Why Fake is a four letter word.
There was a time when any true wrestling fan would bristle at the word “fake”.
No matter what the internal processing of the nature of professional wrestling, those fans bought tickets, traveled to the arena, paid for parking, bought various offerings at the venue, often purchasing the tickets for the next event at intermission, and maintained an adherence to the industry.
Unfortunately, it’s not often a profanity among today’s fans, because that’s not exactly the intent of the product anymore. The time when professional wrestling was taken as a pure entertainment and a sport and an amazingly crafted performance is long past. The time when fans took a professional wrestling match seriously, and often way too seriously, is long gone. The time when professional wrestlers were looked upon with awe, respect and acknowledgement of their athleticism is fading.
But it shouldn’t have to fade.
Professional wrestling’s long history is replete with cycles. This current cycle is long overdue for a revolution, and wow, it’s been a decade since I discussed this with Terry Funk, but at the time when his book was released, he was convinced that MMA would influence pro wrestling a lot more than it has.
I hoped it would make pro wrestling more real, but we did have Brock Lesnar, and we may have Rhonda Rousey, and maybe one day the indie world will do more with submissions.
Funny, whatever happened to that form of finish?
Last night, watching the UFC Fight Night, it crossed my mind whether someone could win a fight with the Cobra Clutch. That was an argument that would have lasted many conversations back in the day. Today, fans don’t seem so much into the clashes of styles and finishes and body types.
Of course, that’s more because the current product and the dominance of the WWE homogenized professional wrestling to the point that the difference between Daniel Bryan and The Big Show is just a matter of perspective.
Well, ok, it’s not that bad.
But fake? Fake is a four-letter word in many ways. Sure, there’s a dictionary definition that says fake=sham, but I know from many conversations that fake = not real, and to say that professional wrestling is not real is to be utterly dismissive of the professional wrestlers over the year.
It’s tragic that so many guys – guys like Harley Race, Ivan Koloff and Bruno Sammartino – have so terribly destroyed their bodies to perform the artform of professional wrestling for the masses. The oldest generations of wrestlers are battling back problems, joint problems and pain because of their talent, passion and performances.
The people that dismiss professional wrestling as being fake are often the same ones that say blood was ketchup, or that wrestlers used capsules. The blood is fake, just like the bumps (I guess) in the minds of the dismissive.
As Bruno has told me, those rings were like concrete.
And it only goes to say that taking a bump on concrete isn’t the best way to prepare for retirement, let alone taking them night after night, year after year, and often with a body that is already battered beyond comprehension.
Anyone who thinks crashing to the canvas covered wood, or the mat-less ringside, or taking a shot from a guy who’s more concerned about making it look real than making it look phoney … well, anyone who thinks flesh and blood isn’t real deserves some hardway juice.
It’s been over 30 years since David Shultz slapped John Stossel, and I don’t recommend that response, nor would I likely emulate it, but I don’t know if professionals today would have that sort of reaction.
In many ways, not having fans wanting to kill the heel is also better for the overall picture, but there was a time when wrestling was vastly more realistic and vastly less phoney. Those wrestlers who were in tune with the audience (professional wrestling truly is an arena sport, not a TV sport) could stoke emotions with word and actions, promises and deeds, and ultimately brought paying fans back month after month, year after year, decade after decade.
These days there’s less of a stigma about calling professional wrestling fake, and that’s a bad thing. These days we see TV shows like the Big Bang Theory and we know from those portrayals of zealous fans of sci-fi and fantasy and gaming that you would never, ever Chris Jericho enunciation walk up to a Star Wars conventioneer and snidely speak “It’s all fake” to a guy dressed up like a Wookie or one brandishing a neon green lightsaber.
You just wouldn’t.
Which probably, definitely or at least plausibly explains things like 2.5 Monday Night Raw ratings; the inability of $9.95 being anything but a crass and tone-deaf catch phrase; or the ongoing and typically negative conversations I have with my friend about the nature of professional wrestling.
Why is f-a-k-e a four letter word?
Because it is utterly dismissive of a once great entertainment form, one that once make the term unspeakable.