A love letter to wrestling
Do you hear that? It's the scream of thousands of people screaming "WRESTLING IS FAKE!" and "IT'S NOT A REAL SPORT BECAUSE THE OUTCOMES ARE PREDETERMINED."
It's completely fine to have an opinion, and it's true that the outcome of wrestling matches are predetermined by the "booker" for a promotion. But the one thing wrestling is not, is fake.
Wrestling is about the stories it tells using the characters it has, who are usually portrayed by wrestlers and on-screen talent. These stories are told through the "promo" — talking segments where a wrestler is either backstage or in the ring with a mic — and partially through the match.
The real beauty of wrestling is that there's a little something for everyone. Because the characters themselves portray the human condition. From the struggling wrestler looking for their big break, to the arrogant and powerful; champion who has no respect for his challengers.
Think about when "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, a blue collar man who is somewhat on the heavier side and does not resemble the "ideal" image of an athlete, reaches his hand out to the camera and tells the people that he wants to win this title for the people.
"Hard times are when the textile workers around this country are out of work and got four, five kids, and can't pay their wages, can't buy their food… And hard times are when a man has worked at a job thirty years — thirty years! — they give him a watch, kick him in the butt and say 'Hey, a computer took your place, daddy!' That's hard times!"
This promo gives me goosebumps every time. Most of all because while Dusty is the representation of the blue-collar man, his opponent, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, is the arrogant, upper-class evil champion.
It's good versus evil. It's rich versus the regular. Sometimes reality seeps into storylines, with the history between wrestlers, whether friends or rivals, make for some of the best wrestling.
During CM Punk's infamous 2011 "pipe bomb" promo, he weaved his real life grievances with the company into the promo. That is why people back then believed it. He was airing out WWE's dirty laundry, and he genuinely hated those aspects of the company. That's why the fans got behind him so wholeheartedly.
Finally, it's the fans who are the other part of the entire storytelling process. What they chant and how they react become a part of the story. Fans chanting "Yes!" incessantly till WWE was forced to put Daniel Bryan into the main event of Wrestlemania is one of the reasons why we got one of the best underdog stories of all time. Fans chanting "CM Punk!" at shows whenever they were unhappy with the stories being told is one of the reasons he came out of his hiatus and into AEW, because he heard the fans.
At the end of the day, wrestling is more akin to theatre, with the audience's reactions fuelling how successful a play will be. And that is exactly why wrestling is awesome.
Aaqib is struggling to write his book and with life in general. Please motivate him at firstname.lastname@example.org