Confessions of a Guilty Pleasure

Pro wrestling is not fake; it’s sports entertainment. We go out there and we perform, and a lot of what we do out there is real, but we’re not going to insult anyone’s intelligence – there is a predetermined winner. It’s just the fans don’t know who it is, and that’s what makes it so intriguing.

Kurt Angle

Ok, I have to admit I have many guilty pleasures whether it be from watching cartoons, drinking too much and smoking waaaay too much. I am a pop culture geek and a nerd from the days when being a nerd was still a bad thing. The most shameful guilty pleasure I have though is being a pro wrestling fan. Now I don’t watch it regularly and many times in my life there have been years and years that go back without me watching a show. However every once in awhile I’ll go on a binge of watching wrestling.

The main reason why I love pro wrestling is because there really isn’t anything as American as pro wrestling. I guess nowadays reality shows come close, but again pro wrestling is pretty much the blueprint for the modern reality show where it is a scripted reality that let’s people show off their personalities.

Ahhh, America~ too bad you were made in China.

Fond Memories

I remember watching it as a young child starting with the Saturday Night Main Event. I used to watch SNL in elementary school and every once in awhile WWE (WWF at the time) would have a show on. Being a kid who pretty much grew up in Korea until then seeing this was the weirdest thing on TV. My father was a big fight fan and we used to watch boxing together all the time, but this was fighting that was way beyond that. As I grew up from middle to high school and college I didn’t watch or pay attention to wrestling, but when I moved to Korea and lived there for years and years without really any exposure to American culture except for a few TV shows, movies and music I was really, really craving a bit of Americana.

One day flipping through TV I caught WWE on cable and became hooked on it. I rejoined the world of wrestling during the Attitude Era with wrestlers such as the Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and D-Generation X and even though by then I knew that it was fake there really wasn’t anything more American than that on TV in Korea. By that time I had been in Korea for over five years without a single return to the US and the things that I missed most was Taco Bell (yeah, I know), a good hamburger and American TV. My partners in watching wrestling also made it that much more memorable for me. The first was my girlfriend at the time and we’d sit in her apartment cooking and eating Western meals while watching wrestling in bed. It was a nice way to spend the day and we always had a good laugh. My second partner in crime was my grandmother.

Hamburgers, bourbon and wrestling some of the greatest American inventions.

As I said I spent part of my childhood in Korea from about age two to five and can’t say that I remember much. There were some single memories like going to a certain place or a specific place, but I don’t really have any memories of my grandmother who had never visited us in the US and had never left the country so having time spent with her was and still is important to me. By the time I came back to Korea my grandmother had suffered from a stoke and Alzheimer’s so sitting down and having a talk with her or going somewhere with her was not really a possibility. So instead we’d sit in front of the TV and see grown men jump around a ring and pretend to hit each other with death defying moves. My mother, aunts, uncles and cousins all had memories of a very strict woman who was all no nonsense with them, but for me my grandmother was someone who always chuckled when someone got body slammed.

Alone with my guilty pleasure.

It wasn’t just WWE that I watched, but TNA as well and it was a nice change or pace as I had missed the Monday Night Wars of the previous years. As time went on my grandmother passed and my relationship status change. As I lost my partners in my guilty pleasure I stopped watching as I got interested in MMA, but still every once in awhile I would still catch an episode here and there because again it was still a guilty pleasure.

Return of an Old Friend

Last year in 2016 I saw that AJ Styles one of my favorite wrestlers from TNA finally made it to WWE in the 2016 Royal Rumble so I checked it out. It had been quite sometime since I saw him and I noticed how much he had matured and it made me realize how much older that I had become. I got the wrestling bug again and watched what I could (Hulu carrying WWE helped) and now watching wrestling I do understand how absurd it is, but still love it.

Wrestling is ballet with violence.

Jesse Ventura

Yes, wrestling is fake and the results are scripted, but it is entertaining. It’s the cross between a reality show, choreographed MMA and a soap opera. There are comedic and childish moments as well as serious ones. Watching it now and understanding some of the moves and how they are supposed to work to minimize damage to one another instead of making it less entertaining has actually made it more entertaining to me as of late. The skills involved to have two two hundred plus pound men throw and slam each other around and outside of a wrestling ring day after day throughout the year without killing each other is quite amazing. When thinking about a one or two minute fight scene in a movie there are hours of fight choreography that takes place in order to make it work. In most cases with wrestlers they don’t practice a match beforehand. There are usually quick walkthroughs where they discuss certain spots, but most of it is improvised on the spot with short verbal or physical cues as the only way to know what one another will be doing. All of the aspects of wrestling from it’s absurdity, imagination, energy and the spectacle are traits that makes me love America, and I’ll always be grateful for the time I spent watching it with my grandmother.


Originally posted 2017-02-08 10:00:02.

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