The ‘F’ is out.

Brian Borden

Brian Borden

Under a new name, but with the same attitude, the World Wrestling Federation “Got the F out” this past spring and became World Wrestling Entertainment (thanks to that “other” WWF, the World Wildlife Fund, but we won’t go there).

Hopefully any wrestling fan you meet knows that the outcomes of the matches are predetermined. I find nothing more annoying than when someone I’ve just met asks me, “You know it’s fake right?” Yes, yes I do know and yet that doesn’t bother me. World Wrestling Entertainment will never be considered a “real sport” as our dear sports editor Charlie Maricle pointed out a few weeks ago in this very space, but that is not the point. Professional wrestling is not a sport–it’s sports entertainment, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment are athletes of the highest caliber, just because they are actually competing for the win doesn’t mean they don’t work hard. They endure a grueling schedule, spending over 200 days a year on the road as they travel from arena to arena to entertain the fans they care about. Just like in “real” sports, wrestlers suffer injures and often times “play hurt” in their effort to go out and entertain like only they can do.

WWE commentator Jim Ross summed this up pretty well with his comments on one of the WWE shows, “I find it amazing that sometimes fans and cynics, especially in the media will say, ‘Well you know these guys know how to fall.’ But I defy anyone to tell me how someone learns to fall on concrete.” Ross further added, “I don’t think there’s anything in the world quite like the WWE as far as the physical toll it takes on an athlete.”

The key difference between wrestling and a sport like baseball is that in addition to being great athletes, the stars of the WWE have to be great entertainers as well. Wrestling is best described as a “male soap opera” and without the ability to “cut a promo” or give a good interview to increase interest in an upcoming match, a pro wrestler will not make it very far in the business. WWE Chairman Vince McMahon has described the company’s programs as part reality show, part rock show, part Comedy Central and part publicity stunt. The great thing about the WWE is it takes all the good things from pretty much every form of entertainment combines them into one great show. Why watch a sitcom, a drama, a reality show or a sport when you can get all of them and more rolled into one nice two-hour block twice a week?

As I already mentioned, World Wrestling Entertainment is the top-rated regularly scheduled program on cable each week with WWE RAW on the New TNN. They also have other shows on TNN and MTV including Velocity and Heat, which feature more original matches. WWE holds its own on network television as well with Thursday night’s WWE SmackDown!–the highest rated show on UPN. Granted, being the top-rated show on UPN might not be difficult, but it’s still saying something.

To sum everything up, I recall a David Letterman Top Ten List from 1998. As Dave went through the “Top Ten Reasons The United States is The Best Country on The Face of The Earth” one them was simply, “Three glorious words: ‘World Wrestling (Entertainment).'” I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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