Wrestlemania 29 Attendance Record Proves Professional Wrestling is Real
Audiences know why Willy Loman commits suicide, at least the first line of Hamlet‘s contemplative soliloquy, and even that Batman will eventually put the bad guy to justice. Despite knowing “what will happen,” audiences are not deterred from watching the performances many times over.
Yet in the world of fandom, there isn’t a more contentious relationship than the one between non-wrestling and wrestling fans. For whatever reason, people who do not watch wrestling feel it is their God given duty to incessantly remind those who do watch–and enjoy the sport–that wrestling is “fake.” But considering the recent WrestleMania 29 broke its own gross record (they grossed $12.3 million), and MetLife Stadium’s attendance record (80,676 fans in attendance), non-wrestling fans should perhaps reconsider their ignorant stance against the sport.
While haters might equate wrestling to Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, or the Tooth Fairy, non-fans simply fail to understand that the entertainment that transpires from wrestling is undeniably real.
“I like the theater element of it,” my friend, who is an avid wrestling fan, said. “I generally know who is going to win before the match begins, so I enjoy watching the match itself: the work rate, the storytelling, the action.”
The hulking bravado and protruding muscles might attempt to disguise it, but at its core, professional wrestling is–as my friend pinpointed–theater. And with theatrics comes unrelenting, and necessary rehearsal. Unlike how a baseball player, for instance, might bulk up to hit more home runs (and thus make more money), wrestlers’ motivation is pure survival. Performing high-flying moves like a powerbomb, DDT, or choke slam could become fatal if done incorrectly. Unfortunately, there is real proof of this.
Darren Drozdov, known mostly as “Droz” in his stunted three year wrestling career, instantly became a quadriplegic as the result of a botched move. Droz sustained an irreversible neck injury while facing opponent D’Lo Brown, as neither wrestler harnessed the proper grips needed to execute the as-practiced running powerbomb.
Needless to say, Droz’s lifelong injury was not fake, just as the countless other injuries that have occurred over the years were not either. And despite birthing cultural icons like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and more recently, The Rock, “liking” wrestling is still somehow considered taboo to the non-viewing public.
Even though, by comparison, the more traditional pastimes share the exciting boilerplate of “anything could happen,” WrestleMania’s 29th year is proof that people are equally intrigued by how the predictable can be made interesting.