Wrestling evolution and popularity
Many experts don’t understand why people like wrestling since it is a real staged show. Techniques shown in wrestling have nothing to do with reality. Why?
From the end of the 19th century to the modern age, discipline has mutated, developing in two directions: on one path, it has become an Olympic discipline, and on the other, performances in the ring. In the 1880-1930s «French wrestling» was very popular.
Fights were held in circuses. Fighters performed in images, and they had their own teams of fans, competitions were as staged as they are now, the same mythology developed around the wrestlers as it is now, etc.
Why do Americans love wrestling?
First shows appeared in Europe in circuses and at carnivals shortly after the end of the Civil War. Most participants learned the discipline in college and competed against spectators, which gave rise to betting, allowing circuses or carnivals to increase their income.
At the beginning of the 20th century, sports in the US gained recognition and popularity. American public was also passionate about wrestling, thanks to the «exploits» of Frank Gotch. After becoming United States champion in 1904 defeated the Russian George Hackenschmidt in Chicago in 1908 in a match that lasted just over two hours, and then in 1911, becoming the first undisputed champion. B
ut after Gotch’s leaving in 1913, the public, understanding that it was as much a spectacle as a sport, began to lose interest in it.
Shortly after the end of World War I, Ed Strangler Lewis, with the help of his managers and all three known as the Gold Dust Trio, took a different view of the discipline. They prefer to emphasize the spectacle. Together they popularized tag team wrestling and organized a company with fighters regularly working for them.
Participants are under the status of independent workers. This status allows World Wrestling Entertainment to insure them only for injuries sustained in the ring and to avoid paying more social security contributions. Fighters, paid at the show, multiply them to chain stamps, sometimes losing their health.
Wrestling is a huge business
Salaries in this industry are much more impressive than in professional boxing. Famous fighters receive millions of dollars in just one fight. The winner is often decided in advance, but based on fan polls, predictions, and storylines (yes, the show has a story).
The current owner of the most-known competition, WWE, is a billionaire. As Forbes states, his fortune is $ 3.4 bill, corresponding to 239th place in the Forbes 400. Over the previous year, the businessman’s fortune has grown significantly, since in 2017 it was estimated at $ 1.3 billion Accordingly, with all the declared income, Vince for 2017-2018. made about $2 billion.
The income of WWE and its owner, consists of several items. One of the main ones is the sale of rights to show shows on TV, and through the PPV (pay-per-view) system. In the list, in descending order, the most profitable items of income of the company are indicated:
- income from the show itself;
- sale of licenses for products related to the discipline;
- sale of DVDs and other videos;
- profit from wwe.com;
- show and website merchandising;
- WWE studio profit;
- earnings from WWE magazine!
A large share of the revenue (15%) comes from the sale of fan merchandise. Since many actors are public’s favorites, recognizable people with a huge number of fans, their images are used on all kinds of souvenirs.
How wrestling works: reasons for show popularity
There are a lot of rumors and prejudices about the discipline. You need to understand that this is primarily a show with a clear script and bright actors who have rehearsed their roles well.
Despite this, each fight takes place with a certain amount of improvisation: this is why spectators worldwide, especially in Western countries, love this sport so much.
Requirements for participants
Wrestling is not positioned as a combat sport or real competition, like boxing or UFC fights, but not everyone can become a fighter. This entertaining art requires good physical fitness, acting skills, and charisma.
Fight in the ring is a performance consisting of many acrobatic stunts. Fighters do not have insurance or the ability to double a bad sequence. Good physical preparation, basics knowledge, and certain skills of martial arts are a must, as is the ability to evoke audience’s emotions.
Discipline as a business is not just a fight in the ring, but a whole story consisting of many scenes, dialogues, scandalous antics, and behavior, in a word, everything that causes excitement and passion among the audience. Fights and meetings of opponents can stretch over many matches, so a play is created with its own history, characters, and relationships.
Writers develop every element of combat. The match consists of several parts: beginning, stage of domination, initiative interception, and the end. Dialogues and replicas are compiled, confrontation course is prescribed, and the main points should surprise and evoke maximum emotions in the fans.
If all the main points are spelled out, the rest falls on the athletes – they improvise along the way. The more proven the wrestler, the more opportunities he has for amateur performances (albeit within the framework of the script).
The ring design is designed in such a way as to dampen the blows from the falls of athletes. But even so, it remains tough, so the participants in the show, first of all, learn the correct technique for falling.
The same applies to all possible types of weapons used in battles: ladders, chairs and tables. These scenery elements are not real, they are made especially for matches, made of thin, very soft materials.
The show is planned by experienced directors who use all the show’s elements, including behavior and actions of the judges and third parties.