Opinion: A love letter to professional wrestling

Nicholas Hunter

Nicholas Hunter

I’m a fan of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Before you say it, yes, I know it’s not real – and that’s the best part.

To me, wrestling is the ultimate escape from reality. During this past election, all the wars and conflict and suffering in the world no longer existed within the walls of wrestling. That escape is what all entertainment is for. To me, WWE does it best.

I’m also a big fan of the big-budget superhero movies that have taken over movie theaters in recent years — for many of the same reasons I enjoy wrestling. It provides an escape from reality, it provides larger-than-life characters to aspire to be or despise. What makes wrestling better to me is it accomplishes this with real people.

While there can never be a real-life Superman, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one of the most popular entertainers in the entire world.

Even though wrestlers play fictional characters on television, their feats of strength and athleticism are very real. Despite the conflict being no more real than any other TV show, every flip, slam and dive is very real. For every one-handed diving catch by Odell Beckham Jr., there are five picture-perfect superkicks from WWE superstar and Kent State alum Dolph Ziggler.

Just as much as any other sport, professional wrestlers are athletes. And unlike other contact sports that only compete once a week, these men and women do what they do five nights a week. And since there is no offseason in wrestling, they do it every single week — no breaks.

The biggest criticism of wrestling is – because it’s pre-determined – there’s no excitement.

And that’s a fair argument. There is something special about a ninth-inning rally, without a doubt. But the most iconic moments in wrestling are the ones that get an organic reaction, despite the fans knowing it was all mapped out beforehand:

Hulk Hogan lifting Andre the Giant up for a body slam in 1987, The Rock having an electrifying stare down with Hogan years later, as two of wrestling’s biggest stars finally met in the ring in 2002, and Brock Lesnar ending The Undertaker’s 21-match winning streak at WWE’s biggest event of the year, WrestleMania, in 2014 are all moments that invoke awe from fans of wrestling.

For as long as I can remember, I have watched wrestling. The characters, stories, athletic feats and epic moments have always held a special place in my heart. It always has been and always will be, my escape from reality.

Nicholas Hunter is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].