You know wrestling? Steel chairs and spandex? Had to rename themselves to WWE after a court case with a wildlife charity? Wrestling. I will now attempt to read your mind: the first thing you think about while trying to criticise wrestling is that it’s fake. If you’re the particularly condescending type, you probably would instead say “You do know it’s fake, don’t you?” Yes, yes I do.
Just for the record, I don’t watch wrestling, or take any interest in it. I probably haven’t done so for over 10 years. But that is more to do with the fact that I’m a busy guy, and I don’t feel like paying for Sky TV. If I did have Sky, and nothing to do on a Saturday morning, who knows? But whatever. The reason I don’t watch it is nothing to do with its fakery.
Of course we all know it is fake. Everybody knows that. I don’t really see why that is seen as a criticism? Star Wars is fake, as is Coronation Street and Made in Chelsea. Yup, if you think about it even for a brief second, you will realise that Made in Chelsea is obviously fake, and this will become more and more obvious the longer you think about it. Seriously, you think that they just mic-ed up a load of posh people and follow them around with multiple cameras, hoping that something would happen (which, I am led to believe is the premise of the show)? What were the odds that this strategy would end up with a watchable TV show?
Anyway, back on course, what is wrong with a TV show that isn’t real (and never really purports to be, if you’re being totally honest with yourself)? Most TV is escapism – our lives aren’t filled with drama, which is probably a good thing, but we still like to have the chance to imagine a life lived at 90mph. More importantly, who watches a show where a man knocks his opponent unconscious with a trash can lid, before pile-driving him into a concrete floor covered in drawing pins, and then seals his body in a coffin and buries it in the local cemetery (I have no idea, but that story sounds plenty plausible), and thinks “Yeah, but wouldn’t it be better if it were real?” Really? Would it be better for Saturday morning TV to be devoted to actual attempted murder, in a room with 20,000 teenagers presumably complicit in the act, while another million teenagers (it’s always teenagers) watch the action unfold in their living rooms? That would be better? As far as I can tell, it’s much more normal to watch a film about a serial killer than watch an actual serial killer going about his business.
By the way, I get that it still hurts. I get that those guys get injuries and scars. But so do stunt men and rugby players. The point is, they get hurt by accident (or at a level they have deemed acceptable) while providing entertainment. The injuries are a risk in all of the above, but it isn’t the intention to cause damage to the other wrestler.
And that, neatly enough, is why I hate boxing. Fuck boxing, and fuck MMA, and any other fucking sport where the intention is to put the other guy in hospital. We (rightly) go on about how barbaric it is to watch bullfighting or go fox-hunting, but it’s ok if it’s a human being on the line? Why? I’m sure he signed a waiver or something, but that really isn’t the point. I don’t understand how you can mock a fake fight but get excited by watching 2 people actually beat the crap out of each other. I don’t think I’m exaggerating here. The purpose in boxing (and other “sports” of this nature) is to knock your opponent unconscious. You can win without the KO, but it goes down in your stats as a lesser win. The goal is to leave your opponent in a state where he belongs in a hospital. MMA is even worse, because once your opponent is on the floor with blood coming out of his ears, you are still entitled to pummel his head into the mat until the referee wrestles you off the poor guy (this I have gathered from watching half of one fight).
Please don’t tell me that it isn’t about watching blood be spilt (or brains being damaged). There are plenty of sporting variations where a fight is staged in such a way that the rules or equipment (or both) are in place to prevent the likelihood of serious injury. Take fencing as an example. People waving swords around at each other should be lethal, but as far as I know, getting a poke in the eye would be considered a tragic accident. Same with Olympic boxing. Headguards and short fight times mean that there is a pretty slim chance of landing a devastating blow, and the competitors are all amateurs, which at least means that they aren’t gambling their health for a big payoff (yet). I am mostly fine with these variations, but don’t tell me that the heavyweight, pay-per-view multi-million dollar boxing event is all about you marvelling at someone’s footwork or technique. It is about watching two people beat each other to a pulp, and to early onset Alzheimer’s.
And by the way, I was recently told that the boxing gloves worn in the ring are indeed a form of safety equipment. But, unlike I had assumed, they are actually there to protect the fighters hands, not their opponents head. Apparently, you can really hurt yourself repeatedly punching a guy in the face, so much so that you need some protective equipment in order to do so. That is so wondrously, enduringly idiotic that I’m not even going to finish this blog properly. I’m just going to cut it here, and let you think about this last point and what it means.