Notes from the Nosebleeds #126
July 23, 2011
By: Matt O’Brien of

You are an idiot if you like professional wrestling. Just saying. Actually I do not believe that. After all I am a wrestling fan. While I sometimes say and do things that aren’t very smart, I do not believe that wrestling has anything to do with my IQ. Unfortunately there are people out there who associate those who like professional wrestling with stupidity. I apologize if this week’s Nosebleeds feels more like a rant than anything constructive. Over the course of my life as a wrestling fan, I, as well as all of you, have received harsh criticism or been made to feel bad for liking pro wrestling. It gets tiring feeling like you have to defend yourself against critics. Perhaps the feelings of “outsiders” are validated in some way. Maybe one reason a negative aura surrounds wrestling is the way we as wrestling fans present ourselves, and the industry, to others.

This week WWE came to Minneapolis for the Smackdown tapings. A few of my friends from the office went and had a great time. They came in the office the next day and talked about how much fun they had. One of the individuals, let’s call him Russ, was eager to talk about the show. He has a son who used to enjoy watching wrestling with him. Russ used to take his kid to live matches as well. It was a great bonding experience for them until the day Russ broke the news to his son that wrestling is fake. His heartbroken kid now refuses to watch wrestling. In a way, he feels betrayed. Russ continues to watch wrestling with his friends and had a great time at the Smackdown tapings the other night. As we were talking about the time he had, a fellow employee began giving his take on wrestling. This coworker – Luke – seemed truly fascinated by pro wrestling, but not it a good way. He expressed his disbelief at how much money WWE can make. Luke said something that really struck me. He said he doesn’t understand how people will shell out so much money for something that is fake. Quite a slam on wrestling fans, huh?

There was a time some months ago when my wife and I were talking with some relatives about how I write for Wrestleview. The woman next to my wife turned to her and asked “Does he know it’s fake?” My lovely spouse’s reply to the grand inquisitor was a roll of the eyes. “Yes,” she replied. It’s probably a good thing my relative made sure I knew that the whole wrestling bit isn’t real. I knew I should blow off those comments, but I couldn’t help but be annoyed. Assume I didn’t know it wasn’t real. What would that mean? Wrestling fans are looked down on either way by outsiders. Either they are oblivious idiots who spend money to watch something that is not even real, or they know it is not real but watch it anyway. If you know wresting is not real and continue to watch it, you must be a masochist. It doesn’t matter what kind of fan of wrestling you are, just as long as you are a fan, you are not very bright. Even though wrestling continues to make money, you are the dumb sheep paying for it. Forget about everything else in your life that you accomplish. You can even have a doctorate, but as long as you are a wrestling fan it is a blemish on one’s view of you.

I digress from Luke’s comment. Yes people do pay a lot of money for something that isn’t real. Do you know how much money the latest Harry Potter film has made? A ludicrous amount. Imagine walking into the movie theater to buy a ticket so you can spend your Saturday night watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. You walk up to the counter to buy your ticket, but you are stopped by a striking individual whose intelligence surpasses yours in ways you cannot comprehend. They stop you and say “Hold on a second. Do you realize what you are doing? You are about to pay money to watch this film. You need to understand that there is no such thing as magic. It’s all made up! You know that fight between Harry and Voldemort you want to see? It’s fake! Why would you pay to watch that?”

Your response would likely be to tell so and so to get out of your way. You would then buy your ticket and enjoy the show. Now go back to the life of a professional wrestling fan. We hear stuff like this all the time. The great philosophical argument goes like this:

1. If something is not real, it is stupid.
2. Professional wrestling is not real.

Therefore, professional wrestling is stupid.

Yes, because real sports like football and MMA where the goal is to go out and try to hurt your opponent is so much better. As annoying and hypocritical as it gets hearing outsiders say things that fall into that argument, I kind of get it. I can understand why outsiders feel the way they do about professional wrestling and its fans.

So many people, wrestling fans included, have this idea that wrestling is a sport. It’s not. It is made to look like one. One reason people view it as a sport is because they have been worked by the industry to think it is one. There really is no way to confine or define what pro wrestling is. Art, live theater, and soap opera are just a few of the terms thrown out. One criticism a lot of traditional wrestlers have of today’s wrestling is the choreography of it all. What they say makes sense. There really is no rhyme or reason to what they are doing a times. One term they throw out is ballet. Okay, well ballet is about using your body to tell a story. Sounds a lot to me like pro wrestling. I really appreciate the work of Darren Aronofsky and his companion movies, The Wrestler and Black Swan. He did a great job of pulling you in and appreciating two misunderstood crafts. But we cannot rely on people like Aronofsky. We must step up.

Wrestling fans are great people. There is just something about the dynamic of a wrestling crowd that blows my mind. Problems arise when grown men show up in public places decked out in wrestling gear wearing championship belt replicas. They start throwing catchphrases that embarrass them. There will always be individuals like that in all aspects of life. I am not calling for a revolution, just a way for us to better present ourselves and the craft we love.

How to go about this is hard to say. I just tell people that I enjoy it from a storytelling aspect the same way I enjoy Dexter or The Office. This always hard to explain things to outsiders. This is totally different, but religions fall under criticism, as do its followers, because people do not understand it. Wrestling comes under scrutiny because people do not understand it, even though it is a form of entertainment. How do we go about changing the hearts and minds of people? We start with ourselves.

Matt O’Brien
Professional Wrestling Fan