Pro Wrestling: The Stigma of Being a Fan

Craig Holland-GreenfieldContributor IIApril 18, 2011

The idea for this came about when Ryan Frye wrote a great article about finding out that wrestling is fake, and the repercussions of his discovery. So credit to Ryan for inadvertently giving me the idea.

Since the dawn of the Internet, it became widely known that wrestling was fake, and since then it has been looked down upon with disdain by non-fans.

Having been a fan of the WWE since I was in comprehensive school (high school for everyone else), any time mention has been made of my love for the “sport” has been met with strange looks and stifled laughter.

Which is unfortunate as the chance to interact with other adults who enjoy wrestling as I do, will rarely come as I have learnt not to tell people.

In effect, it’s like having an embarrassing condition that you don’t want anyone to know about in case they make fun of you. A fine example is in the movie Shallow Hal. In the movie, the main character's friend has a tail, and rather than risk embarrassment by letting people know him and find out his “devastating” secret, he chooses to be a cocky arsehole to push people away.

Out of all the friends I have had over the years, acquaintances I’ve made and colleagues I’ve had in my various jobs, I believe only two of them actually likes wrestling like I do. I don’t think I even know one person who likes it a little bit, let alone enough to talk about.

You seem to either grow out of wrestling or hide in fear of rejection from your peers.

Even on this site, I was made fun of for being a wrestling fan. I casually posted in the football (soccer) section and was told to stick to wrestling and grow up.

I’m sorry, but since when was wrestling just for kids?

I know WWE, and possibly TNA, has a lot of children attending their shows but the majority of people are adults without children by them. This goes to show that it’s not mainly for kids and most fans are well past kidulthood.

Now we all like a variety of different shows, and unless you watch the news all the time, you will watch a show that is unreal and very possibly could never be real. The same people who make fun of wrestling are the same people who will gladly watch a man fly, demons slain and wizards cast, yet still have a go at wrestling for being fake.

Back in the day before the Internet, I imagine fans had a much easier time due to many people still thinking it was real.

The storylines may be fake, the superstars brutally battling it out in the ring may be best friends backstage and the results are obviously known about beforehand. Does that make it any different from the shows you watch and get emotionally invested in? No, it sure as hell doesn’t.

The difference being, in your shows the actors are almost guaranteed to be safe. Whereas in wrestling, one slip can lead to a broken back, neck or even a leg.

The men and women who wrestle and train every day; they eat the right foods and try not to falter, they are massively devoted to their craft and put more time and effort into it than most people will put into anything in an entire lifetime.

We watch wrestling for the same reason as we watch a lot of other “fake” shows: because they entertain us. If we cared about real fighting, we would watch real fighting.

You tell me you like Justin Bieber, Supernatural or Big Brother, yet you look down on me for liking wrestling?

I’m sorry but how does my personal taste make me a different human being to you or your friends?

It doesn’t, but unfortunately a lot of people who don’t watch wrestling see it as something to be scorned at.

If there were a way to change public perception of wrestling, and it didn’t compromise the values and belief of the business, then I wish it could be done.

Until that day comes, then we will all be chained to our desks and love wrestling in silence. The only consolation being that we know where like-minded individuals go and can at least speak about our love in a place where our opinions matter, without being bashed for it.

If anyone reading this has a wrestling t-shirt, wear it outside tomorrow with pride knowing you’re better than those who judge on our taste. Stand tall and live free!

Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed reading this.