The Phenomenon Of Professional Wrestling Mick Foley was standing 15 feet above the floor of the arena, atop a cell made of chain-link fence material with his partner, Mark Calloway. Foley gave the ready cue, took a deep breath hurled himself over the edge of the structure. He aimed for the annoucers' table that would break his fall. His heart rate began to decrease with relief as jaws dropped across America. Thousands of fans in attendence and millions watching worldwide on pay-per-view are shocked beyond belief, for they had just seen The Undertaker throw Mankind head first off the cell in the historic match last year. Professional wrestling is often criticized and looked down upon for being "fake." While the storylines have been planned and the matches are fixed, the overall production is a spectacular display. Much effort is invested in keeping the characters fresh week after week, coming up with interesting storylines, and planning outcomes for the matches.
Then, of course, there are the matches themselves. Just because they're fixed doesn't mean you know who is going to win. The atheletes sacrifice their bodies to all kinds of punishment for the fans. Professional wrestling is completely unlike any other form of entertainment on television.
Professional wrestling is a television production and a touring live show consisting mostly of fixed matches and interview-like segments. These are used to build angles and feuds among the performers. Storylines may last several weeks or months before they play themselves out. The writers, known within the industry as bookers, are constantly in a think tank to come up with new ideas and gimmicks. The performers play characters who may be normal atheletes on a quest for the championship or bizarre gimmick characters who look like cartoon characters in their outlandish outfits. The matches produce the image of hatred-driven characters fighting while the performers are working together to give the fans a great match. More likely than not, the good guy will lose (as this builds up the feud more).
Detractors of professional wrestling usually misunderstand the purpose. When asked why a person doesn't enjoy watching wrestling, the most common answer is: "because it's fake." Of course, about 90% of everything on television is "fake," so why is it so wrong for professional wrestling to be fixed? It isn't wrong at all, but it does have the look of a real sporting event (arena setting, thousands of fans) that may throw people off, as if it's trying to look "real." This insults the intelligence of the would-be fan, and he or she is no longer interested. On the contrary, professional wrestling does not attempt to look "real" at all. Everything is admittedly scripted. The air on that subject must be clear for the would-be fan to join the bandwagon without having his intelligence compromised.
Wrestling is entertaining because of a number of reasons. First, it has a certain overtone that makes it funny or interesting to reminisce upon. Also, there are never reruns. All year round, you'll see new misadventures on a weekly basis. Something about wrestling is perfect for a get-together with one's friends. Personally, I watch it religiously and have a small "monday night group." Professional wrestling is quite simply not art. It's not very deep, either; but there's a certain appeal in seeing large men and women pummel each other senseless, followed by subtle dirty jokes and an opportunity to cheer for the main-event hero.
The entertainment phenomenon of professional wrestling is very unique, and difficult to explain. In a way, it's the epitome of entertainment, offering controversy, sex, violence, and sophomoric humor in a neat little package on a weekly basis. I would recommend tuning in from time to time, as it is an easygoing form of entertainment that can be fun to follow.