10 Biggest Reasons to Give Pro Wrestling A Chance As An Adult (If You Missed Out as a Kid)
Photo: STRINGER / Contributor (Getty Images)
“Isn’t it all fake?” That is the question that fans of professional wrestling have been inundated with throughout the past 40 years. First of all, pro wrestling isn’t “fake.” It’s predetermined. Secondly, aren’t Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and literally almost every other form of entertainment “fake” as well?
Exactly. Now that that argument is settled, it’s important to focus on what professional wrestling actually is. It’s an athletic soap opera. Professional wrestling, when done right, presents compelling characters and interesting storylines, as well as athletic feats that truly must be seen to be believed.
Whether you’re a lapsed fan who hasn’t watched professional wrestling since the ’90s, or a new fan of pro wrestling thanks to the likes of John Cena, Ronda Rousey, or The Rock, these are the 10 biggest reasons to give pro wrestling a chance.
The Athleticism is the Best it’s Ever Been
Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, professional wrestling was full of colorful characters. Men like Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage would dazzle audiences with their fancy entrances, enormous muscles and excellent "promo" skills. But when the bell rang for the match to start, the actual wrestling left much to be desired.
Comparatively speaking, wrestling has almost taken precedence over "showmanship" these days. For better or worse, wrestlers are performing athletic feats never before seen. Almost every wrestler in WWE and beyond are trying to out-wrestle each other and the results are breathtaking. There may not be as many "characters" as their used to be, but the art of wrestling has never been more on display.
The Rock Still Calls Pro Wrestling 'Home'
The Rock is the highest-paid actor in the world right now. He is a bona fide box office behemoth and he will be making movies until he’s as old as an actual rock. But to him, WWE and, by extension, professional wrestling will always be "home." The Rock came back for a handful of matches in 2012/2013 and has appeared sporadically since then, but he has said that when the time is right (and by time, he means money) he’ll come back home one more time.
'Rowdy' Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey is a megastar from the world of UFC. She was a robot in the MMA world and when she signed with WWE, she brought with her a ton of new viewers. In just the short year she has been involved, Rousey has put on a number of classic matches and she’s proven herself to pro wrestling fans. Rousey brought with her a sense of realism not seen since Brock Lesnar made his return to the company back in 2012.
Women Actually Get to Wrestle
In the ‘90s, women were viewed more as "eye candy" than legitimate competitors. This was through no fault of their own; wrestling companies just didn’t take "women’s wrestling" seriously. Instead of hard-fought, gut-wrenching athletic contests, women were tasked with taking part in "bra-and-panties" matches, bikini contests and, at one dark point in 2003, HLA. Google it.
These days, things couldn’t be more different. Outside fight stars such as Ronda Rousey and Shayna Bazzler have joined WWE and put on incredible matches with some of the homegrown stars, such as Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley and more. These women are doing more for professional wrestling than a lot of their male counterparts. Charlotte Flair and Natalya Neidhardt are living up to their namesake and wrestlers on the independent scene are making a splash every single week. Women are no longer mere valets; they’re viewed as legitimate athletes and that is a very, very good thing.
It's More Than Just a Television Show
Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, audiences could only watch pro wrestling via their television screens. There were designated nights and times that were put aside strictly to air wrestling. These days, it is literally everywhere. Matches take place on YouTube, interviews happen on Twitter and stories about the "glory days" are told on a multitude of podcasts. One wrestling company in particular (we’ll get back to them) has sold out entire arenas in less than 5 minutes, strictly based on their online presence. With technological advances like DVR and streaming services, professional wrestling has become easily accessible on all platforms.
Collecting Isn't Creepy Anymore
It used to be that if a guy in his ‘30s displayed a bunch of action figures around his apartment, people probably thought he was a serial killer. These days, however, displaying a bunch of dolls around the house is not only not looked down upon in the wrestling community, it’s encouraged! They call it "collecting." Thanks to social media and podcast interviews, fans from all across the globe are sharing their collections with each other, trading merchandise and offering each other tips on where to find the best figures. A real sense of community has developed between pro wrestling fans, and it allows all of us to be kids again.
$10 Buys All the History You Need
Speaking of platforms, a few years ago WWE launched their very own network, available on all major devices, where it airs live content as well as network specials, documentaries and more. WWE owns the entire video libraries of their own company, as well as other organizations like WCW, ECW, AWA and more. History is literally at your fingertips, so if you’re not impressed with today’s content, you can always go back and relive the glory days.
Truth is Stranger (Better) Than Fiction
Wrestling organizations like WWE write multiple shows every week. These shows, when done well, are on par with anything HBO or Netflix has to offer. They’re tales of heroes and villains, victories and adversity. The best stories, however, are the ones that go on behind the scenes. Famed double-crosses like the Montreal Screwjob, Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top, fall from grace and return as well as the majorly bad blood between CM Punk and WWE, his former employer are all "real" stories that have happened behind closed doors, but sometimes the audience gets a peek into the real world of professional wrestling.
It's More Real Than You Think
Yes, pro wrestling is "pre-determined." But to say it’s "fake" does a disservice to the thousands of wrestlers who have given their lives (sometimes literally) just to achieve their dream. Mick Foley was thrown off a 20 foot cage onto a table below. Owen Hart legitimately died during a wrestling stunt gone wrong. Countless wrestlers have been paralyzed and seen their careers cut short, just because they wanted to give fans something to remember. Pro wrestling is a storytelling device, just like any other sort of entertainment. It’s operatic, athletic theater. It’s all of these things and more, but it is anything but fake.
The War is About to be Revisited
The mid ‘90s were the high points of professional wrestling. It’s the last big boom of the modern century. When WWE were squaring off against the rival WCW for rating supremacy, both companies were committed to making an impact each and every week. Ever since WWE purchased WCW and ended the "Monday Night Wars," they’ve become complacent. The wrestlers themselves are working harder than anybody in the ‘90s did, but the writing, the storytelling just isn’t there like it used to be.
Hopefully, that’s about to change. Tony Khan, part owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has launched a new pro wrestling company with performers like Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho and The Young Bucks in featured roles, both in front of and behind the camera. Khan is throwing a lot of money into this company, called All Elite Wrestling (AEW). They recently aired a pay-per-view that many fans argue was the best in the past ten years. Their biggest win, so far, is a television deal with Turner Broadcasting, specifically TNT, the very same station that WCW aired on all those years ago.
We’ve been living in the calm of the storm for too long, but things are about to change. Professional wrestling, as we know it, is about to reenter the pop culture pantheon, and now is the perfect time to become a fan once again.