Mouse wrestling

Wrestlers stepped into the ring at “Battle of Spaulding” with one common goal in mind: to dominate. An active audience watched the performers, whereas now, COVID-19 restrictions have gave way to virtual audiences.                                                  / Photos courtesy of Mouse’s Wrestling Adventures

With former wrestlers like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dave Bautista entering acting careers, most people are aware of the existence of pro wrestling. However, very few of those watch the media these actors came from — and they should. 

 

The best way to describe pro wrestling is theater with athleticism and, depending on the matches, some gore. Why people watch wrestling will vary between fans. Most wrestling fans don’t watch it for the fighting. Sure, that’s part of the appeal, but what wrestling is really about is the stories that can be told through their bodies while fighting and cutting promos (insulting interviews about competitors) on the mic. 

 

What puts most people off pro wrestling is that it’s “fake.” It’s no mixed martial arts, but the displays of athleticism are real. Even if they aren’t knocking each other unconscious, doing various flips and rough moves without injuring themselves or their opponent is worthy of praise. Sure, the outcomes of matches are predetermined, but that’s all part of telling a story. 

 

It’s fun and simple to boo the bad guy (known as a heel) and cheer for the good guy (called the face or babyface). Some of the best moments in wrestling history have been when wrestlers change alignment. It’s always memorable when a beloved babyface turns heel with a surprise low blow to his opponent and returns in the next show with a whole new look to match his evil persona. 

 

The ways wrestlers reinvent themselves and their character evolves is part of the fun. The part parody and part video essay “Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling” does a great job at hammering this point home through the evolution of Triple H’s character during the ‘90s and ‘00s. I always show it to anyone I can rope into watching wrestling.

 

The thing that can make wrestling difficult to get into is that it is almost entirely self-referential. Wrestlers will pay homage to those they were trained by as well as wrestlers they grew up watching. Some storylines are crafted specifically to parallel the great feuds of the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s still enjoyable without knowing everything that might be referenced and typically commentators are quick to point out those things. There are also several pro wrestling wikis I have used to give myself context.  

 

Now is a great time to get into wrestling. Especially with the rise of LGBTQ+ wrestlers and content created specifically for queer wrestling fans. While homophobia is still an issue within wrestling, promotions like All Elite Wrestling protect their performers and fans by kicking out people who say or do bigoted things to others. Women’s wrestling is also amazing right now, especially Japanese women’s wrestling known as joshi puroresu. The bra and panty matches of the ‘90s are thankfully long gone.

 

There are also multiple independent Metro East wrestling promotions that deserve some love, especially with the pandemic. They're a great way to get the live wrestling experience for less money, with more audience interaction while supporting local businesses. There’s St. Louis Anarchy and Pro Wrestling Epic in Alton, Illinois, World Powerhouse Wrestling in Collinsville, Illinois, and Glory Pro Wrestling in St. Louis.

 

Wrestling is beautiful because it has something for everyone. There are countless companies — called promotions by fans and those in the business. There are the big league produced for TV promotions like World Wrestling Entertainment and All Elite Wrestling, midsize recorded promotions like IMPACT Wrestling and Ring of Honor and many, many smaller independent promotions. There are also some large promotions internationally that are worth checking out like New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide

 

Many of these promotions have their own individual streaming sites, but there are some that allow you to see a variety of promotions. Wrestle Universe streams multiple Japanese wrestling promotions like DDT Pro-Wrestling, Pro-Wrestling Basara, Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling NOAH. There is also Independent Wrestling TV that has 277 promotions in its library and streams live events.

 

Of course, all of these streaming services cost money and aren’t something everyone can afford. There are countless matches available for free on YouTube, many uploaded by the promotions themselves, that are a good way to see what you like. IMPACT also streams most of their shows for free on Twitch and will do long streams of archived matches. 

 

So I will nudge you, dear readers, to get involved with the world of wrestling just as I have bugged everyone else in my life about it. It’s genuinely fascinating with a variety of wrestler personas and fighting styles. From traditional grapple wrestling to bloody death matches, anyone can find something that appeals to them.

 

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