Browse all

So why wrestling?

Some starting points to understand why wrestling deserves a chance

So why wrestling? Some starting points to understand why wrestling deserves a chance

Do you know Ronda Rousey, the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Hall of Famer of the first MMA federation in the world and heroine of the feminine community because of proud standard-bearer of the equal rights movement towards the women? If the answer is yes, during the last months you probably have heard of her new adventure in wrestling, because she has signed with the WWE, the most renowned wrestling company in the world. The news was beaten by the most important sporty newspapers from every country, and today I bring it back to you to introduce a new discipline never treated on nss: wrestling, precisely.

The early years and the golden era

In the USA, wrestling borns in the second half of the 20th century, although the real boom comes in the 60s. The merit is mostly of Bruno Sammartino, Abruzzese wrestler emigrated in the States to become a professional weightlifter and transformed in a wrestler by Vincent J. McMahon, the first to notice him for his sturdiness and decided to put him under contract to make him the World Heavyweight Champion of the WWWF, the actual WWE. For the record, Sammartino’s reign lasted 2803 days, because at that time the championships were defended few times. With Sammartino, came later the various Killer Kowalski, George “The Animal” Steele, The Iron Sheik, to the most famous Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior from the then renamed WWF’s Golden Age, in the 80s. However, immediately wrestling passionates everyone in the USA, so that entire arena was filled, as often happened with the Madison Square Garden, that is still today theatre of similar events. For obvious reasons, not all federations had a television contract, although they could record the sold out in every case. The so-called “independent wrestling”, that we will mention too later, isn’t dead, and it’s still offering a respectable product that can be a right alternative to what WWE proposes.


The sports-entertainment, as I said, fills from decades arenas around the world, and not just them. The cinemas are often able to record the sold out with wrestling films, like the amazing The Wrestler, with an awesome Mikey Rourke. We can’t also forget some particular documentaries, like Beyond The Mat, that unveils lots of backgrounds and obviously helps understand the dynamics of this discipline. Historically, wrestling has been successful in Italy, starting from the 80s to the half of the 2000s, when SmackDown!, a secondary show of the already cited WWE, was transmitted on Mediaset channels, entertaining every week millions of people, mostly teenagers that for many years have been attached to the televisions to watch the moves of the deceased Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and the world famous Undertaker. The boom in those years was so powerful that the WWE itself came in Italy to record a Monday Night RAW episode in Milan, a historical weekly show of the company, privileging us of an opportunity that, at the moment, is granted only at England. Then, however, after the Benoit case, seems almost that the magic was interrupted and wrestling was marked as “fake”, unworthy of a possibility. Today I’m going to explain to you why this discipline, despite the apparent fiction that will accompany us throughout the article, deserves an occasion.


What's wrestling and what's not

First of all, wrestling isn’t properly fake but predetermined. Wrestlers know how their matches end and they hit each other in the most realistic and less hard way possible, always considering the constant training that prepares them to suffer at their best the moves. The objective isn't to generate a competition between wrestlers (like for boxing) but take on a story, just because the results of the matches are already decided. This is sport-entertainment. What has to attract our attention is the beauty of the moves, watching which one is harder than the other, not their veracity.


What I love of the discipline is precisely the entertaining component, the “fake”, you know, that it bases on the contrast between the face (good) and heel (bad), in addition to border figures, know as a tweener. The word “entertainment” sums up the concept. The entertaining of wrestling, over the fight, is the part of the spoken, of the recounted, of the lived. What is a match born from? It borns from a feud between two or more wrestlers, a storyline where is recounted a motive to result in a match. The skills of a wrestler in this range, sometimes, can really make the fortune of him. Moreover, a wrestler has to be able of applies this theatricality in the matches, just to give realism at all. An example? John Cena vs AJ Styles of SummerSlam 2016. Through the use of manoeuvres of a high rate of spectacularity, the two recount a story where the face of the extra-WWE wrestling challenges the undisputed face of the WWE.


For example, let’s take the already cited The Undertaker, that for his entire career has kept intact the kayfabe, the slimline that separates what is real from what is not with the sole purpose to result from more real as it possible. It is also thanks to this commitment that he is remembered as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, one of the few to remain faithful at his own character, the undertaker, until the end of his career. The character, just like the ability to be able to interpret it, is very important for a wrestler, because is a discipline based on the first impact. A muscular and tall wrestler,  although less good than a colleague less muscular and short, par excellence will always be more amazing. So, it’s in this that consists of this “game”: the impression. Despite during the years this protagonist of the scenic presence of a wrestler has been gradually reduced, the measures still count today. For example, if you giant of 2 meters and 150 kilos of muscles knock at the door of the WWE, that is one of the last federations in the world that continues to retain important the dimensions, you can be sure that will have more possibilities to have success compared to a wrestler tall only 175 centimeters and weighing 110 kilos. After all, we’re talking about wrestling.


By the way, dimensions and muscles aren’t the only that baste a character on a wrestler. What else contributes? The costumes, formerly now as attires. How not to look at Bray Wyatt's crazy clothes? The Eater of Worlds is known for his characteristics vests matched with neglected jackets or, like a time, Hawaiian shirts, which certainly doesn’t make us look at Bray like a passing tourist, with his hat, the patched pants, the snake leather shoes and a lantern in the hand. Another factor that influences can be the hair and the beard. Famous the case of the already mentioned Hulk Hogan, that, after the clamorous passage between the bad in 1996, decided to grow up an unkempt dark beard as the background for his renowned golden mustaches. The ideology of the heel “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan has become iconic and is still today a cliché in the world of wrestling.
In the end, we can’t forget the taunts, the classical moves and insults of the wrestler, with the purpose of incite the fans, to provocate a reaction, like the taunt of the “cutthroats” of Undertaker himself, that often precedes the finishers of the wrestlers, the final moves that differentiate a character from another, as in the case of the legendary Tombstone Piledriver of the “Deadman”.


Not just WWE

Wrestling is good because is various. Having Internet with us, we can explore the wrestling styles more diverse, from the acrobatic and reckless Mexican Lucha Libre, to the independent wrestling from every country, to the characteristic Japanese Puroresu, promoter of the hardest wrestling in the world, without to forget the importance of the storytelling, the already cited ability of know how to recount a rivalry during the match. At this example, take inspiration two of the greatest matches of all time. The first has as protagonists, in 2003, two immortals of the discipline: Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi. The match is a masterpiece, for some people the best ever.


The second one sees involved Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 11. The match is an incredible combination of storytelling and fight so beautiful to deserve a Six Stars rating by the influential wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer. Precisely for this reason, the match has been talked for weeks.

So, why wrestling deserves a chance? Because it’s not the simple fake sport that we believe it is but a different discipline able to take advantage of its peculiarities, its being entertainment. Every type of fight can really leave something to us. Wrestling, today more than ever, deserves certainly an opportunity.