Professional wrestling

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Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment, in which entertainers appear to be having an athletic contest. In actuality, they are performing a script, and the bout nearly always reaches an agreed-upon outcome. It is not a real contest in the manner of sports as is amateur wrestling (and, as such, is not regulated by state sports commissions), but many bouts take a grueling toll on the participants' bodies nonetheless, and real injuries (and even deaths) have occurred.

Tragically, participants have been known to use illegal drugs and steroids in order to move up the ranks, which has resulted in early deaths due to either overdoses, weakened health, and suicides. One of the most tragic and notable involved Chris Benoit, a Canadian professional wrestler who murdered his second wife (interestingly, they had taken part in a script where they were paired together for an extended time, which resulted in a real-life marital affair after which she left her then husband for him) and their son, before killing himself. Later autopsies showed that Benoit had serious brain damage (likely the result of both chair shots to the back of his head and his signature move, a diving headbutt from the top rope) along with steroids in his system (which led to speculation that the double murder-suicide was the result of "roid rage").


Professional wrestling got its start on the county fair circuits, where collegiate wrestlers used to put on fights for paying audiences. Eventually, the trade began to develop into a profitable business. With stars now worth millions of dollars, the violence and danger was slowly replaced with theatrical combat, allowing wrestlers to appear multiple times a day and perform several times a week without suffering serious injury.

For most of the twentieth century, professional wrestling was portrayed to the viewing public as 'real', often despite featuring laughably outlandish characters and obvious fakery; in this form it could at one point be seen as deceitful and thus inconsistent with Christian values. However, after state sports commissions sought to regulate the events (as they do with boxing and mixed martial arts), promoters came clean about the "scripted" nature of the events, which took them outside of regulation. Even so, the overwhelming majority of fans always understood that it wasn't real, but still watched in appreciation of the entertainment value, athletic prowess and sometimes humor on display, though in more recent years it involves adult humor not suitable for families (thus it is featured almost exclusively on cable channels).

The largest professional wrestling promotion has been World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). WWE has sought respectability since 2003 by sponsoring an annual "Tribute to the Troops" performance at a military base which is also broadcast on television. Mainstream media figures, such as Katie Couric, the Muppets,[1] and Barack Obama[2] made cameo appearances on the 2012 show to lend credibility to what would otherwise appear to be fake performances. Conservative Governor Robert McDonnell also appeared on the program but distanced himself by telling the troops "to laugh with the WWE."[3] Other major promotions include All Elite Wresting (AEW), Ring of Honor (now owned by the same company owning AEW), the National Wrestling Alliance (which was originally the predominant organization, in its heyday organized into "territories"), Impact Wrestling, Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide (AAA) and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) (two Mexican-based organizations which feature the high-flying lucha libre style) and Japanese promotions All Japan Pro Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling (known for its "strong style" which features stiff, hard body blows) and Pro Wrestling Noah, and many regional promotions exist throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe and Australia.