Pro Wrestling Is a Sport And Its Absence Will Hurt Us All—Part Two

James TriggsCorrespondent IJune 4, 2009

Jeremy Kaufman, a columnist here on Bleacher Report, brought up the issue of pro wrestling being here.  You can see it here.

This is the second part. If you haven’t done so already, reading the first part is highly recommended.


Nothing Is Certain in Pro Wrestling

"...we cannot allow any activity with a fixed conclusion into our athletic community."

Pro wrestling features displays of incredible athleticism. Any comprehensive athletic community is incomplete without pro wrestling being discussed.

In pro wrestling, things are planned, but nothing is fixed. Matches are mainly spontaneous as in most matches, not a lot is planned. On a regular show, nothing is planned until the last minute. The conclusion isn't fixed. That's why storylines and matches have to be changed due to contractual disputes, personal and health issues and continual changes of plans. 

I recall Kevin Dunn, Executive Director of the WWE, who once noted that he had no idea that Hogan was going to return at WrestleMania IX. In fact, he thought that idea was ludicrous and impossible. He was then a line producer. He has since become WWE Executive Vice President of Television Production, and since last year has been on the WWE Board of Directors.

Even at the time, he was about as inside of the promotion as you could get. It was his job to know what was going on and even he didn't know this. Only Hogan and Vince McMahon did, if I recall correctly.

Due to the continual changing of storylines and the unfortunate backstage politics (another form of competition) nothing is truly fixed until it happens. That's why pro wrestling news sites are often wrong. That's why even many people inside the companies don't know what is happening a lot of the time.

Yes, the outcomes are preplanned, but they are never definite. They are dynamic and constantly changing. The future is always in motion, which is why no matter how research you do you can get caught unaware by things in any sport from time to time. Not many people expected Rafael Nadal's recent loss at the French Open, including tennis experts.

Pro wrestling isn't so different to other sports in some areas, as it first appears.

More importantly, these outcomes are not known to the general public, at least until tapings, making a lot of the articles here very relevant as far as discussing what could or should happen goes.

Pro Wrestling Possesses the Qualities of a Sport in Droves. 

"Growing up, all of us who participated in athletics surely learned what playing a sport is all about: teamwork effort, selflessness, sportsmanship, fitness, and safety."

"...It certainly isn’t about teamwork, as teammates don’t bash each other over the head with a chair when they’re not looking so that they could steal his girlfriend."

The author has made understandable, though flawed arguments. Now, the arguments are not only flawed, but occasionally incomprehensible.

Indeed, my esteemed colleague has contradicted himself, having earlier said that, "Rather, they are simply trying to put on a good show for the crowd, essentially working together so that they both earn their paychecks at the end of the week."

Since when does working together not constitute teamwork?

Jeremy Kaufman seems to be confused between reality and what is seen on-screen. That is to be expected and is not something to be made fun of.

On screen, there is the illusion that they are foes. On-screen, most of them aren't—there are real-life rivalries and feuds, but these are in the minority. The very fact that they these wrestlers are in a feud onscreen proves that they are working together.

Furthermore, I feel quite sure that no one would try to argue that there is sportsmanship in professional wrestling, as they are more likely to pretend to strangle each other at the end of a match than shake hands."

I'm afraid my colleague will have to be disappointed.

"Sportsmanship expresses an aspiration or ethos that the activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one's competitors." This is a definition from Wikipedia.

Pro wrestling epitomises fairness, respect and a sense of fellowship.

Pro wrestlers put other wrestlers over, even if it hurts them, out of fairness to other wrestlers, sharing the spotlight. This doesn't always happen, but it happens a great deal. Most wrestlers accept losses gracefully for storyline purposes or to push other stars.

Pro wrestlers spend so much time together, away from the rest of their friends and family that in some promotions there is a huge sense of fellowship and family, more so than in any other sport. Even in independent promotions where the talent comes from local areas, this holds true.

Pro wrestlers bond through working together. They also come to respect each other for the most part and respect each other on a deep level. This doesn't happen all the time either, but that's human nature.

Pro Wrestling Means a Lot of Sacrifice and a Lot of effort.

"Professional wrestling certainly doesn’t promote selflessness, as each and every actor is in it for themselves and the paycheck that they receive at the end of the week."

Most pro wrestlers, apart from those in the major promotions, are paid a pittance. You are lucky if you get a few hundred and most of that is used up by travelling and food expenses.

With all the sacrifices pro wrestlers make, I wonder how pro wrestlers could be considered to be selfish. Yes, some are egotistical, but all pro wrestlers give part of their lives to the crowds.

To say that professional wrestling doesn't require effort is an affront to MMA artists and freestyle wrestlers, to gymnasts, to boxers, to weightlifters—to anyone involved in combat sports anywhere and everywhere.

Not to mention actors, writers, businesspeople, anyone in the military, working class families, philanthropists, celebrities, comedians, and anyone working long hours.

As the moves are real, there is physical exertion. How do you fake running? Can you kick or punch for 10 minutes without sweating? Don't forget to throw in some running around. Twenty minutes? Thirty minutes? Some matches have gone for hours. The principles of physics do not change to allow the argument that no effort is required.

To say otherwise demeans anyone who does anything similar.

Whilst steroids are a big problem in pro wrestling, there are plenty of people who haven't taken steroids. Generalisations are rarely true. That would be like judging all people in the Tour de France to be on steroids.

Acting is not as easy as you might think. It takes effort. Speaking in front of any crowd does. Pro wrestlers in the independent circuit are in charge of most of their material. In the major promotions they are given things to do but they have input. They partly determine what is going to happen in terms of matches and storylines. Writing isn't the easiest thing to do, either.

Pro wrestlers, in the independent circuit on otherwise, have to make business decisions regarding to work for, any appearances in terms of movies or television, etc. Though people help them, they still make the decisions. What happens in the ring depends on what happens outside the ring.

Most pro wrestlers, especially those in the major promotions, travel a lot. Right now it is easier—four or five days a week, as opposed to 26 or 27 days a month like it used to be in some promotions. Some promotions have easier schedules. Even so, in addition to this traveling, there is training, promotional appearances, and meetings.

For most pro wrestlers, the hardest thing for them is them not seeing their families for long periods of time, sometimes months. As any soldier would tell you, it takes a lot of effort to keep doing what you are doing in such a situation.

Pro wrestlers also have to contend with a lot of criticism. Not just about what they do in the ring, but about their career choice. At first, it takes effort to withstand it.


Most of the sporting community shuns pro wrestling, out of ignorance, and to continue a trend that started when the sport was first exposed as choreographed.

If Bleacher Report aims to be an effective source of sports journalism, it is best for all that pro wrestling remains. Yes, a high standard of writing should be adhered to, and the community may decide that members of this group may need to improve before writing here again, but pro wrestling is a strong part of sport.

Not only is it a sport in itself, it is a complex one with multitudes of elements from a variety of sources, which really serves only to give it more to analyze. There is more depth, more history.

There are a myriad of interesting connections to analyse when it comes to why it is enjoyable, its impact and continuing relationship with MMA, the cultural implications of pro wrestling and what the storylines actually mean, etc, like how we can analyse why basketball is enjoyable and the effect of a home ground.

Pro wrestling isn't just about statistics or psychology. It is where sport is clearly connected with many different parts of life. Pro wrestling is where sport so clearly interacts with other areas- hence why it is often confused to not be a sport. Not only is there much to analyse, but this analysis extends to aspects of sport in general that are much easier to see in pro wrestling.

Sport is part of people's lives, and pro wrestling is where other aspects of sport come to the surface. We see a more personal element. We see also a more artistic side to sport, similar to the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games. A person's favourite sporting moments can lead to big decisions in a person’s life or just as important, smaller decisions throughout a person's life.

That's why sports writers have written about triumph over adversity, people who have put in so much effort to get where they are. Sport benefits in more ways than we have yet explored. We have yet to explore the similarities between sport and religion in depth, for instance and how our favourite sporting teams can determine who we make friends with. That is also why we have the "Sports and Society" tag here.

The pro wrestling community on Bleacher Report has yet to truly delve beneath the surface, but other aspects of sport harder to explore in other sports have been explored to some extent. I recall an article by Andrea Claire on sexism and a series by Jev Thorpe on connections to psychology, mathematics and biology in particular.

Is it too inconvenient for Bleacher Report to explore different aspects of sport and thus life?


If you have any comments, etc., don't hold them back. If you have not yet been convinced as to the nature of pro wrestling, I can provide you with more information and other materials to watch.

If you still have opposing views, I welcome your arguments.

Thank you for reading.