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Professional Wrestling is High Art, Change My Mind

Words by Narik Letap (he/they)


Whether it be oil splatters on a blank canvas, leaps and pirouettes on the stage, or lyrics crafted from the bedroom floor on a rainy day, art exists in various forms. If you are anything like myself—an avante-garde critic, a purely cultured individual, and a hedonist to the highest degree—seeking pleasure in all forms of art is simply a must. Unfortunately for us, the world of fine art has become increasingly overcrowded with AI, crude remakes, and content-pumping platforms that ridicule art’s sacredness. 

In the dire circumstances we find ourselves in, I am pleased to share my discovery of a new art form that will soon become renowned by historians; an art whose brilliance is comparable only to van Gough’s Starry Night or DreamWorks’ Shrek. 


Let me introduce you to the art of professional wrestling.


Firstly, I’m utterly appalled to find this art form regularly combats a plethora of cruel haters. My poor, delicate eyeballs have been regularly assaulted by discourse that completely disregards such an honoured profession of extensive merits. These uncultured swine not only claim it to be an embarrassment but frequently use the unthinkable ‘f’ word to describe it: fake! Can you even fathom such a claim? 


Perhaps you can. I wouldn't be surprised if even you, my sophisticated friend, regard the form as nothing more than half-naked buffoons pretending to hit one another in an inadvertently homoerotic fashion. 


In such cases, I see it as my duty as a highly-esteemed critic to explain why this is unmistakably out of touch. As a great man has surely proclaimed, what is one man’s half-naked buffoonery is another man’s gold…or, something to that effect.


I am certain you haters are protesting the notion that wrestling is an art. So, let me use the most trusted source, Wikipedia, to clear up this nonsense.Wrestling is  defined on Wikipedia as an “athletic form of theatre”, and therefore, is an art form. Its unique artistry of intensely physical ‘stunt work’, aided by melodramatics, can be traced back to its early 20th century carnival origins. Wrestling artisans believed playing characters and planning move sequences during matches would create a more entertaining narrative and draw in larger audiences. 


Wrestling is a credible art form based on numbers alone. It has successfully transitioned from small audiences of people and animals alike to regularly filling stadiums with upwards of 50,000 fans. The energy at a professional wrestling show is simply…

electric


Like any great narrative arc, the wrestling performers in a match will often take up roles within their personas: the ‘good guy’ versus the ‘’bad guy’. The ‘good guy’ must be a hero of the common man. The ‘bad guy’ will then behave as the most despised in the nation, Performers must expertly convince the audience of their mutual hatred using tools of persuasion such as scripted, back-and-forth verbal exchanges, video packages, and backstage brawls—à la the finest of reality television. These techniques may seem cliché, but when executed by top-class performers, they effectively make a wrestling match feel like:


You’re on a rollercoaster, strapped in tight, prepared for the culmination of a months-long feud between former tag team partners, best friends turned worst enemies. The first drop comes quickly. The good guy starts off, swinging wild punches in a fit of revenge and lingering confusion, the crowd erupting in cheer. Unfortunately, this manic flurry is short-lived. The bad guy has the upper hand. He slows down the pace, plays cruel mind games. The hero desperately fights back. The crowd rallies behind him.The rollercoaster rises to the top, the match climax awaits. The pace quickens, we descend towards the final act, the crowd grows frantic, the competitors trade vicious, muddled blows like they’re life depends on it. This potent desperation for vengeance disguises their mourning for the person they once called ‘brother’. Who will come out victorious? Can there truly be a winner in a tragedy like this? The story is ever so captivating.


Apologies, I got a bit carried away there.


While I have already proved the necessity of professional wrestling’s scripted elements, I can see you’re shaking your head at my depiction of the pure brutality that occurs inside the wrestling ring. Perhaps you have been privy to the certifiable evidence the performers are not actually trying to knock their opponent out. Or, perhaps you are under the impression its theatricality is suggestive of the stunts being performed within a protective, padded environment. 


Good sir, you’re mistaken. Think of the stiff canvas performers land on, the variety of steel chairs, tables, and kendo sticks used to inflict damage, and the frequent high-risk jumps performed. I can assure you these all hurt like a motherfucker. I can only assume the reason for haters to continually assert the unthinkable ‘f’ word at the profession with such disdain is because…perhaps…


The reality is too surreal to comprehend.


The physical pain may seem like the worst of it, but the mental pain bruises much deeper. Imagine being on the road for over 300 days a year, putting your body through hell in a new city every night, missing more family occasions and childrens’ birthdays than you get to attend.  What if you’re a woman and a wrestler having to fight tooth and fucking nail to get more than two minutes of television time each week to prove you have more to offer than just being a side act, and to combat a deeply misogynistic industry and fanbase on a daily basis? Why would you bother? Why would you put yourself, your friends, and your family through so much pain and heartache?


You do it because you love it. You do it for the roar of 100,000 fans as you go for the pin and they count “1,2, 3!” with you. You do it for the realisation you’ve somehow won the same championship you remember your childhood hero holding. Time stands still, the character slips away, and it’s just you. The fans that have been there for you, the real you, since the very beginning through your continuous reinventions and persona evolutions. The you that your family in the front row is losing their shit over. The tears in your mother’s eyes as you remember her driving you to shows in front of ten people, or watching you play-wrestle in the living room at 5 years old and saying you’re going to be a wrestler one day. You do it for moments like this. You do it because you love it too much to ever give it up.


My eyes have become damp with perspiration. At this present moment, I can only hope I have done everything in my power to convince you, on an objective basis, of the artistic merit and prestige attached to such a fine form, barring those few unfortunate interjections of the emotions of my personhood. However, for those still teetering on the edge of the fence as to whether you should consider professional wrestling an artform, my final argument is, oh fuck it, because it’s absolutely ^ridiculous! 


Professional wrestling may be all of those great things, yet it is undoubtedly one of the most messy, crass, absurdly stupid shitshows to ever exist. It has unbelievably offensive storylines and comedy gags that would make even the most thick-skinned of people gasp with horror. It’s got criminally bad dance battles, matches fought in evening gowns and a giant tub of pudding, and characters whose only personality trait is having deadly flatulence. There are asses being rubbed in faces and balls being tased because the crowd still goes crazy for this shit. It’s the travelling circus with Hot Mess Express permanently painted on its rear end. 


But that’s what makes it one of a kind.


Wrestling is the only form of entertainment that can make you shake your head in disbelief at the unintentional campiness of it all, and cry in awe at the pure magic you’ve just witnessed. At times it’s devoid of any logic yet so full of heart. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Might I end by saying this. If you can be thoroughly entertained by the likes of Love Island and Married at First Sight, I don’t believe that your standards for pleasure have anything left to lose. 

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