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None but ourselves
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
They are one and the same. This McMahon made distinction has been batted around for so long that not only does Vince seem to have convinced himself of his marketting line but seemingly most fans today talk of wrestling and entertainment as two separate entities. Here's why they're not.

The obvious: wrestling IS entertainment. There is nothing more entertaining in the WWE or any promotion than the in ring action. When are the crowds most entertained? When are they loudest and most excited? During dance offs? During backstage skits? During electrifying Rock promos? No, during big time well performed matches that they care about - the Triple Threat title match at TLC, Undertaker's Streak defences, Daniel Bryan vs anybody (except maybe Kane). Noise levels speak for themselves, fevered "THIS IS AWESOME" chants tell the story, great matches are the height of entertainment for all fans.

The less obvious: Vince brands his WWF/E as 'sports entertainment' and WCW/NWA/territory promotions as 'pro wrestling' but 'pro wrestling' contained all of the 'sports entertainment' elements as well!

I've seen forum members speak about talking segments and wrestling being different approaches to the business and they're absolutely not. Whether it's Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, and The Rock or its Ric Flair, Harley Race and Dusty Rhodes, pro wrestling is built around fueds, angles and characters that are established through promos. This Russo perpetuated idea that *wrestling* fans just want to see Dean Malenko vs Dean Malenko exchanging holds for 2 hours is baseless - it's always been about promos AND matches.

Perhaps people think of the backstage and 'out of the ring' segments, well that was part of NWA/territory promotions too. The 80s was full of music videos shot in the streets (including the Bad Street), we had Kevin Sullivan's Army of Darkness (years before Undertaker was sacrificing folks) on a beach with a supernatural man walking out of the ocean.

I'll try not to sabotage my post by making it too long but the list goes on and on so I'll ask you mostly fine people: if you think there's a distinction between pro wrestling an sports entertainment then specifically what is it that exists in the latter but not the former?

My conclusion, helped along by great wrestling minds (wrestlers and historians) is that they're interchangeable terms to describe the same thing. Vince wanted to rebrand is product as family entertainment in the 80s to get booked in venues that didn't want wrestling as they knew it and 30 years later, he's believing his own marketting bullshit. If Ted was in the "wrasslin'" business then you should be able to easily identify WCW Nitro as pro wrestling and WWF RAW as sports entertainment - watching them side by side, they're clearly not different genres--just different promotions.

TL;DR: skim read.
 

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Matters made worse when Vince changed his company from the World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment and to recently just referring it as WWE. WWE no longer meaning World Wrestling Entertainment, just means WWE. An abbreviation with no meaning.
 

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From what I gather, Vince is a northerner and wanted to disassociate himself with the stigma the public had attached to southern "wrasslin'," which he seemed to view as a carny, backwater, hillbilly attraction. He wanted to attract (in his opinion) a more respectable audience and achieve more mainstream acceptance.

Now that he owns the only company 99% of people seeking wrestling have easy access to, I'd say it would be a good time to consider "taking back" the term 'wrestling.' WWE pretty much dictates what wrestling is today, so there's no reason not to address themselves as such.

Good post, by the way.
 

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Considering the fact that the audience loves to chant 'ONE, TWO, THREE' near the end of a match, I agree. They also go nuts when a superstar hits their signature or finisher, or goes through the steps of their five moves of doom.
 

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Wrestling is just a means to resolve a feud. The characters/storylines are the main attraction, or at least should be.

What made the attitude era so good? The characters and storylines. The matches on RAW were short and full of interferences, which kept people on their toes.

The matches you listed were all at PPV's. Having long matches at PPV's is perfectly fine. But RAW should primarily be used for character development and progressing stories.
 

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None but ourselves
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wrestling is just a means to resolve a feud. The characters/storylines are the main attraction, or at least should be.

What made the attitude era so good? The characters and storylines. The matches on RAW were short and full of interferences, which kept people on their toes.

The matches you listed were all at PPV's. Having long matches at PPV's is perfectly fine. But RAW should primarily be used for character development and progressing stories.
In reverse order: those were PPV matches because naturally (or certainly ideally) they should be the biggest, most exciting matches but any good match can and should have the crowd highly entertained. I don't know that you're actually disagreeing with my premise so I'll reiterate it for clarity's sake: the time at which the audience is most entertained is during good matches. When Vince/fans distinguish between wrestling and entertainment it, consciously or otherwise, suggests that wrestling is not entertaining.

If you say "you've got to have some wrestling but you've got to mix in some entertainment too", meaning "mix in some backstage skits, dance offs etc.", you're suggesting that people will be entertained by those more so than matches. Again, nobody wants matches without either backstory, something on the line (contendership, championship, elevating one's career etc.) but those matches when done well are the most entertaining thing on the show. Matches on RAW/Smackdown are often not remotely entertaining not because they're wrestling matches but because they're meaningless and lack those said elements.

To your first point, I don't personally see how you can have the storylines and characters without matches - they build the hunger and the wrestling is the meal that satisfies the desire to eat. I couldn't call a great meal "just a means to resolve hunger, the hunger is the main attraction" because without the eventual meal the hunger couldn't exist; it'd just be people arguing and going nowhere. Maybe we're just making the same point from different approaches but to me the attraction IS the resolution and all else builds anticipation to that.

Back to the main point of the post though, can anybody specify what defines 'sports entertainment' that did not already exist in what Vince calls 'pro wrestling'? I think there's a great misconception that NWA/territory wrestling was nothing but grappling with no promos or storylines.
 

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In reverse order: those were PPV matches because naturally (or certainly ideally) they should be the biggest, most exciting matches but any good match can and should have the crowd highly entertained. I don't know that you're actually disagreeing with my premise so I'll reiterate it for clarity's sake: the time at which the audience is most entertained is during good matches. When Vince/fans distinguish between wrestling and entertainment it, consciously or otherwise, suggests that wrestling is not entertaining.

If you say "you've got to have some wrestling but you've got to mix in some entertainment too", meaning "mix in some backstage skits, dance offs etc.", you're suggesting that people will be entertained by those more so than matches. Again, nobody wants matches without either backstory, something on the line (contendership, championship, elevating one's career etc.) but those matches when done well are the most entertaining thing on the show. Matches on RAW/Smackdown are often not remotely entertaining not because they're wrestling matches but because they're meaningless and lack those said elements.

To your first point, I don't personally see how you can have the storylines and characters without matches - they build the hunger and the wrestling is the meal that satisfies the desire to eat. I couldn't call a great meal "just a means to resolve hunger, the hunger is the main attraction" because without the eventual meal the hunger couldn't exist; it'd just be people arguing and going nowhere. Maybe we're just making the same point from different approaches but to me the attraction IS the resolution and all else builds anticipation to that.

Back to the main point of the post though, can anybody specify what defines 'sports entertainment' that did not already exist in what Vince calls 'pro wrestling'? I think there's a great misconception that NWA/territory wrestling was nothing but grappling with no promos or storylines.
Good matches are entertaining, yes, I agree with that. For example the triple threat at the rumble was an action packed all round entertaining match. But by 'entertainment', I think when Vince or anyone brands the WWE that, they're trying to say that the WWE isn't a pure out and out wrestling company. Just like your Malenko example. It's a show with the bright lights, the flashy characters and soap opera esque stories.

Anyway to my point, what I'm trying to say is the build up, i.e. the character development, story etc matter more so than the actual wrestling. By that I don't mean there should be no matches, because there should. But like I said, the match is just a means to resolve the story.

Another example. I dislike it when people say 'so and so will have a great match at WM'. Why? Because the actual match itself doesn't matter. Where's the story? Why are they feuding? That's what really matters. If the WWE want to reach the mainstream audience again, then they'll have focus on the 'entertainment' aspect again, just like they did in the AE. Casual fans want to see flashy characters, gimmicks, skits and a good story. They want to be kept on the the edge of their seats with things that wow them. Only hardcore wrestling fans will like/want a product that focuses mainly on wrestling.
 

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I’ll give you an answer.

Pro wrestling feels real.

Sports entertainment feels fake.

To me that’s the crux of the argument.

Pro wrestling and sports entertainment should really be considered one and the same, but they’re not because of how a fan feels towards the product. This is largely attributed to the fact that kayfabe is dead, but the answer to getting people invested in watching the show when kayfabe is dead is to write better stories, not stuff that feels corny. That’s how you deal with the reality of going from sport to sports theatre. But this revelation that pro wrestling is theatre means that the ringwork can also be used as a storytelling device, and as our tastes change, we go from watching over the top storylines and theatrics to something that feels more real and like a sport, while still retaining the knowledge that what we are watching is not a real competition, but an athletic and artistic display.
 

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To me, branding the product as pro-wrestling implies one is trying to sell a scripted product as legit competition. On the other hand, branding it sports-entertainment allow one to capture the essence of the product itself and don't feel like one is trying to sell the product as something it is not.

Selling pro-wrestling to sports network around the world and you have to keep overcoming the stigma of 'it isn't real!' constantly. Selling it as 'sports-entertainment' gives the product a spot on sports network and the understanding that the product is scripted. It has sports in the name, yet is not hiding the fact that it is scripted. You watch to be entertained, not watching to find out who is the winner of a competition.

Why sell only to sports channels/networks globally? The competition is less intense there than entertainment channels who have vastly more options. Sporting network also have more airtime to fill and pro-wrestling fills a role of being a reliable ratings draw for taped shows in dead time.

My 2 cents.
 

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Back to the main point of the post though, can anybody specify what defines 'sports entertainment' that did not already exist in what Vince calls 'pro wrestling'? I think there's a great misconception that NWA/territory wrestling was nothing but grappling with no promos or storylines.
Can see OP's pov when mention Entertainment and NWA/territories and the nearest difference I see is that Vince was first promoter to 'break the rules' of NWA by putting on his promotions within territories that, in those days, were exclusive to fixed company promotions (probably an inaccurate geographic example but gets overall point over - Memphis wrestling wouldn't have Georgia promotions and vice versa); but Vince went ahead and did promote outside NWA (Northeast) states/territories.
The Entertainment aspect came when Vince, who had done concert promotions as experience of arena bookings before doing wrestling, used that aspect in his early promotions and even created wrestling feud angles with Music entertainers which, correct me if I'm wrong, was never done before?
Then came WM 1 at MSG and, besides featuring Mr T with Hogan, Vince booked performers to sing and, wasn't Cyndi Lauper involved also or was that a later WM(?), this 'PPV' event was a first to be televised nationally thus creating the 'Pro Wrestling/Entertainment' (Entertainers/singers/actors).
In short, Vince added Entertainers to his promotions as a way to standout and grab attention from fans, media and in essence wrestlers also. WCW began doing similar 3years after WM1 when Turner bought out WCW and added his spin to the Entertainment of WCW. Eventually the other territories of NWA expanded to do as Vince had prior to WM1 and thats sign talent from outside NWA territories to compete which lead to wrestlers becoming 'free agents' or Independents/Indys.

All OP says of Entertainment can define how promotions/events are nationally/worldwide planned/scripted and choreographed to showcase matches but imo Vince meant Entertainment as in his WM being a wrestling crossed with entertainers show so as to appeal to the music fans as well plus gaining publicity on Mtv.
 
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