Professional wrestling is a form of performance art where the participants engage in simulated sporting matches in the boxing-like ring. In essence, pro wrestling is a circus performance, a peculiar acrobatic clownery, which represents human relations in the hypertrophied and grotesque forms by means of "wrestling in the ring".
Originating as such, in the days of traveling carnival shows, professional wrestling's humbler beginnings include strongman feats, hook wrestling (catch wrestling, short for catch-as-catch-can wrestling) and other acrobatic performances. Some time ago, these performances were called just "catch".
For over a century, professional wrestling promoters and performers claimed that the competition was completely real (rather than staged or worked) vehemently defended "secrets of the trade" (the secret consists in staged scenarios known as "kayfabe" - a wrestler who breaks kayfabe often sees his career suffer for it).
Any pretense of sporting competition was officially dropped in the late 1990s, when Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (WWF) began more often describing its events as "sports entertainment," along with a formal change of moniker to World Wrestling Entertainment (although the name change was in response to a lawsuit from the World Wildlife Fund against the World Wrestling Federation over the rights to the initials "WWF" in the United Kingdom, the increasing use of the term "entertainment" leading up to the suit's resolution seemed to explain McMahon's willingness to change the name).
Pro wrestling bouts are definitely "simulated" but in this context, it does not mean "faked." While the outcomes are predetermined, the maneuvers rehearsed (sometimes ad-libbed by experienced, or quick wrestlers) and executed cooperatively, and their effects upon the opponent exaggerated, most moves still cause genuine pain (and if performed incorrectly, are capable of causing serious injury). They also involve knowledge and skill in gymnastic sports such as weight lifting and tumbling (floor gymnastics, similar to somersault, backhandsprings, and cartwheels), as well as a variety of stunt work techniques performed live and without benefit of backup safety devices such as those used in filmmaking. Matches whose results are predetermined (the vast majority) are called "worked.". The final result of a match is pre-determined by "bookers" to maximize "heel heat" for the bad guy and "(baby)face heat" for the good guy, often in the context of a long-running "feud" or storyline. There are also tweeners, characters who are portrayed as being morally neutral or ambiguous (that is, they are between a face and a heel).
Typically, the wrestlers will work out some signature "spots" marking key moments in the match in advance. During the match, the move sequences and transitions are improvised with the participants "calling spots" to each other to inform them of their next up-coming move. The referee is also often involved in executing the match to schedule and dealing with unforeseen circumstances.
The vast majority of bleeding incidents in wrestling are "real," and are typically induced by using hidden razor blades to cut oneself on the forehead; the act of cutting is known in the business and among fans as blading, and bleeding is known as juicing. If a wrestler bleeds without being cut, such as due to an accidental broken nose, he is said to be juicing hardway. If a wrestler hits another wrestler harder than he should on purpose, that is called "stiff,""being stiff," a "potato" or "potato shot."
The organizations that schedule and produce professional wrestling performances and known as wrestling promotions. Currently, the only major wrestling organizations left in North America are the United States promotions of World Wrestling Entertainment - WWE (former WWF), the National Wrestling Alliance - NWA, and Total Nonstop Action, a former NWA member that is still loosely linked to that organization; and the Mexican "lucha libre" promotions "Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre" and "Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion". Of these, WWE is by far the largest and most influential throughout the world. While these organizations are the most prominent and popular, there are many other smaller, regional promotions known as indies. Outside North America, there are other federations throughout Europe and also in Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean. Promotion companies often merge, split and change names.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is the most known in America pro wrestling federation. There are women there too. Some time ago, the current owner made a few very substantial changes in the company policy. The main one was that the federation admitted that professional wrestling is a show playing according to a scenario and all "violence" on the ring is nothing but an imitation. At first glance, it was a strange step but it was a genius step. By opening "cards", he achieved the impossible thing – the bulk of "average Americans" demonstrated their interest to the show. Some of them didn’t watch pro wrestling because of its "cruelty". Others scornfully considered vain attempts of wrestlers to be a chicanery. Admitting the fact of "imitation" of fights, the owner killed two birds by one shot. He managed to convince public that professional wrestling might be a family show. "Come to watch a bright and dramatic show other than "cruel fights". And take kids with you" – which did it’s job. The show that used to be considered as inappropriate for children’s eyes all the sudden became tremendously popular among teenagers. As a matter of fact, souvenirs, clothes, music and movies comes along with teenagers.
Today WWE is a very profitable and successful company. Besides numerous live shows, they have the regular weekly show on TV and professional scenario writers create scenarios for them. WWF "wrestlers" are as popular and recognizable as Hollywood stars. Many of them make millions on commercials. All of this is a prize for the company, which got a legitimate status to this show.
Professional wrestling in Japan
Professional wrestling, especially female wrestling is very popular in Japan and other Far Eastern countries. Matches may be organized as one-to-one or two-to-two "competition". Japanese matches are distinguished by dynamics and acrobatic skills. Some bouts imitate real no holds barred fights.
Unlike the American pro wrestling styles, in Japanese professional wrestling women participate mostly as fighters. Japanese pro wrestling is called Asian wrestling or "Joshi Puroresu" - an abbreviated term of "purofesshonaru resuringu" ("Western-style professional wrestling" in Japanese). After several failed attempts by several promoters, Rikidozan made the sport popular beginning in 1951, shortly after World War II.
What makes puroresu different from the lucha libre style in Mexico and the "American" style is the fact that it is performed in more realistic manner. Puroresu also uses very complex submission maneuvers as well as high-flying aerial attacks. Pro-wrestlers in Japan are also famous for "working stiff," i.e. not pulling their punches and kicks. Puroresu also differs from American pro wrestling in that the wrestlers are treated more like legitimate athletes than sports entertainers. During interviews, puroresu stars tend to speak normally rather than use catchphrases and other mannerisms associated with their gimmicks, much like interviews conducted with boxers and soccer players. Classification of wrestlers into faces and heels depends on the promotion; most American- and Mexican-style faces and heels can be seen in the independents, although New Japan allows for them, though without, or with little of, the "rulebreaking" often seen in US or Mexican promotions. A good Japanese wrestler can be considered a tweener because, whereas he or she relies on the fan's admiration, this admiration comes from how much they are realistically into the match.
The simulated nature of professional wrestling is only one of the many differences it has with traditional wrestling. Other differences can be found by looking at the supposed "rules" of pro wrestling.
The referee has ultimate control in any match, and has so much authority that a decision reversal can only be made by the referee involved in the match; even the promotion owner (usually) has no influence over this decision. Of course, even this "rule" is subject to modification, depending on current storylines within the promotion. A "motto" in the pro wrestling world used to describe the interpretation of the rules (actually more like loose guidelines) is: "You can't call what you can't see", implying that anything is justified as long as the referee doesn't see. This is often used as a plot twist to drastically change the momentum in a match. One of the more well-known occurrences has a referee getting "accidentally" knocked senseless or thrown outside of the ring. While he's stunned, one wrestler, usually a face, will suddenly have the match won, only to then have it robbed from them via outside interference, a foreign object, or some other unfair means. The referee, unaware of what happened, will recover just in time to notice a pin that reflects the new situation, and make an effortful three-count.
A match can be "won" by pinfall, submission, count-out (long being out of the ring), disqualification, or failure to answer a ten count. Punching is permitted as long as the wrestler's fist is open. You may only kick with the flat part of the foot, and "low blow" only refers to actually striking the crotch. If either wrestler is in contact with the ropes, all contact between the wrestlers must be broken before the count of five. This strategy is used very often in order to escape from a submission hold, and also, more seldom, a wrestler can place his foot on the ropes to avoid losing by pinfall.
In fact, pro-wrestling "rules" are just a conventionality, pretending following the game rules. At different times, different promotions had significantly different "rules."
Roles assigned to women in American wrestling
In contemporary American pro wrestling, women usually played important but "auxiliary" roles - they "provoke a fight", inspire and egg on wrestlers; "help" them by jumping into the ring and interfering with male wrestlers; argue with wrestlers, referee, and each other. Besides, women's matches happen as well - promotions have been using women as "managers" or wrestlers for years.
There are roles usually played by women:
A wrestler. From the beginning of American pro wrestling women appeared in the ring as wrestlers, even though "word fighting" prevailed. However, many female pro wrestlers are listed in the "Hall of fame".
A valet. A manager is a non-wrestler character who is paired with a wrestler. A manager usually tends to be male; female managers are usually called valets. In kayfabe, a manager is somewhat like an agent for an actor or an athlete; he helps his client to book matches and promotional appearances, and otherwise to further his career. Outside of storylines, a manager's job is to generate heat and to help get the wrestler he's paired with get over. Sometimes managers or valets come into the ropes and begin a "two-on-two match".
A diva is a relatively new term used by the "World Wrestling Entertainment" for a beautiful woman employed primarily as eye candy and sometimes as a wrestler. The term seems to apply retroactively to wrestling "valets" such as Miss Elizabeth or Madusa. Miss Elizabeth (Elizabeth Hulette) or "The First Lady of Wrestling", was a WWE figure and, for a short time, female wrestler. She gained fame during the late 1980s. On May 1, 2003 in age of 43, she died under unclear circumstances - subsequent autopsy showed that she died of an accidental drug overdose mixing the medications with vodka. Madusa (Debra Ann Miceli), born February 6, 1964 in Milan, better known as or Alundra Blayze, is a former professional wrestler for WCW and WWF.
A stunt granny is an obvious plant (trained wrestler who poses as a fan, usually seated in the front row of an event.). Sometimes, these plants are elderly women who are hired by a wrestling promoter to "heckle" heel wrestlers.
Some forms of spicy (non-classic) professional wrestling women's matches.
Bra and Panties Match. A match between two (usually) women in which the winner is the first to strip her opponent down to her bra and panties.
Buck Naked Match. A match between two (usually) women in which the winner is the first to strip her opponent of all clothing, leaving her completely naked in the ring. Usually, lights go out before anything is seen.
Catfight. A match between two women, where the object is to throw one's opponent over the top rope to the floor.
Evening Gown Match. A match between two women in evening gowns; the winner is the first to remove her opponent's gown. In practice, the end result is usually the same as in a Bra and Panties Match. However, sometimes women strip to their undergarments before wrestling started; the match then proceeds as a normal match with no further undressing. (Sometimes done with Kimonos instead of gowns, then referred to as a Kimono Match)
Pillow Fight. A match between two women in which pillows and a bed are placed in the ring. The pillows may be used as weapons, and standard wrestling rules apply, although this kind of match ordinarily features little to no wrestling.
Women in Japanese wrestling
Joshi puroresu (female wrestling) is distinguished from male puroresu. Female wrestling in Japan is usually handled by promotions that specialize in joshi puroresu, rather than divisions of otherwise male-dominated promotions as is the case in the United States (like FMW, a men's promotion which had a small women's division). However, joshi puroresu promotions usually have agreements with male puroresu promotions such that they recognize each other's titles as legitimate, and may share cards.
Professional wrestling is one of the most profitable types of show business. There is traditional limited set of subjects demonstrating in professional wrestling.
If you are not a pro wrestling habitue, you can describe actions on the ring as followed: Fancy colored robust guys and gals common familiar to the public solemnly walk out into the ring. They yell threats to their opponents and lots fans crowd around. Usually, female wrestlers have well-fed bodies but they are active, skilled and friskily jumping and tumbling.
"Bouts" are holding unhurriedly, "holds" and "strikes" (very dramatized) are delivered steadily and slowly. "Fighting" is accompanied by irate appeals to the public and a referee (sometimes he is happened to be beaten), members of "support groups" and team members run into the ring. Sometimes wrestlers fall out the ring, then fighting continue outside of the ring accompanying chair overturning and spectators’ squeal. Limited techniques are demonstrated in professional wrestling: jumping onto ring ropes and jumping down from there just onto a lying opponent (of course. He or she patiently waits for it); running broad back jump on the ropes and springy rebound back to the opponent (and he or she again is holding); "trampling" an opponent down by legs and "cruel" punching, etc. At the same time, good acrobatic skills are required from wrestlers and ability precisely controlling all moves because many of them are potentially dangerous. Each participant of such a show must have his/her own face distinctive and play a distinctive role and a nickname corresponding to it. In this grotesque show struggle between good and evil is represented – "good" (face) and "bad" (heel) guys and gals.
Pictures with famous professional wrestlers flood the market, everyone (especially kids and teenagers) knows their names. One of them having the nickname "Body" even became a governor of the state of Minnesota in the USA.
The major pro wrestling promotions have the lion’s share of TV time, the widest broadcast and the most profitable contracts. In fact, they have women divisions but their understanding of female professional wrestling is not acceptable for old fans of the traditional show who remember if not Mildred Burke but al least Penny Banner. Even men’s pro wrestling in these "federations" transformed into an unconcealed farce and women’s pro wrestling reduced to the level of bad "catfighting" – mass striptease and helpless tumbling on the ring. There have a few quite good "wrestlers": Madusa, Mona Madness, etc. But the "federations" use them just for teaching their "silicon" beauties. The only preserves keeping the "old good" female pro wrestling, where at least wrestling actions look like wrestling are independent (indy) federations/clubs/teams. One of the most known is PGWA (Professional Girl's Wrestling Association). There is another female pro wrestling media resource - "G.L.O.R.Y. Wrestling". It is the premier online resource for information, news about the hardest working women in today's professional wrestling scene. It profiles a lot of the hottest and most-talented female wrestlers, managers and valets working the rings of North America, Europe and Australia.
Some people who first time see a professional wrestling show are terrified by imaginary cruelty and danger of this "combative" activity. As the matter of fact, it’s not more dangerous that circus acrobatics, and, in fact, pro wrestling is a form of it.
Due to the term, "professional wrestling" is the traditional and stable name of this incredibly popular show, attempting to search in WEB for keywords "wrestling", "women wrestling" leads to getting the enormous number of sites dedicated to pro wrestling and to other pseudo-combat shows.
Match in the "Ladies Professional Wrestling Association" (LPWA) Videoclip
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