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All Is Fake: Inside The Wrestling Community

Back in the year 2003(ish), I got a video game from my parents, for the Playstation 2. It was a WWE game, WWE being World Wrestling Entertainment – the largest sports entertainment franchise in the world. In the game, it was possible to play various characters, follow storylines, win championships, or even; create your own characters, with their own, new stories. After playing it for a little while, I decided to look the WWE up on the Internet, and after seeing just one video, I was sold. The fights, the storylines, the excitement; it was all just briljant! I loved the WWE, until one year after that, when someone explained to me that the fighting was ‘fake’. I was no less than heartbroken than when I heard that Sinterklaas did not really exist. I felt betrayed, so to speak.
Years later, when I was already in high school, I was at a friend’s place. We played a WWE game, and after playing that newer game for a while, I knew I missed watching it. I wanted to start watching the WWE again, no matter if it was fake. So I did, and here we are today. This year, I started to help the WWE out by joining the Street Team (basically, providing feedback to the live events etc.), bought the WWE Network, and attended a Live Event this year in Rotterdam.

Yours truly (l) with The Swiss Superman a.k.a. Cesaro.

Yours truly (l) with The Swiss Superman a.k.a. Cesaro.

Just to offer a little more explanation on what the WWE is and what it offers: The WWE offers what they call ‘sports entertainment’, but it is most often referred to as professional wrestling. The concept is that fights can be more entertaining as they are in, for example, the UFC, simply by adding excitement in multiple ways. Each wrestler has an individual character, an individual moveset, and an individual story. The fights are not staged, however, most moves are actually stunts, and the results are fixed. This does not mean nobody gets hurt, but it means the opponent knows what is coming – if the opponent would not know, wrestling would be ten times more dangerous than it already is.
All this does not entail that wrestlers are not good fighters either: several wrestlers have successfully made the transition to different fighting disciplines, mostly Mixed Martial Arts. Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn and, more recently, Brock Lesnar, are some good examples of that. The three of those are MMA legends – either because of their fighting record, or just because of their sheer in-ring dominance.

Anyways, back to the story I was telling. For some reason, even though professional wrestling is offered on Dutch television, and even though there have been several live events in the last few years, professional wrestling never really caught on in the Netherlands. In fact, saying you are a fan is practically taboo, because there are several standard reactions that no-one in the wrestling community likes to hear. I tried asking my friends if they liked wrestling as well, and here are some of the answers I got from them:
“Wrestling, that’s the fake stuff, right?”
“Oh true, I remember the game man, played it when I was young.”
“I always liked Hulk Hogan, is he still around?”
People imply for some reason that time stands still in the wrestling world – Hogan is in his sixties, the games are really advanced and fun by now, and, I will say it another time, wrestling is not truely fake. The punches that are taken? Real. The backbumps? Real. The headwounds? Real. Someone thrown through a table? Real. Someone took a chair to the face? Oh hell yes, real! They even take chairs from the audience, so the audience knows the chairs are real!

It is sad that wrestling never really caught on here in the Netherlands. Or at least, it seems did not. I personally like to think that there are a lot of so-called ‘closet fans’, who watch or at least like professional wrestling, but are too afraid(?) to admit to, as saying so is taboo – you shall not abide to watching staged fights. And I did not write this article to convince you into watching professional wrestling, nor did I plan to promote it in this article. I wanted to give an insight as to why people like professional wrestling. It is the atmosphere. The stories. The fights. The sheer entertainment value, the aura that surrounds the ring when a fan favorite enters. It was very apparent at the Live Event this May in Ahoy’ Rotterdam – the fans were exploding with excitement, the cheers and boos were loud as ever, and the meet & greet was packed with fans who wanted to see some of their hero’s in real life.
I guess I am kind of proud to say that I am a small part of this big, big wrestling world.

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