Real heroes, fake sport

Justin Prakaiphetkul, Asst. Sports Editor

With the deaths of adored wrestling legends such as The Ultimate Warrior, Dusty Rhodes and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper over the past three years, I feel as though it is time to get something off my chest.

There is no denying that professional wrestling is fake. The promos are scripted, the wrestlers do not actually want to maim each other and the finish is predetermined. Yet, we must acknowledge the impact that professional wrestling has had on the world and the wrestlers that made it possible.

Thanks to wrestlers such as Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, professional wrestling has been a cultural phenomenon for several decades. During their respective peaks, these wrestlers dominated headlines internationally and brought the business to new heights.

Sammartino, who held the WWE championship for a record 2,083 days, sold out Madison Square Garden a record 187 times. Hogan, with his gimmick of being an American “hero,” inspired an entire generation of children across the world to say their prayers and eat their vitamins. Austin, who was a leading force of arguably the most popular era in professional wrestling history- the “Attitude Era”- accounted for more than half of all the merchandise sold by the WWE in 1998.

To this day, WWE’s Monday Night Raw remains one of the most watched weekly television shows, consistently averaging around the two to three million viewer mark.

With weekly events throughout the year, by no means is professional wrestling an easy job. Wrestlers travel from city to city on a nightly basis to perform in front of thousands of fans. They spend years perfecting the execution of moves in order to not only avoid serious injuries, but to also make them look as intimidating as possible.

When I think of a wrestler who has sacrificed his own body multiple times in order to entertain fans, Mick Foley fondly comes to mind. From having his ear partially torn off to falling off a 16 foot tall steel cage, Foley has sacrificed his life for the entertainment of the fans.

Another popular name that falls into the category of wrestlers who have sustained multiple serious injuries is Daniel Bryan. For half of his life, in various promotions such as Ring of Honor and the WWE, Bryan has put his personal safety on the line with his high-flying style of wrestling.

Last year, Bryan was forced to retire due to the fact that WWE doctors refused to clear him to wrestle. The next day, in an interview with ESPN, Bryan revealed that he had suffered 10 documented concussions over his 17-year career. Bryan also divulged that he had sustained post-concussion seizures in the past due to a chronic lesion in his temporoparietal region.

Even though wrestlers know that just one misstep could lead to a life altering injury, they continue to perform at the best of their abilities possible every time they step into the ring in order to give the fans a memorable experience.

There is nothing wrong with calling professional wrestling for what it is: fake. However, its impact cannot go unnoticed as one of history’s biggest sources of entertainment and the wrestlers that put their lives on the line year after year should be revered.