Do Professional Wrestling Fans Believe it's Truly Competitive? (If so, why?)

ISTM, from having seen a bit of it here and there, that professional wrestlers make very little pretense of being true competitive matches. This is most glaring in that for the most part they make little or no attempt to defend against their opponents’ moves and tend to just stand there passively awaiting whatever move is about to be put on them.

But I’m not a wrestling fan. What I’m wondering about is people who are. Have these people somehow convinced themselves that these are genuine competitive matches? If so, how? Or do they just enjoy the soap opera/theater aspects (though if you ask me, typical drama is a lot more realistic than professional wrestling) and/or the athleticism of the performers?

We’re well aware it’s pre-determined. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the storytelling and be impressed by the athleticism involved.

No, I don’t think anyone who enjoys pro wrestling believes the matches are genuinely competitive. I haven’t watched in a long time, but I used to enjoy the characters and the theatre. Hell, the promos they cut and the trash talk were often more entertaining than the matches themselves.

More the theatrical and athletic parts. The faces do the “heroic comebacks” just like the good guys do in action movies who have been shot and cut and tortured and whatnot when they defeat the villain at the end. A lot of the stars do get legitimately hurt, usually from constant work and accidents, like in football. Avoiding an opponent’s attacks is considered “no-selling” and risks getting the audience bored.

There is competition in pro-wrestling, though. It happens behind the scenes and in the way that in-ring performances are received. The guys who get shots at belts do so not because of their WL record, of course, but because the audience loves them. Or loves to hate them, whichever angle they are going for. And so the informed fans follow the competition of popularity and good work.

It’s still real to me dammit!

It’s every bit as real as boxing.

I don’t watch wrestling, but I read something once that went like, “Lifting a 250-pound man over your head might have been scripted, but you still have to lift a 250-pound man over your head.”

If I’m flipping through the channels and I happen to land on one that has wrestling on, I’ll watch it if they are in the middle of talking shit to each other (cuz seriously, that’s some funny shit). When they start to actually wrestle, I’ll change the channel. Unless it’s two giant boobed girls going at it of course.

Wrestling is real. It’s just not what it pretends to be. Modern wrestling has stopped trying to hide behind the pretense, so a lot of it sucks now. Trained monkeys would do a better job than 90% of the current big time wrestlers. Sadly, it reflects on the fans that they accept this kind of crap, but for the promoters it’s just about making money and you can sell a lot more fast food hamburgers than Porterhouse steaks.

I watched for a little while years ago, even then, I was just a casual fan, but I’ve never come across anyone who actually thought it was “real”. I used to have the same issue, but I realized it’s just a matter of suspension of disbelief. When I watch a movie, I know that’s not actually happening, and if they do a good job selling it, I enjoy the film more. That’s also what makes for good wrestling. If a wrestler does a convincing move or does a good job convincing me he was hurt, and they do a good job of managing the ebb and flow of the match, with a little bit of that suspension, it can be compelling. It’s like watching a real sport, except you know there’s going to be real drama and momentum shifts, where if I’m watching football, it might be enthralling or it might be a snooze.

The stories are a big part of it too. Think of a big boxing match or a big game between two rival teams. The media will hype it up and it becomes interesting. You become invested in supporting your favorite athlete or team. Regardless of how the match actually turns out, they use how it was promoted and where the story is going to go to help make a good match that fits the narrative. You can create underdog stories, comebacks, flukes, cheats, all kinds of things.

And the best part is, unlike in sports, where I have a favorite team, a few others I like, a few teams I hate, and a bunch of teams i’m indifferent about, with wrestling, a huge part of the fun is getting in with loving the face and hating the heel. That is, there’s always someone to cheer and always someone to boo. And unlike a team that might just be a rival, those heels play into it and make you want to hate them.

So, yeah, it is kind of low brow, and it plays heavily into a lot of that tribal sort of “us vs. them” mentality, but it can be fun. Even today, though I don’t watch, I’ll occasionally stop if I’m flipping through channels and see a match. If a friend were to invite me over to see a pay-per-view, I’d be down for that too, and I’d get them to explain the storylines so I could get into it.

Or, as Mick Foley can tell you, there’s no way to fake being thrown through a steel grate, falling 20 feet, and landing face-first.

It is an athletic and acting performance meant to suck in the audience and get you to suspend disbelief, at least for those few minutes. Not so much different than the Gladiators of old, who were not all fighting to the death, but entertaining through their performance.

But that’s not answering the question that is being asked, is it? :dubious:
When someone asks if wrestling is real, it is rather obvious they aren’t asking if wrestling is real “hard”, or real “work”, or real “dangerous”.

Or, as Owen Hart can tell you*, there’s no way to fake falling 78 feet into the ring and then dying.

*Once you die and go to heaven.
I was fan back in middle school and high school and knew the matches were staged. Once I went and saw the WWF live when they came through my town. I don’t remember much besides being impressed with the athleticism but I’ll never forget Sean Waltman wrestling at the time as “The Lightning Kid” doing flips into and out of the ring. He climbed to the top of the ropes and flipped off to land on another wrestler standing, “dazed” outside of the ring.

Why do you care so much? :dubious: This isn’t your thread. :dubious: Why don’t you keep your junior modding to your own threads. :dubious:

On the subject of whether or not people believe it’s real, all I can say is go check out a small/local wrestlilng promotion where you can sit ringside and check out the audience. It’s a hoot.

I went to a few local matches here in Portland a decade back, and there were a lot of fans that were true believers.

No (for the vast majority of the audience, but the ones are not dissimilar from Twilight fans who think vampires are real). It’s as real as the true story in Fargo. Quite honestly, it is insulting that non-fans are of the opinion that fans think it might be real. Fans are entertained by different aspects of the live, athletic but pre-determined performance just the same as non-fans are entertained by (fill-in-show-I-don’t-like-here).

ETA: No, there weren’t, Czarcasm. Audience participation is a part of the facade, and hugely important to any wrestling show. We root for who we root for, but we know that the outcome was determined before they left the locker room.

While it’s certainly possible that there were folks who believed that the matches were real, I suspect the vast majority of those folks were enjoying the audience participation aspect. Especially in those small shows, the audience is an unpaid part of the production and they’re there to play along.