It’s no secret that professional wrestling is ‘fake’. The action is staged and there’s no real competition. Many people scoff at but the issue lies here. Nobody who is a hardened fan of wrestling will ever tell you that the action is ‘real’. It’s a TV Show just as much as Breaking Bad. The reason we watch wrestling is because this is the only ‘fake’ act that can feel incredibly real.

Professional wrestling is the attempt to portray an exaggerated form of wrestling. Unlike the Olympics, where all wrestlers are generic athletes representing their countries, professional wrestling comes with gimmicks, acts, story lines a whole lot more. Unlike the Olympics, where athletes compete for sporting glory, professional wrestling pits wrestlers against each for very personal feuds. People are not representing countries here (although some gimmicks make that part of the story line). People are fighting for themselves in story lines that make you pick sides just as much you picked a side in the Battle of the Bastards, where some of us backed Jon and some Ramsay. Just that in wrestling, the characters are a lot more relatable and that is where the beauty begins.

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The action is certainly ‘fake’. The moves are designed to not hurt much while looking incredibly painful and any wrestler worth his salt will make every move look agonizing (the act of ‘selling’ a move). But within the confines of a ‘fake match’, the wrestlers tell a story.

Let’s take a look.

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were once best friends. They grew up together and worked together in the independent scene before getting to the WWE. Once there, Zayn climbed the ladders faster than Owens and became the NXT Champion. Jealous of his best friend’s success, an enraged Owens attacked Zayn, injuring him and forcing him to vacate his title. Zayn was out for months because of his injury.

Upon his return, Zayn was hell-bent on revenge and the two collided several times with a rivalry that culminated at the WWE Battleground event earlier on in the year. In the match, which Zayn won, several moments gave away the complicated nature of their relationship.

At one point, when Owens is down on his knees, Zayn looks down at him in disgust yet he is not able to completely finish Owens off. Zayn stands there for a while, looking at his former friend.

At that moment, my friend, it does not matter if the kick Zayn did just a while ago did not hurt as much as it looked like it did. The story being told creates a suspension of disbelief and absorbs you much better than any TV Show because while being fake, wrestling still gives off the vibe that it is real and that the characters are real people.

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Wrestling’s life blood in the modern era has been gimmicks, the personalities that wrestlers portray on screen that gets people to relate to them. One of the most famous wrestling gimmicks of all time was that of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, a disrespectful anti-hero who pulled no punches, hated the establishment, repeatedly hit his boss, the antagonistic Mr. McMahon, and showed middle fingers to society.

Austin was an exaggerated version of the rebel we all want to be. Almost all of us has hated our bosses at some point in our lives and wanted to leave society behind. Austin did all of that with his larger than life personality and he instantly became one of the biggest cultural icons of the 90’s.

At the end of the day, wrestling was never really only about the matches. The minute non-fans start to understand that is the day this crazy form of entertainment will start to make more sense to them.


by Rayaan Ibtesham Chowdhury