Friday, 13 August 2010

Has anybody actually tasted The Rock's cooking?

Sky television has recently given me a trail of their additional sports channels, and it's immediately obvious that they haven't got enough sport to warrant four dedicated channels. Sure they show a lot of football, rugby and cricket, but they eventually begin to run out of respectable sports. When you're watching teams that have names that wouldn't sound out of place in a Quidditch league you know they're scraping the bottom of the barrel. However due to a pleasant mixture of unemployment and a poor selection of daytime television I've persevered with the likes of ultimate frisbee, caber tossing and golf, and have found a sport I remember from my youth; wrestling.

Years ago my best friend and I were completely crazy about wrestling; we played the overly-complicated video games and watched pre-watershed edits of the shows. I can even remember the Golden Age of wrestling, before the pandas kicked up a fuss and the World Wrestling Federation were forced to change their name. And by coming back to wrestling a whole decade later, I can now see it for what it really is; an epilepsy inducing, pyrotechnic overloading, Nickelback-themed, wonderfully entertaining drama.

I find it strange that the first criticism that springs to mind whenever somebody mentions wrestling is that all the fighting is simulated. Really? You're telling me that muscle toting, spandex wearing, egocentric men don't come together on a weekly basis to dish out polite trash talk and do fisticuffs? If I wanted to watch thugs knock each others teeth out in front of an audience who are all wearing baseball caps and tracksuits then I'd watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship. I know this will sound like a lame porn excuse, but I don't watch wrestling for the action, I watch it for the storylines.

Recently the shows commentators have been emphasising that World Wrestling Entertainment is the longest running, weekly-episodic entertainment programme ever made. So really, wrestling should be compared to television soaps, rather than other sports. And personally, watching a spandex-clad giant kicking somebody in the face is far more enjoyable than watching old farmers in flat caps sitting in a poky rural pub complaining about technology and the introduction of decimal currency. No other programme has such outrageous action, hilarious rivalries and over the top storylines that intensify for weeks, before finally exploding into colossal battles at massively hyped pay-per-view spectacles.

My only criticism of the wrestling now is that I remember it being far more extreme when I was younger. Though I suspect the reason for this is a combination of naivety, and that nowadays less violence is permitted on screen. There also seems to be a bigger emphasis on storyline now, though when I was ten years old I probably ignored all that nonsense and focused on the people hitting each other metal chairs. I most likely thought I was being rebellious by watching wrestling, but if I had children I'd be more than happy for them watch it now. It's an enthralling drama where the respectful, honourable heroes always triumph over the cheating, deceitful villains; imagine Postman Pat elbow dropping a Teletubby and you're pretty much there.

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