winning his third billionth tournament or something. The point here is that even marketers and producers get it – we all like sports, but we LOVE a good story. That is what wrestling is. It’s a good, old fashioned drama, centered around scantly clad dudes and pectorals the size of car tires.

I mean, technically speaking, these guys are athletes. They do jump. There’s no ball involved, but there is an arena. And honestly, what more do we really want on television than a gathering of juiced up drama queens? Throw in the chairs, perhaps a cage, and let’s wrestle.

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