In the world of professional wrestling, our “F” word is different to the one the rest of the world deems offensive. As a fan of the product since before I can even remember, it’s a subject near and dear to my heart that is often said by the fans, but never heard by the naysayers. Professional wrestling has several negative stigmas attached to it by a majority of the world outside of it — the possible use of steroids, cheesy storylines that sometimes wouldn’t even pass in the worst soap operas, men in underwear grabbing each other in the ring (because apparently things that can be linked to anything homosexually-related are still a honey pot for ridicule in this day and age…) – these are all topics that come up frequently when people dismiss the product. But the one that comes up without a fail more than anything else? The fact that wrestling is “fake”.
The reason that word is such a hot topic for the fanbase and the wrestlers themselves is the very definition of it: fake suggests that nothing that takes place in the sport is real whatsoever and the fans and wrestlers alike are somehow kidding themselves and should be mocked for it. Allow me to clarify right now, wrestling is in fact not fake. The word these people are mistaking it for is “predetermined”. Yes, the outcomes of matches in professional wrestling are already determined before they take place, as are the majority of storylines which are usually put down on paper weeks or sometimes months in advance. And yes, the moves are choreographed to an extent and the wrestlers are trained how to take them and how to deliver them to each other. That doesn’t mean, however, that the moves are not real. For anybody who doubts this, they should be happy to let a seven foot tall, four to five hundred pound man pick them up and slam them into the ground to see how fake it is. If the person is not willing to do this, they should probably rethink their use of the word “fake”.
The other issue that the wrestling community has with this word is the attitude that usually comes with it when it is used. Describing what these men and women do for a lifelong career as “fake” is the ultimate example of disrespect to the product the entertainers, and their talents. People wouldn’t dream of using the word “fake” to describe a movie or television series, but when they’re put next to the world of professional wrestling, there honestly isn’t much difference. Both have a script, both have people who play certain roles both on and off screen, both have continuity between characters and events, and both have things that can go wrong during their filming. The major difference with this last point, however, is if something goes wrong during the filming of Breaking Bad, for example, the director yells “Cut!” and they redo the scene until it is perfect, whereas if something goes wrong in professional wrestling, the entertainers have to improvise on the spot on live television, or in worse situations have to be carried away with a brutal injury. Once again, this is another aspect of the product that is certainly not fake: the injuries.
Wrestlers and the fans are not forcing you to sit down and watch the product until you’re a fan of it, they just find the term “fake” offensive when it is used to describe the world that they are immersed in. Jackie Chan’s stunt’s aren’t called “fake” despite the fact that they are choreographed, so neither should the stunts of Luchadors of the world. Larry David’s improvised lines on Curb Your Enthusiasm don’t result in the show being called “fake”, so neither should the improvised lines of greats like The Rock or CM Punk, who are in their own right masters of the microphone in the world of professional wrestling.
So next time you might want to say to a professional wrestling enthusiast “You know wrestling is fake, right?” please remember that this product has a cult following the same way things like movie franchises, other sports, and bands do, and all the fans want is for their heroes to be given a bit more respect than they are deemed fit to receive by the philistines of professional wrestling throughout the world.