It’s a question that every wrestling fan has heard: ‘you know it’s fake, right?’ What people rarely mention is that the replies have been heard a million times too. ‘Do you know Game of Thrones is fake?’ or perhaps ‘tell that to Mick Foley!’ (this is usually followed by showing people the iconic Hell in a Cell, which doesn’t take into account that it is an awful first wrestling match to show anyone). We fans have been questioned about our weird allegiance to this pseudo-sport so often that we’ve rehearsed the answers as well as they’ve rehearsed the questions and my only thought is, well, why?
Because here’s the thing. Wrestling is fake. Yes, it hurts, yes, they’re all incredible athletes, and yes, Mick Foley got thrown off the top of a cage. But no, that doesn’t prove anything. It’s a pre-determined sport where people aren’t working to hurt each other, but working together to create the illusion of hurting each other. In other words, they’re faking it. Dress it up however you want. That’s what it is.
And you want to know another secret? The reason I love wrestling, the reason I spend hours perched in front of a screen watching it, the reason I travelled halfway around the world spending thousands of pounds to go to Japan and the reason that I have put hour after hour into writing my bollocks for this website? It’s because wrestling is fake. The very thing that we are so desperate to pretend isn’t true is the very thing that makes its so bloody brilliant.
For it is in its artificiality, that wrestling flourishes. Now, how that artificiality is presented, can vary wildly. Watching Antonio Honda and Lulu Pencil work through surreal comedy has little in common with RINGS, but both still use that nature to craft something that will draw you in. The problem with MMA, boxing or any other combat sport is that narratives inevitably got stomped on. You build up that blue-eyed beauty with the winning smile and the charisma to burn, looking to craft a company around them, and then they go and get knocked out by a bloke who looks like he just rolled out of bed. So, you pivot to the underdog story, except that underdog story comes crashing down when it all goes to their head, so they go into the next fight unprepared and get knocked on their arse. In one swoop you’ve lost the hero and the plucky underdog, so you have to move to the next one, hoping this time it all comes together.
In wrestling, that doesn’t happen. In wrestling, you can push those blue-eyes right to the top, or you can spend months crafting the underdog, sneaking them through the system until they’ve become a star with no-one even noticing it was happening. Then, when they step into the ring, you can let them do the incredible. Most real fights are, let’s be honest, boring. Sure, you’ll get a few corkers, but when talented fighters go to war, they tend to cancel each other out. When talented wrestlers work with each other, they tend to push each others’ strengths to the forefront, whether that be incredible athletics gifts or unusual charisma. Neither Lulu Pencil or Antonio Honda fit into the world of MMA, but they can be whatever we want them to be in wrestling.
Look, I get the frustration of wrestling fans leaping to the defence of their favourite thing. It is a bit annoying when people dismiss the stuff we love, particularly when it’s people being paid lots of money by a big wrestling company. However, it’s time to put those worries behind us. Wrestling is fake, and that’s cool.