As a wee nipper I was a big fan of wrestling. That is to say watching professional wrestling in the form of the World Wrestling Federation, for I possessed very little charisma at this young age and had no signature prop.. I had a snake named Jake in honour of the wrestler, but had no such moustache; I had a parrot named Colin after no-one in particular, but had no golden jacket. Though I was a child, a newly-formed and lesser-intelligent human being, I had started to wise up to the construct of wrestling and believing it to be fake my interest waned. My parents, quick thinkers as they were, taught me that wrestling was indeed fake but often enough it would ‘go real’ when someone pissed someone else off or something. So I would be sitting watching casually when my dad would announce ‘It’s gone real! It’s gone real!’ I would leap of the sofa and stand in front of the television transfixed, watching these actors really go at it, fighting within the fight.
I still watched wrestling for many years after, even when I knew it wasn’t a real undertaker with a real grudge against his real half-brother. I watched it for entertainment. It was hyper-masculine dramatism akin to theatre within a sports league. Characters in costumes each given a narrative to follow, a path to tread that would lead them to be supported by or taunted by the crowd: good, evil or underdog. An operatic UFC. In some ways boxing appears to tread this same line. The drama that surrounds the fight can become the focus, from tabloid fodder to pre-match hype that may simply be promotional but appeals to our innate desire for story. (more…)