Ah, pro-wrestling. Either you completely adore it, or you find it to be the most idiotic, mind-numbing sport on earth (it is a sport, damn it…). But whether you hate it or you have “Austin 3:16” tattooed on your chest, it is an event that is indisputably nerdy. Don’t believe me? Ok, let me put it this way: good guys and bad guys sporting character-specific costumes monologue about their hopes, fears, and hatred for each other, which culminates in hyped-up battles for dominance. Sound familiar? Yeah. Read on for further proof, NerdBastards.
Wrestling fans, like Furries, Bronies, or Otaku, seem to be pariahs of nerd culture. Odd, given that nerds are usually created by being subjected to ostracization and bullying, but I digress. Wrestling fans are seen as stupid, as though they’ve yet to get the memo about wrestling being scripted. Friends, I assure you, no wrestling fan thinks:
Wow, good thing that camera happened to focus on those wrestlers discussing that important plan, and kudos to them for broadcasting it in spite of its secretive nature!
Just as you’ve never thought:
Thank God R2-D2 shut down that trash compactor…the Rebels could have died!
Actually, you might think that. You might get so caught up in A New Hope that your sphincter tightened a tad when the Dianoga dragged Luke underwater. They’re the main characters of the film. You know they aren’t going to die. But when you see the people you’re rooting for in mortal danger, you might get anxious.
That’s why we want Triple H to get his ass handed to him by Sting. Triple H, in modern day WWE, is a villain. He and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, are the leaders of the Authority, a group of selfish evildoers that rule World Wrestling Entertainment with an iron fist. Sting is an old-school wrestler that just kinda popped up one day, and he’s so famous that we’re all just cool with it when we’re told that he’s going to fight the leader of the Authority at Wrestlemania in two weeks.
Triple H, played by Jean-Paul Levesque, is a character that we all hate for the same reasons we hate Darth Vader. In the past, he was a good guy with a lot of skill and a ton of promise, until he was corrupted by power. Sting, played by Steve Borden, is basically Eric Draven from the Crow, right down to the trench-coat and face-paint. A silent vigilante, he’s a sworn enemy of the WWE because he was originally the face of WCW, a federation that used to feud with WWE (or, if you were around when wrestling was perfect, WWF) but he can’t help but interfere when he sees villains make a mockery of the sport he spent the better part of his 55 years working so hard for.
If this all sounds too cinematic, that’s because it is. It’s a violent soap opera. It’s overblown, death-defying, and, at times, cheesy. The awkward humor shoehorned in at inopportune moments feels almost like a nod to its truly vaudevillian roots, and the acting is sometimes reminiscent of cult-classic b-movies. It’s far from a masterpiece, and that’s what makes it fantastic. The people in the ring getting their asses kicked for a living do it because they love it.
They’ve chosen a very strange career, after all. They have to love it. Otherwise, it would be the worst job in the world. You get beaten to hell, work unreasonably long hours, design the merchandise that will determine your fate as an employee, and after all of your work, you’re ultimately at the mercy of fickle fans and borderline incompetent management. If the fans don’t hate you enough as a heel (villain) or love you enough as a face (good guy), then you’re done. You go back to developing a new character that has a slim chance of working, or you just get fired. Even if the fans do love you, sometimes management wants someone else to succeed. They may not see you as champion material, so they give someone else the opportunities you are owed.
This was the case when, at the Royal Rumble, they chose to let three superstars that the fans adored, Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler, be eliminated, while a far less popular superstar, Roman Reigns, got the win. The had the Rock, an old fan favorite, come out from backstage just in case the decision didn’t go over well, but even his approval of the outcome didn’t stop the fans from chanting “Bullshit!” It’s sad, because the fans kind of liked him. They just hated the idea of him winning because he hadn’t earned it.
WWE was forced to call attention to the situation on the following Monday at RAW, one of two weekly televised shows they do, the other being SmackDown!. They had to write another storyline in which Reigns “proves himself worthy”, but even that didn’t work. It’s all so amazing because, in the case of TV shows, if you hate what happened last night on The Walking Dead, the writers don’t give a shit. They have a set path. They aren’t going to stop and re-shoot the latter half of a season because the fans didn’t like it.
With wrestling, the story constantly evolves, often last-minute. Many outcomes are changed moments before the matches take place. It creates a large, interactive storytelling experience that can’t compare to any other medium. Imagine if you could yell loud enough at a comic book to make the Joker finally kill the Dark Knight. Imagine if the Death of Superman could have been avoided by booing Doomsday loud enough. With wrestling, you hold all the cards. You decide who wins, who loses, who sucks, who is amazing, and no one can tell you you’re wrong because the WWE Universe revolves around you.
TNA iMPACT! is another wrestling promotion where the fans screaming enough moved mountains. The president, Dixie Carter, was in a storyline with Bully Ray, played by Mark LoMonaco, in which Bully Ray threatened to put her through a table. Did she want to make good on it? Hell no. But the fans wanted it. They really wanted it. So, sure enough, she went through the table. And if you can really watch that spot and not see how dedicated, hard-working, professional, and eager-to-please wrestlers are, then you’ll never understand what wrestling fans understand.
You’ll never get wrestling. And that’s fine. I don’t get Game of Thrones, but I wouldn’t judge you for having Peter Dinklage’s autograph tattooed on your tit, so don’t judge wrestling fans for seeing what you don’t. We’re all nerds. Animosity between different sorts of nerds is a house divided, and as the dead dude with that weird chin thing once said, “A house divided against itself is hella unsafe.” We can’t pick and choose what interests we deem valid or invalid, and we can’t mock each other for such trivial things. Nerd culture means understanding, or tolerance in the absence of understanding. It doesn’t mean playing the jocks in our own little circle-jerk fantasies. We have to stick together. But I’m still on the fence about Bronies.