COLUMN: Offbeat Shenanigans #13 – The Wrestling Fan’s Handbook

Kevin McElvaney

Hope everyoneâ<80><99>s 2008 is going well so far. Here, as promised, is the latest volume of my ramblings…Offbeat Shenanigans #13.

Last week, I talked about how wrestling fans and critics are perceived by wrestlers. Today, I promised to look at the topic of how the general public treats wrestling fans. Having felt obliged to defend my wrestling fandom dozens of times to those who just donâ<80><99>t â<80><9c>get it,â<80> Iâ<80><99>ve compiled a list of easy defenses for wrestling fans backed into corners. So, rather than simply write this in essay form, allow me to present to you:

The Wrestling Fanâ<80><99>s Survival Handbook

Simply put, these are the defenses you can use when, inevitably, someone asks you â<80><9c>how can you watch that crap?â<80> Here are the most common charges, leveled at wrestling fans, and the corresponding arguments you can present.

1) Itâ<80><99>s not real.

Oh man. Iâ<80><99>ll bet it takes them all day to think up that criticism. Not real…okay. Neither is Lord of The Rings, Smallville, Die Hard, Charmed, The Real World, et. al, but you still watch them. Itâ<80><99>s entertainment, and weâ<80><99>re fully aware. Thanks, though!

2) Itâ<80><99>s not a real sport.

True, for the most part. Itâ<80><99>s choreographed, so itâ<80><99>s not competitive. Still, itâ<80><99>s ENTERTAINING. No offense to MMA fans, but Iâ<80><99>m far less inclined to watch UFC or Bodog or whatever, because itâ<80><99>s real. Ditto with boxing. Wrestling used to be legitimate, but it was staged so that the bouts would be more exciting for the spectator. I donâ<80><99>t really need to see two tough guys trying to dominate each other. I like the mix of acrobatics, stage combat, and drama that pro wrestling provides.

Its status as a sport can be argued, but many of these men are some of the best conditioned athletes in the world. Granted, you can be a wrestler without being an amazing athlete – if you have size or the right look. But pro athletes who are wrestling fans will tell you that the guys who can really go are right up there with, or even better than, some of the athletes in the â<80><9c>real sports,â<80> from a physical standpoint.

3) Itâ<80><99>s â<80><9c>gay.â<80>

First of all, anyone who says this needs to grow up and step into the 21st century. Itâ<80><99>s offensive and stupid. Beyond that, yes, thereâ<80><99>s a certain amount of homoeroticism in wrestling, but that could be said for almost any sport. Playful pats on the butt in the locker room? Leg scissors in an MMA fight? Elton John playing World Team Tennis?

Okay, Iâ<80><99>ve gone and gotten silly here, but you get the point. Contact athletics are what they are. Wrestlers wear trunks and go shirtless, most of the time, because it frees them to compete better. (Just like in boxing, but no one calls boxing “gay.”) If the â<80><9c>all guysâ<80> thing bothers you, thereâ<80><99>s plenty of beautiful women on both WWE and TNA programming. Who knows…Iâ<80><99>m sure some fans watch, deliberately, to see two guys rolling around with each other. And thatâ<80><99>s fine, too.

4) Itâ<80><99>s fake.

This may seem like the same as number one, but itâ<80><99>s an even more insulting way of putting things. Fake? Pain, for pro wrestlers, is very real. Injuries abound. Falling on to a ring, no matter how springy, is not something just anyone can do. Moreover, wrestlers are sore after their matches. The blood, though often self-induced, is real. (Blood capsules in the mouth are an exception.) And those red handprints on a wrestlerâ<80><99>s chest after a knife-edged chop? Real.

5) TNA doesnâ<80><99>t push Shark Boy enough.

I agree.

Save for those who are legitimately concerned about the steroid problem, it seems like us fans have more legit complaints about the business than the general public, doesn’t it? As a final defense for us wrestling fans, Iâ<80><99>ll just say this: weâ<80><99>re watching what is arguably the coolest variety show on earth. Go one place, or tune in at the right time, and you can see great athletics, acrobatics, and the like. Tune in another time, and thereâ<80><99>s some really great, emotional storylines. Watch humorous backstage antics which, in the proper setting, are as funny as anything else on TV. Not that I agree with a damn thing he says, otherwise, but Rush Limbaugh once said that WWE has the best comedy writers on TV. At times, I think this is true.

Pro wrestling has been one of the most enduring presences in the history of television, and, in addition, it certainly has its place in the world of professional sports. Keep watching, fans, and keep enjoying. With the exception of some real stinker broadcasts, I know I will.

Kevin McElvaney is also a contributing writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestler / Inside Wrestling. Send questions or comments to

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