Welcome to the new Wrestling Wing here on Aggy.Net. This is where all the wrestling related content goes. (Well except for the Violet Flame tribute page, you have already seen that haven't you? Go, now, we'll wait for you).
Some of those reading this are already wrestling fans, some may even be wrestlers themselves, but many are not. (Yeah right, there are 'many' people reading this!). With apologies to those 'in the know' this first column is a kind of beginners guide to the sport-entertainment of wrestling.
If I had a pound for every person who asked me - 'You know its fake don't you?' - I'd have £23.50 (and to the person who gave me that foreign coin instead of a 50p I know who you are, you'll get yours). So here is some background to Professional wrestling.
1) Is it fake?
There's only one honest answer to that question. Yes wrestling is fake. There I've said it, I hope your happy, some very large people are coming to beat me up now. Yes the winner is predetermined. But before the mid-1990's you would of had a hard time admitting it. But these days that has changed. In future columns I'll cover why that changed, I'll also give reasons why I believe that wrestling suffered because of the 'big secret' and why it continues to suffer to this day, even though the secrets out.
2) OK its fake, so none of its real then?
Anytime you have two people moving at high speed, throwing punches, dropping people on the heads on concrete floors, throwing them through tables or cracking them over the head with a chair you have a whole lot of real. Wrestlers receive and perform with injuries that would keep high paid legitimate sports superstars on the sidelines for months.
Even some well known superstars do not earn huge amounts of money. ' And ' wrestlers can earn very little per match. Careers are short. Bodies break down from constant abuse. Life on the road brings it own problems, there have been many careers cut too short. Sometimes wrestling is all too real.
3) Where did Pro-wrestling come from?
WWF version: In the early to mid 1980's Vince McMahon Jnr, inheriting the WWF from his father, changed the face of the sport, taking it from small run down bingo halls to huge stadiums. He broadcast his shows from coast to coast, becoming so popular that he was able to buy out many small regional promotions and create 'The Worldwide leader in sports entertainment'
The truth: Pro-wrestling grew out of the Music Halls and Carnivals of the late 19th century. Enjoying peaks of popularity at various times during the 20th century it was a largely regional spectacle. Promoters ran shows in a local area and broadcast their shows to the local TV market. In the UK wrestling peak in the late 70's early 80's with the Saturday lunchtime show on ITV being watched by anything up to 1/5th of the population of the country. Ironically as the UK wrestling scene died it took off in the USA. Cable TV stations had plenty of airtime to feel, and little money. Wrestling was cheap programming. The ruthless business practices of Vince McMahon Jnr ensured that the WWF product was seen nationally, and fought of competition to become the most successful US promotion for almost all of the last 20 years.
4) What do all those strange words mean?
Glad you asked, here's a simple guide to some of the language (and to the experts, yes I know some of its not quite right, its a simple guide.)
i) Work - Just about everything you see in Pro-wrestling is a work. This means that both competitors in the ring are cooperating to achieve a successful match. They are selling each others moves and building towards the prearranged finish
ii) Shoot - A real shoot is very rare. A shoot is something that happens for real. An example of a shoot is if one wrestler stops cooperating with the other during a match, stops selling their punches and moves. More common since the breaking of Kayfabe is the worked shoot this is an attempt by the wrestlers to convince the fans that what has happened, usually something a bit unusual, is not in the script.
iii) Selling - Making a move look real. For example if someone throws a punch at you, your reaction would be the act as if you'd really been hit, even if the punch missed, or at best lightly tapped you. Another example of selling is the cumulative build up of damage during a match. If early on your opponent has been doing lots of moves to your left leg, then late in the match you should still be limping, as if your leg still hurts.
iv) Kayfabe - Pretending wrestling is real. A long essay coming on this soon!
v) Job - To lose a match (for example people would say Hollywood Hulk Hogan jobbed to Billy Kidman, more on this in future columns!)
vi) Mark - Originally a Carny slang word for someone they were about to con. Came in wrestling to refer to all fans (from back in the Kayfabe days when the fans were being conned into believing what they were seeing was real).
vii) Smart Mark - Literally a person who knew they were being conned, but still went along with it. These days refers to anyone who thinks they have an insight into how the wrestling world works. (i.e. You after reading this). These people are normally wrong... and yes that includes me!
viii) Sports-entertainment - What the WWF calls wrestling so they don't have to comply with so many of the rules that 'legitimate' sports do.
This document is a living thing and will grow and be updated as required.
Coming in future weeks - 'What wrestling means to me' and 'How the Big Secret is still hurting wrestling today'