Wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan tears it off. Photo by Chris Carlson/Associated Press
My Uncle Dave first introduced pro wrestling to me as this funny Saturday-morning TV show. Twenty years later, I’m a huge fan. But most people love to hate on wrestling. They think that fans — like me — are stupid, that we somehow don’t realize the whole thing is fake. Believe me, the fans are in on the con. We know the outcomes are predetermined. We’re in it solely for the entertainment.
And what entertainment there is. Soap-opera story lines are combined with incredible feats of sequined athleticism, with some pyrotechnics thrown in for good measure. “You can’t look away,” says Bryce Remsburg, a referee with Chikara, a wrestling promotion company based in Philadelphia. “It’s better than a superhero. I would rather seen Macho Man and the Ultimate Warrior than Batman and Superman.”
You’ve probably heard by now about the lawsuit filed against the WWE by two former wrestlers, Evan Singleton and Vito Lograsso, both from Pennsylvania. The complaint they filed (below) is a fascinating, brutal piece of reading that alleges that many of the league’s wrestlers have suffered brain damage and even committed suicide because of the damage they’ve suffered during matches.
Wrestling may be “scripted” — that is, not quite real — but the pain wrestlers suffer, it seems, is authentic. Why? The lawsuit says this is what happens, essentially, when you get large men beating on each other, falling off of steel cages and whacking each other with metal chairs — even when it’s all in fun:
Though he’s not a part of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ attorneys rely heavily on the wrestler Mick Foley’s experiences in making their case. Why? Because he might be the closest thing to an intellectual the wrestling circuit has produced. He’s authored several books about his time in the ring — and gets credit for actually writing them instead of, like most jocks, having them ghost-written. He’s written for Slate and is generally known as funny and thoughtful.
Former WWE Champion “Stone Cold” Steve Austin has kept a relatively high profile since retiring from professional wrestling action in 2003. He has a podcast, a stronger-than-you’d-expect film career and a boatload of endorsements and products.
He also manages to stay in the news in other ways, like by offering Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson a free safe: