The View From Down Here – Suspension Of Disbelief (Number 2)

I wrote a column some time ago where I looked at some physics in wrestling and why it just doesn’t make any sense. In the comments after said article, a few other suggestions were thrown my way, and I’ve been sort of brewing up a second column. But it’s gone beyond that, as things are wont to do at times.


So, here are a few overviews of various themes and the ways the world of wrestling may differ from the world you and I (well, at least I) inhabit.


Wrestling Physics


1. Running off the ropes before delivering a move makes the move more dangerous.

The generally accepted theory is that the recoil from the ropes rebounds the attacker, adding speed (and hence momentum) to them and so their move is more devastating. And this is fine for something like JBL’s Clothesline From Hell. But most of the time it’s something like a leg drop or elbow. The momentum from the ropes is forward; the move being delivered is done downwards (see, Hogan’s leg drop). If anything, it would make the move a glancing one.


2. Missing a top rope head butt hurts; hitting it, not so much.

You jump off the top rope and slam your head into the shoulder or head of your prone opponent. You shake your head a bit and then go for the cover. Yay! You win. But sometimes you miss, and instead of hitting that mass of solid muscle and bone – or, in the case of head to head contact, just solid bone – you hit the nice padded and rather springy ring. And yet it almost kills you and enables you to be pinned or attacked.


3. The Attitude Adjustment.

Okay, this is probably more a pet peeve than anything else, but why does it hurt so much? Samoan drop position, and instead of being dropped like a Samoan with all your weight on the person, you just flip them over onto their back, holding onto them the whole time, thus decreasing their momentum? Why should this hurt any more than, say, putting some one to bed?


4. Two people delivering a move makes it more devastating.

Sure, a suplex can hurt. Or a powerbomb. But if two people do it at the same time to the one opponent, then it must hurt more, right? Because, clearly, two people can really make gravity (which is the main thing in the move) work even more painfully.


5. The Worm.

Don’t even get me started.



Wrestling Sociology


1. Forgiveness is all-encompassing.

Last month two of them were beating the hell out of one another in the ring, this month they’re the wacky tag team partners who can’t get along, next month, they’ll be showing mutual respect, and the month after that they’re friends and save one another from beat-downs. Sure, there’s forgiveness, but forgiveness without a chance to even sort things out? Even The Bold And The Beautiful make the characters talk it out.


2. A change in alignment’ means a complete change in character.

We see it all the time – a heel becomes a good guy and suddenly all the tings he did to win matches goes out the window. He becomes a smiling doofus or a smart-talking doofus. Or maybe the good guy becomes a heel, and suddenly he becomes a coward and runs away from fights he would have taken before. It’s the Dungeons And Dragons -ification of wrestling personalities. Apart from Roddy Piper, the change from heel to face or face to heel means the old personality is wiped and a new one installed. Because that’s what it says on the character sheet.


3. Legalities are sorted out in the ring.

Let’s say, you are assaulted by a man with a sledgehammer. Or someone tries to run you over in a truck. Or someone sets you on fire. What should you do? Go to the police? Get a restraining order? See them on Judge Judy? Or… maybe you fight them in a wrestling ring, with rules and time limits, forcing yourself to get revenge by pinning his shoulders to the mat? Really?


4. Disputes with the boss are sorted in the ring.

This leads on from the previous one, but, especially in the WWE, it happens all the time – when his employees don’t like what he’s doing, they challenge Vince McMahon to a fight. No going to a board of directors, filing some sort of harassment suit, or even organising a ‘strike’ (as much as non-unionised contract workers can). They just go into the ring and beat the boss up. Of course, this can be used in real life… and this is why I no longer work…


5. The TV doesn’t exist, except when it does.

Wrestlers are athletes. They know they’re in a sport. They will go onto talk shows and look at clips. They go onto shows like ‘The Highlight Reel’ in the middle of a wrestling ring and look at clips. And yet, when something happens in the ring and they’re confused, they don’t look at clips on TVs. They assume the worst. My tag team partner hit me? It must have been deliberate, and I won’t bother watching from seventeen different camera angles that say he just missed an opponent and it really was an accident. No – it must have been deliberate. Likewise, there’s a whopping great screen above the stage. I won’t glance at it from time to time to let me know when a sneak attack is coming. It’s not breaking the fourth wall – they live and work in a televised product that they know is televised. Look at the damn TV!



Wrestling Business


1. It doesn’t matter if it loses money, using TV time to embarrass someone or something is more important than finances. See: Billionaire Ted, the InVasion angle, “that’s gonna put bums on seats”, or any other stupid decision in the past, oh, I don’t know, 60 years. Revenge is more important than money.


2. If you already have more than 6 hours of first-run television and you-tube and internet-only content that is not exactly setting the world on fire  in the ratings race, it make perfect sense to increase your flagship show to a three hour show, despite struggling to fill the time you already have. Exposure is more important than money.


3. Sometimes a champion may not draw money. Sometimes this is because the business in general is in a slump, but sometimes it is because the champion himself is such a dud as champion. So why is he still the champion? It’s because he has the right look – tall, muscular, good head of hair. The right look is more important than money.


4. Let’s just say you run a wrestling promotion. And let’s say the guy who was champion of a rival promotion until he was screwed out of the title is now yours. What do you do with this guy? How about making his first PPV appearance as a guest referee in a fight between an announcer and the company’s owner? Wasting opportunities is more important than making money.


5. There’s this wrestler who everyone except a small demographic of your viewing audience thinks is stale and is in need of a change – preferably a heel turn. But this wrestler sells a lot of merchandise, which could be in jeopardy if he turns heel. The fact that the whole company could be revitalised by this turn is negated by the fact kids buy t-shirts. So TV ratings drop, PPV buys stall, but, hey!, t-shirts are selling, so we’ll just design a new t-shirt every month. Making some money in the short term is more important than making lots of money in the long term.

(Yes, in this last one – your mileage may vary. But it’s my column and my opinion, and this is what I believe…)



So there you have it. That suspension of disbelief.


And that’s this view…


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