Is it a sport, or is it theater?
Everyone knows about professional wrestling these days. The founder of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Vince McMahon, has knocked it into pop culture of this country with a metal folding chair to back of the head. Several of his brood of brutish men and gorgeous women have parlayed their success on WWE Raw, SmackDown, and Wrestlemania into success as actors models and even politicians.
No, I’m serious…Jesse "The Body" Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1994. Look it up.
Anyway, the rowdy and raucous WWE made it’s wild presence known to Tulsa fans on Monday night bringing the WWE Superstars and WWE Raw wrestlers to the amazing BOK Center for a national TV broadcast. Having never seen a spectacle like a professional wrestling match…at least on the magnitude of a WWE card…I met the challenge of witnessing the spectacle of the event for what it was: theater
It took just one wrestler to convince me that this had nothing to do with the sport that was brought forth by the ancient Greeks. The first wrestler to emerge from the huge stage was Alberto Del Rio, who clearly was the "bad guy".
To use the literary/theatrical term, an "antagonist".
I say this because his introduction was met with a chorus of booing from the near-capacity, banner waving crowd and upon climbing into the ring he decided to address the crowd in Spanish. Not to take this review of a light-hearted event like the WWE (yeah, I said it) in a political direction, but it was a bit of sad commentary on the state of relations between our country and Mexico. I digress, of course. On to the chaos, mayhem and violence.
The show was divided into two acts. The first was the WWE Superstars, which was the under card and consisted of three matches. Alberto Del Rio and Gold Dust went first with Del Rio taking the first match, Yoshi Tatsu and Primo had the second, which was won by Primo, and The Hart Dynasty and The Uso’s locked up in a tag team match with the Hart Dynasty coming out on top. Those matches paved the way for WWE Raw, and the big names of the show. It was readily apparent that the WWE took it’s cues from major musical acts like KISS as the wrestlers entered from the stage area awash in dazzling light and pyrotechnic displays and LOUD music.
In the end, though, this is not opera, or the philharmonic. It’s professional wrestling. In and of itself it is intended to be entertainment and not picked apart like one would when reviewing a movie or a CD or an art exhibit. Some might be critical of the WWE as a show that appeals to the blue-collar, beer drinking redneck crowd, but it’s appeal is a little deeper than that. Observing the crowd prior to the doors opening there was int interesting mix of people waiting in the hot Oklahoma sun there was a mix of people from the aforementioned good ol’ boy set, but over near the door were some uncomfortable-looking older people dressed in golf shirts and summer attire. Age wise the crowd ran the gamut. You had small children accompanied by their parents, teenagers trying to avoid their parents, and young adults. This melange combined to fill the BOK Center to near overflowing.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
So the WWE is not what one would call a "cultured" form of entertainment. So what. It’s fun, and laugh if you must but the wrestlers are laughing with you.
All the way to the bank.