15 Jan 2018

Elephant in the Ring: sport or theatre?

From Summer Times, 9:30 am on 15 January 2018

Professional wrestling is a worldwide phenomenon, but for those outside the fan base, the concept of a scripted competition and predetermined winner can seem pointless.

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Photo: Pexels

Ethan Moore from the Auckland University of Technology dived into New Zealand's wrestling scene to find out what the wrestlers put in to, and what the fans get out of, this quirky sport.

“People go – isn’t that fake? You tell them it’s fake and then they question why you do it,” says pro wrestler James Shaw.

“I always just reply, well do you enjoy movies?

“It’s just the same thing. It’s a form of entertainment that we put on and people enjoy.

“The winning and losing side of it … doesn’t matter, as long as the crowd is entertained.

Wrestlers’ day jobs range from police officers and teachers to supermarket employees and charity workers, he says, but when they’re in the ring they take on a new character.

“Some of the nicest people play the most evil characters,” says Shaw.