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  • Writer's pictureThe Gimp

Wrestling Isn't "Fake"

I grew up watching Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling and then later Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (now Entertainment) before The Sports Network in Canada finally decided to air Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling (in tape delay) as well - a couple of years before they were sold to McMahon in 2001.

Even in the 80s when my dad would watch Stampede Wrestling out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, he'd always tell me that the wrestlers yelled and screamed at each other, but went for a beer after the match, when the cameras were turned off. From a young age, figured out that the guy with his face painted was playing a character. Yes, kids, that guy dressed as a clown doesn't dress like that when he's not on TV. Bummer, I know.

Obviously, the 2 guys in the ring presumably weren't actually trying to hurt each other, unless there was something else going on behind the scenes and someone went into business for themselves.

Having said all that, what I also learned from a very young age was that the bumps were real. Yes, the outcomes were all predetermined and both people were working together to put on hopefully a good wrestling match. But there was a definite skill when it came to some of the best in the business at making everything look and appear "real," while at the same time, everyone was being safe in the ring. Bret Hart, son of Stu, was my favourite wrestler as a kid and later Stone Cold Steve Austin, because characters aside, both guys put on incredible, safe matches that had psychology.

The way I look at it, what Tony Khan's All Elite Wrestling is doing with their post-show "shoot interviews" is every bit as bad as what Vince McMahon did to expose the business in the 1980s. If you watched a movie that you thought was based on a true story and someone told you it was all made up as you were leaving the theatre, you'd be upset.

I can't speak for modern wrestling fans, most of whom are giant marks, but I watched it as a kid and young adult knowing it was a "work," but being able to suspend my disbelief on occasion was usually worth the price of admission. Storytelling is key in wrestling. At its best, it's a live action movie where you've basically got one take to get everything right. At its worst, well, that's wrestling over the past 20 years.

Wrestling has never been "fake." But going back to the carnival days, it was always predetermined. Going back to the 1930s, people knew it was a work, but they watched it anyway for the drama - the same reason people watch movies. At its best, it's Terminator 2. At worst, it's one of the Fast and Furious sequels - or Judge Dredd.

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