When non-wrestling fans question your love for the sport, or sports entertainment, you know what question is coming.
You like wrestling? But isn’t it fake?
No. It’s not fake.
Just like any other television show or sitcom, wrestling shows and events are almost always scripted.
What makes professional wrestling unique is that it combines storyline with action. Some people like wrestling for the storyline, some like it for the action, and then there are those who love it because it has both. So what kind of fan are you?
Was there always a storyline in professional wrestling? Well, many wrestlers would argue that they always tell a story in the ring. However, traditional storylines became a larger aspect of the show as time went on. Characters give promos talking about how great they are and how terrible their opponent is.
When wrestling fans discuss the Attitude Era vs. the PG Era, which is obviously a hot topic, they are focusing on the storyline. The Montreal Screwjob, the Monday Night Wars and D-Generation X involved action and wrestling, but it was the storyline that makes them stand out.
Vince McMahon calling for the bell was part of a plan for the story of the WWE Championship. D-Generation X would perform controversial acts such as mocking other superstars or destroying Vince McMahon’s property. It was all for the story.
If you think about WWE today, the AJ-John Cena affair storyline is just that. It has very little to nothing to do with action and wrestling. The affair is about a story. It is about AJ Lee being removed as the authority figure because of a story.
This storyline will most definitely lead to a match of some sort involving John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Therefore, storylines are clearly used as way to set up and promote action. Storylines are necessary to make the buildup to the action intriguing and enticing to the fans and audience members.
But is there a storyline without action?
When people think of wrestling, most often they think of the act of wrestling. After all, "wrestle" is a verb. It is an action word. So it makes sense for people to question the action of professional wrestling.
Those moves are fake, right? Wrong. You can’t pretend to fall on a table. You can’t pretend to fall on thumbtacks. You can’t pretend to fall off a 16-foot cage and land on a table. Okay, enough talking about Mick Foley.
The point here is that just like with storyline, the action is scripted as well. More so now, WWE, in particular, plan out every move and action that will occur during a match. However, it is up to the wrestlers to make it look good.
It would be much more entertaining to see Kofi Kingston perform a high-flying move from the top rope than if it was The Big Show. Wrestling fans care about the action. They care about the moves that the wrestlers perform. There are a number of articles discussing the best and worst finishing moves of wrestlers. The action throughout a wrestling match does tell a story, but in a different way than a storyline.
Do wrestling fans often talk about how great a storyline was? Sure. But more often than not, wrestling fans are talking about some of the best matches they have ever seen.
What makes these matches the best? Action! Action, action, action. The high-flying moves, the submission holds, the grappling moves, etc…all make the action part of professional wrestling interesting and entertaining.
Conclusion: Decision Time
Now that we have discussed both storyline and action individually, it is time to assess. Although the best argument would be storyline and action are equally important to professional wrestling, more likely than not, one of them reeled you into watching it more than the other.
Personally, I will admit that it was the storyline that reeled me in. It wasn’t the move set or action that made me want to watch more. It was the characters. It was the promos.
You can be a great wrestler but a terrible character. For example, John Morrison is an incredible athlete and wrestler. However, his poor mic skills prevented him from ever becoming a great character.
The same can be said about great-speaking characters who are not great wrestlers (cough, John Cena, cough). Just kidding. Maybe. If you are not a good athlete or wrestler, there are other roles in professional wrestling that would be a better fit. This is probably why I would always prefer to be a commentator or announcer over a wrestler.
So here we are. Time for you to make a decision. Are you a storyline fan? Are you an action fan? Is it just too difficult for you to pick just one? Let me know what you think and what kind of fan you are in the comment section below.
It’s been me. It’s been me. It’s been the G-U-DOUBLE T!
Seth Guttenplan is a teacher by day, writer by night. In addition to being a Bleacher Report writer, Seth is the owner for GuTTWrenchPowerBlog.com, Monday Night Raw reviewer for CamelClutchBlog.com and a host for ProWrestlingPowerhouse.com Radio. To read more from Seth, follow him on Twitter (@sethgutt) and visit http://guttwrenchpowerblog.com