Save the drama for your mama

What happened to professional wrestling? There used to be a small amount of drama in the good old World Wrestling Federation (WWF), when original heroes like Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper came to fame.

What happened to professional wrestling? There used to be a small amount of drama in the good old World Wrestling Federation (WWF), when original heroes like Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper came to fame. Pro wresting has always harnessed a touch of drama, but the focus used to be on inexpensive events in your hometown, not over-the-top soap operas for boys that require a digital cable subscription or costly tickets to watch.

The death of an era

The WWF is now called World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), following a civil suit from an animal rights group that shared the WWF acronym. In the mid-90s, there was much scandal for pro wrestling when it was revealed that the fights were staged and scripted–a scandal made much worse amid rumors of steroid use.

After a few years of dying a painful death, producers tried to breathe life back into pro wrestling by embracing the drama. The focus shifted from inside the ring to folding chair attacks in the locker rooms and long-winded speeches between the wrestlers. The winner was no longer the best fighter, but whichever brawler got the most cable network support and filled the most seats.

The wrestlers began wearing outlandish costumes beyond the standard boots and banana slings. They even started sporting more face makeup than a group of cheerleaders at a Mary Kay convention. Producers decided that wrestling ought to have a softer side… and the WWE Divas came to life.

Closing the gender gap

The WWF forgot to include lady brawlers, but the WWE knew that silicone-laden blondes who could pull hair and throw punches would bring in even more drama. Today, lady wrasslers like Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool and Playboy cover girl Ashley Massaro shake their asses while pinning one another, causing instant erections to their key demographic (see also: middle school boys).

The ladies have been a nice addition, though they fuel the stereotype that it’s only possible for women to succeed in a man’s world if they have big racks and pounds of makeup on.

But the men are still pro wrestling’s drama queens, and these modern studs wouldn’t stand a chance against the old school champs. Imagine Hulk Hogan or “Macho Man” Randy Savage in their prime brawling with today’s sissies: they would tear apart Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or John Cena, the extremely Caucasian and self-titled “Doctor of Thuganomics.”

Who’s still paying attention?

The pussified nicknames and the cheesy drama still seem to garner fans, but most of them are fresh out of meth rehab. It’s an undeniable fact that speedballers have become the bread and butter of the modern wrestling fan base. Every year, the get-ups become more ridiculous, the plot twists get dumbed down and the action flows at a pace that only a tweaker could follow.

The worst part of all has become the marketing: weekly WWE events catch fans up on the drama of new alliances and breakups, but the free cable events rarely show the actual fighting. If you want to see the real brawls, you have to sign up for a digital cable package or pay $20 to see a main event through Pay-Per-View. You can also wait to buy tickets to a local event, but those are few and far between, with tickets running between $75 for distant seats and $150 to sit ringside. Pro wrestling producers have done a fine job of giving fans a free look at one nipple, but they never bare it all until a fan has paid arena admission or cable fees.

Live sex on cable television?

The best proof of this teasing scheme was the “live sex event” that happened last year. Commercials leading up to the regular programming of the weekly Monday Night Raw wrestling show claimed that there would be a scene of full-on sex included. Naturally, the ratings were through the roof and everyone was expecting some real sauciness amid their drama-rama.

Just before the wrestlers started undressing and prepared to get nasty on the canvas, The Undertaker showed up with a friend to bust up the loving couple. The previous week’s Raw built up some drama between The Undertaker and the guy about to get lucky, so just before uglies were bumped, a fight broke out and no flesh was flashed.

A fan speaks out

It’s this sort of tantalizing trick that keeps the world of pro wresting alive, though for a casual fan it’s just too frustrating to pay attention. Ian Blake, a former pro wrestling fan and PSU freshman, said that he remembers the glory he saw in wrestling as a child and wishes that the meth crowd hadn’t usurped what used to be his main reason to turn on the TV.

“It’s fucking tragic to see what happened to wrestling,” Blake said. “I remember fake wrestling with my friends in elementary school, but when we found out that our ‘fights’ were the same thing we were watching, wrestling just lost its flavor. Then the tweakers had to go and ruin the whole gig for me.”

Blake isn’t alone in his sense of loss at the degradation of a once, well, not pure tradition, but certainly of a sport that used to be more honest and entertaining than today’s drama. One can only hope that pro wrestling will tone it down sometime soon and let up on the advertising schemes, or else die a righteous death after producers are gunned down by methed-out fans who didn’t approve of last week’s winners.