Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Real Entertainers



Guest Blog, by David Vaz


The noise in the arena is deafening. The two athletes in the middle of the ring glare venomously at each other; their bodies battered, bloodied and bruised. Separating them is a steel ladder atop which a golden belt is suspended from a hook. Egged on by a sea of fans chanting their names, the men slowly ascend either side of the ladder, every step taking what seems like an eternity. They reach the top and both attempt to knock each other down, firing wild but tired blows at each other’s skulls, their will to go on seemingly fuelled by the strikes. Finally, the larger of the two knocks the other off the ladder and watches his torso fall to the bottom with a dull thud. The triumphant 7 footer, visibly exhausted, detaches the belt from the hook and raises his hands to the heavens as the crowd goes berserk.

It wasn’t long ago when such a spectacle was considered nothing short of barbaric by many. Widely acknowledged to be ‘fake’, professional wrestling is regarded as a childish activity not worth one’s time to watch and certainly not a form of entertainment. After all, who wants to see grown men in their underwear throw each other around and pretend to beat each other senseless. It’s much too violent. And let’s not forget the sexual themes that the women involved with the promotion partake in, not to leave out the mature language used? Certainly not appropriate for one’s child to watch and imbibe. It’d surely be a terrible influence and train their subconscious to become violent in nature.

It’s rather amusing that the same households that admonish against this have televisions which quite frequently air Jerry Springer, the Bold and the Beautiful, Mixed Martial Arts and 300 and their equivalents depending on the country of viewership. Apparently none of the above contains objectionable content and all provide for good, wholesome, family entertainment. People can be a real bunch of hypocrites can’t they? Yes we're talking about the same people that adore Tom Cruise, that worship Lady Gaga, that go bananas over Sunny Leone, that wait eagerly with eyes glued to the local news channel for some sort of verbal or physical confrontation in parliament just for a laugh or two.

Wrestling is so much more than that. Yes, matches are indeed scripted, blows artistically exaggerated, results known and dialogues, confrontations and moves rehearsed weeks in advance.  But then what is acting all about? We all know Gerard Butler doesn’t get impaled by a thousand spears, we all know the contestants on the ‘Bachelor’ know what they have to say during the show the previous night, we all know Ridge Forrester isn’t fortunate enough to be able to sleep with his sister, mother, daughter and grandmother, twice over the course of a week and we all know that apart from Jackie Chan, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single actor capable or willing to take a hit/fall. Wrestlers aren’t just actors, they’re their own stuntmen too. Each and every athlete puts his/her body on the line to get a chance to walk out to that ring and do what he/she does best. There are no cuts, no retakes, no alternate endings. What you see is what you get. Careers and even lives have ended in the ring but a wrestler’s heart will remain strong.

Professional wrestling, admittedly, during its 5 decade odd existence, has undergone several changes in terms of the nature of content delivered to its audience, most notably, during the 90’s, a decade where wrestling was synonymous with sex, drugs, foul language and rock and roll. But one thing has and always will remain the same. The Professionals involved, truly are, entertainers. And to the disbelievers, the doubters, the critics and the cynics; as the Rock, the self proclaimed most electrifying man in all of sports entertainment would say, “It doesn’t matter what you think!”

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