By Ethan Harmon
Yeah, that statement isn’t going to fly with a lot of people initially, but just hear me out for a moment… or however long it takes for you to read this article.
Wrestling is a phenomenal, perpetual, engrossing adventure, when the story hits the right beats. And, more often than not, a lot of these characters interact and battle within a well-written, engaging narrative. Wrestling is fun and, because the days of the Attitude Era are behind us, these events can be viewed by all ages. So, instead of watching your life and time burn away in front of you as you binge another season of whatever awful reality show you enjoy, invest in something spectacular. Watch wrestling.
As a kid, I, along with dozens of other kids roaming the playground of my elementary school, would talk about wrestling with inspiration in our eyes and joy in our voices. We would shout the finishing moves of our favorite character and try – and fail – to recreate the epic brawls that flashed before us the previous night.
As I hit my teenage years, the bouts of Stone Cold and the Rock – complete with beer, shooting the bird, and smelling what was cooking – were gone, as wrestling began to become more about the technical aspects in the right, as well as developing character. Not to say that the Attitude Era didn’t involve technical prowess, but it focused on the fantastical, larger-than-life stories and characters.
The wrestlers of my teens were filled with character and brought an extra destructive edge to the ring. Eddie Guerrero and company were dominating the squared-circle, and at the time, it was unparalleled to everything else on the small screen.
During my late teens and into my early 20s, I did not keep up with WWE or TNA. It was not because I was bored with it or went with the “it’s not real” excuse. I was just preoccupied with writing and school, so my focus always was elsewhere. However, at 24 years old, one of my good friends had me visit his new home, take a seat on a very comfortable leather couch, and watch the latest PPV with him. Immediately, I was sucked back in. What I saw was similar to the wrestling I experienced during my childhood and early teens, but there also was something different about the way it was approached.
The men and women walking into the ring still carried a larger-than-life persona, but a lot of time was now spent showing why these people were respected and feared in the ring. Extended promotions showcasing character development and exposition were now common. Gimmick-type matches were reserved primarily for PPV events, which made two men jumping off ladders and performing flying-elbow drops that much more special.
The wrestling itself was significantly better than what I remembered, at least on a technical level. These men and women were literally putting their bodies on the line as they leaped through the ropes for a suicide dive and delivered tornado DDTs. More focus was poured into not only making these in-ring gods walk around with a big stick, but know how to use it properly.
And, just to be clear, the “it’s not real” excuse is not a valid reason to avoid a solid block of wrestling. The garbage reality shows that fill airwaves are all written and acted (the drama is made up). Most movies and TV shows are not real accounts of actual events. WWE, TNA, ROH, and all the other branches of wrestling do not show physical brawls. Instead, they show spectacle. They give a physical performance and add story to make it unique. Wrestling is about entertainment. Fans turn on Monday Night Raw for the same reason they turn on Netflix and watch Daredevil: entertainment, story, fun, drama.
Look, stop making this weird for yourself. In the same way that you still secretly like superheroes, you will still enjoy wrestling. Turn it on and watch. See Kevin Owens nail John Cena with a pop-up powerbomb. Cheer as Sasha Banks contorts Dana Brooke’s body with a submission hold. And get on your feet and yell with excitement as Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins throw down atop a gigantic ladder. Sure, these are not real fights, but wrestling provides fun, entertaining spectacle and story that is not found anywhere else. So tune in before Austin 3:16 whoops your ass!