Roman Reigns beat John Cana in a “passing of the torch” match
O WWE Fans all over the world have always asked this question – Is WWE Fake? Read on to know more about the answer to the question.
“Is WWE fake?” is a question that we’ve all asked each other and our friends multiple times when we were younger. It would often be a topic of debate, but despite it all, we would still end up watching it anyway. But to answer the question “is WWE real or fake?” is not as simple and straightforward an answer as you might expect.
WWE brands itself as “sports entertainment” and not pro-wrestling. The reason for this is because in the 1990s, to get more levy and pay fewer taxes, Vince McMahon admitted to the Supreme Court that WWE (then called WWF) is not a real sport, but simply a form of entertainment. And to his and the company’s credit, it worked. The term “sports entertainment has defined the company through several different eras and decades, up until the current PG era.
Is WWE real, though? The fact of the matter is that the competitive matches and fights between superstars are not real, as the matches have pre-determined outcomes. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s an athletic form of entertainment, and that all superstars train like athletes.
WWE (and pro wrestling in general) comprises of superstars portraying fictional characters on television with scripted rivalries and subsequently, scripted matches. However, that hasn’t stopped WWE from blurring the lines between fiction and reality.
So, wrestling. You mean the Olympic stuff?
No, not the Greco-Roman wrestling you might have seen at the Olympics or in Fox catcher, where wrestlers try and pin each other to the mat.
I mean the other kind of wrestling.
You’re getting closer, but no. The UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, is a mixed martial arts competition that features people beating the snot out of each other using whatever fighting style they like.
Today’s wrestling was borne out of “catch wrestling”, a combat sport combining elements of Greco-Roman and European grappling.
Promoters realized that they could make more money if they started rigging elements of the competition to create stars and build anticipation for matches.
So you’re saying pro wrestling is fake?
No, I’m saying it’s scripted.
But wrestling did spend 100 years pouring energy into extending the illusion of legitimate competition beyond the fourth wall, to the point that rivals were forbidden from travelling together between shows.
This made it super awkward when mortal enemies Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the Iron Sheik were arrested while travelling in the same car in 1987. (They were arrested for drug possession, not for breaking “kayfabe”.)
Hulk Hogan is considered by many as the greatest professional wrestler. (Flickr.Com: Tom Simpson)
Kaibab refers to the web of illusion that disguises the contrived elements of wrestling.
Giving away results, publicly appearing out of character or writing articles like this, spoils that illusion and reveals the inner workings of wrestling to outsiders — or breaking kayfabe.
Why the big illusion?
The original idea was that punters would be more inclined to buy tickets and emotionally invest in the wrestlers if they thought the competition was real.
Rigging matches and constructing storylines raises the stakes — but the more you mess with the legitimacy of the competition, the harder it becomes to maintain the illusion of that legitimacy.
Turns out it’s a slippery slope from two wrestlers grappling in a believably competitive way until one deliberately takes a dive, to two wrestlers fighting over a magical funeral urn with one wrestler burying the other alive in a giant pile of dirt and then that dirt being struck by lightning to bring that wrestler back to life. (This actually happened.)
Wrestling struggles to overcome the stigma of its sporting pretense. (Supplied: Cory Lockwood Photography)
As the characters and storylines became more outlandish, the pretense to legitimacy was abandoned and today, the world’s biggest wrestling promotion — the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) — has openly admitted that its wrestlers are performers engaging in storylines.
But the deception dies hard and wrestling struggles to overcome the stigma of its sporting pretense and be accepted for its theatrical reality.
So it is fake?
“Fake” is the wrong word. You don’t call Wuthering Heights or Star Wars “fake”, you call it fiction.
Also, while the events in wrestling are staged, the physicality is real. Like stunt performers, wrestlers execute feats of athleticism, fly, and collide with each other and the floor— all while staying in character.
Unlike stunt performers, wrestlers perform these staged contests in one take, before a live audience. The ultimate theatre in the round, great wrestling is part complex choreography and part improvisation — with wrestlers feeding off each other and the crowd to create a unique work of art.
Still, you know how to fall, so it doesn’t hurt?
It all hurts. Everything we do is designed to minimize damage, but it’s inevitable.
A dentist knows how to drill but that doesn’t mean drilling’s not both painful and risky. Likewise, we know how to hit each other and crash to the mat as safely as possible but things can still go wrong.
Even when things go right, studies reveal the physical consequences of a match to be comparable to being in a small car accident.
Why would anyone want to do this? Why would I want to watch?
Because pro wrestling is a century-old art form deftly fusing ancient performance techniques with modern pop-culture sensibilities, capturing an audience with drama, intrigue, comedy and violence, bundling the whole thing together in a sporting context.