The Shoot is a piece written and shared directly from the people inside the business of professional wrestling. In this week’s edition, the Week in Wrestling turned to Kayfabe News for an in-depth investigation on whether the results of pro wrestling matches are pre-determined.
Is Wrestling Rigged? A Kayfabe News Investigation
By Colin Hunter, Editor-in-Chief, Kayfabe News
In this era of fake news and “alternative facts,” it has become increasingly difficult to separate the truth from outlandish conspiracy theories that circulate virally across the internet.
Is Hillary Clinton the evil mastermind of a pedophilia ring operating out of a Washington pizza joint? Are government airplanes spewing “chemtrails” that control the weather and keep the populace brainwashed? Is professional wrestling rigged?
That latter conspiracy theory is especially pernicious, having led millions of people to mistakenly believe that the noble sport of professional wrestling is actually a scripted pantomime of simulated combat.
This baseless allegation has gained traction again in recent months as “rigged” has become a buzzword that Donald Trump said described the American electoral process (he may have been right, it seems, but the rigging was in his favor).
Like most conspiracy theories, the preposterous notion that wrestling is rigged is based on a tiny kernel of truth, but to suggest that pro wrestling is not a legitimate sporting competition is a lie tantamount to saying that pineapple belongs on pizza, or that soccer is exciting.
It’s just not true.
Nevertheless, conspiracy wingnuts around the globe continue to cling to the idea that wrestling is not on the up-and-up, regardless of the enormous body of evidence pointing to its legitimacy and integrity.
So in hopes of putting this conspiratorial poppycock to rest once and for all, we have compiled the so-called “evidence” that pro wrestling is a “fake” sport, and we refute each point with razor-sharp counter-arguments.
If you still believe wrestling is rigged after reading these rebuttals, you might as well have the tin-foil hat permanently affixed to your noggin, because you are beyond hope.
Claim: Wrestling used to be real, but in the 20th century promoters and wrestlers colluded to plan the outcomes of matches in order to sell more tickets and make more money.
Rebuttal: Quite the opposite! For millennia–in ancient Greece and Rome, in biblical times, and through the Middle Ages–wrestling was indeed a staged spectacle in which opponents merely pretended to fight. The Roman Emperor VincenteMcMaximus (circa 42 BC - 14 AD) was known as a brilliant, albeit insane, showman who promoted extravagant “battles” of Gladiators, sometimes including lions as part of the spectacle.
But historical texts are clear that the Gladiators (or “workers,” as they called themselves) merely performed choreographed maneuvers to delight the audience, and the so-called “lions” were actually local independent (or “indy”) gladiators wearing lion costumes. These facts were all recorded by historians in the Coliseum Home Scrolls (which, centuries later, became Coliseum Home Video, a series of historical documentary films).
Wrestling remained a staged “work” through biblical times, as chronicled in The Book of Austin. Although the best-known part of this book remains Verse 16 (“I doth whippeththine donkey”), the fakery of wrestling is evident in Verse 21 (“Thou shalt protect the business”) and Verse 21 (“Thou shalt not breaketh Kay’s fabe,” which refers to Saint Kay, the patron saint of selling).
Only in the 20th century, amid the rise of television and more savvy audiences, did spectators get “smart” to the workings of rigged wrestling, and promoters were forced to eliminate the fakery and establish wrestling as the legitimate combat sport we now enjoy.
Claim: Olympic/amateur wrestling is real, but pro wrestling is scripted.
Rebuttal: Nonsense. If Olympic wrestlers are actually trying to beat each other, why don’t they clobber each other with steel chairs, or jump onto one another from ladders? Plus they don’t even “compete” in a real ring, and therefore cannot gain crucial leverage by bouncing or leaping off the ropes (good luck seeing a springboard hurricanrana at the Olympics). To even call the bogus Olympic variant “wrestling” does a disservice to the real warriors of the squared circle, which is why a movement is afoot to have the pseudo-sport renamed for the 2018 Olympics as “singlet dry-humping.”
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Claim: Pro wrestlers stomp their feet while punching to create the auditory illusion of a devastating blow.
Rebuttal: While it’s true that pro wrestlers stomp their feet while punching, it has been scientifically proven that this makes the punches hurt more. Kinesiologists call this technique “stompching,” and have determined that it adds 30 percent more force to the blows. Scientists have also determined that a top-rope maneuver is drastically more effective if it includes a bunch of flips and twirls and stuff.
Claim: Professional wrestling events always end exactly on time, which means they must be precisely scripted.
Rebuttal: Horsefeathers! The sun rises every morning like clockwork–is that scripted? Wrestling events always end on time because of the precise time limits placed on matches, and the ingenious match-making of promoters, who use complex mathematical algorithms to assemble cards that will fit within a given time slot.
Claim: Professional wrestling features outlandish characters with ludicrous “gimmicks”–such as the undead Undertaker, or voodoo priest Papa Shango–that defy believability.
Rebuttal: Such narrow-mindedness toward diversity of cultures is xenophobic and racist. Yes, The Undertaker can illuminate an arena simply by raising his arms, but he gained such telekinetic powers when his demented half-brother tragically burned down his childhood home, and it’s very intolerant of you to call that “outlandish.” Furthermore, voodoo is a beautiful religion that, occasionally, can make black slime ooze from an adversary’s hairline and spark vomiting, but that’s just Papa Shango’s form of cultural expression. Don’t be so intolerant, you bigot.
Claim: Wrestling referees often conspicuously become distracted or hurt at the most inopportune times, leading to rule-breaking and confusion.
Rebuttal: What, and you’re so perfect? Wrestling referees undergo many years of schooling, training and apprenticeship to ensure they can uphold fairness and integrity in the ring. But when a pretty lady in skimpy spandex hops up on the ring apron, the official has no choice but to address the situation, regardless of what may be happening behind his back.
Claim: Countless wrestlers, and even WWE impresario Vince McMahon, have publicly admitted that “sports entertainment” is a theatrical spectacle, not a legitimate sport.
Rebuttal: Well of course they say that in order to avoid the strict rules and regulations that come with legitimate combat sports. Just look at mixed martial arts: it claims to be real (it’s not), and the resultant slew of strict regulations has made it the unbearably dull ordeal it is today (they can’t even use kendo sticks, trash cans, or wooden tables, for crying out loud). When wrestlers “admit” that wrestling is a “work,” they are actually performing a double-swerve to protect the integrity of their noble sport from the meddling of the nanny state.
Claim: Wrestling just looks kind of fake.
Rebuttal: Shut up. You look fake.
So there you have it -- every ludicrous facet of the “wrestling is rigged” conspiracy theory completely dismantled by logic and critical thinking.
In these uncertain times, the truth is an increasingly important commodity, and you mustn’t let yourself be fooled by unfounded rumors peddled by unreliable sources (we’re looking at you, the failing New York Times).
When it comes to professional wrestling news, don’t fall for the disinformation spread by the so-called “dirtsheets.” For fair and balanced wrestling reporting, always rely on Kayfabe News.
Kayfabe News delivers “unreal news about an unreal sport.” WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley described Kayfabe News as “like The Onion for wrestling fans.” Named after the lost art of kayfabe–maintaining the illusion that professional wrestling is a legitimate sport–Kayfabe News reports on the feuds and storylines of wrestling in a purely satirical manner as though it were completely real.