The day the Undertaker laid this 'sport' to rest


The day the Undertaker laid this 'sport' to rest

Whether wrestling is a sport is open to interpretation, but the fans don't care if it's scripted - and they can't be judged


Some time ago I found myself on YouTube watching the Undertaker's ring entrance.
While I continued to listen in the background, the days of my cousin trying the “tombstone” piledriver on me came to mind.
This was in the days when World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) was still the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
At the time, it was, like it is now, only available on the pay channel.
When my parents had to cancel the subscription, it was a massive disappointment, but thanks to ETV, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) filled this void quite successfully.This should tell you everything you need to know about which era I grew up in.
We used to take this wrestling thing very seriously.
The 5pm slot on Saturdays meant we'd go pack ourselves at a friend's house to watch the week's edition, and, since this was before the days of the “please don't try this at home or anywhere” advert, we'd immediately go and try the moves on each other.
Suffice it to say, I was on the receiving end of the Dudley Boys' finishing move on one Saturday.
This is how seriously we took this “sport”, but it didn't end there.
When WWE became a permanent fixture on ETV, time stopped on Sunday afternoons when RAW dominated our screens, while Wednesday nights were dedicated to Smackdown.Grown men would argue as to which show was the best and which one had the best wrestlers, at an arcade and beer joint called kwaLaKhuz where, for some reason, there was a mutual admiration society across all ages for wrestling and Dragon Ball Z.My parents were never comfortable with this arrangement, but since my cousin was part of this movement, they let it slide.
This is how seriously we took wrestling as a sport even though we never got to see the main “pay-per-views”.
The mere mention of wrestling being entertainment and not sport was enough to get you banished.
Wrestling a question
Here now lies the debate: Is wrestling a sport?
If you're an Olympic follower, it is, especially the Greco-Roman and Freestyle stuff, but where does this leave Vince McMahon's circus?
One thing we know for certain, the fact the pay-channel has paid so much money to prise it off ETV's hands tells us all we need to know about its monetary value.
It's clear that viewers don't care whether it's scripted or not.It's a sport as far as they are concerned and the titles they hoist are a validation of their abilities.
What also can't be doubted is the wrestling pedigree of the combatants, but the play-acting that I came to notice in my late teens didn't sit very well with me.
It still doesn't, but everyone has their opium.
It's WrestleMania on Sunday and it was a show I'd track closely, but once the Undertaker lost his unbeaten run, I gave up on it.
They can't be judged
That's when it dawned on me that this is just an act.
Sometime this month, this circus is coming to our country and, trust me, people will shell out their hard-earned rands to go and watch.
They can't be judged and I'd do the same if there was a Tortured Soul show in Johannesburg.One thing I can share: ever since my daughter and her cousins broke one of my beds while playing wrestling after playing it on a game console two years ago, it irritated me.
I'll leave to it to you to decide whether it's a sport or not, but with the Oxford dictionary defining sport as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment, it's open for interpretation.
As to where I stand, this opinion piece will tell you everything you need to know about what I think about wrestling.

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email or call 0860 52 52 00.

Next Article

Previous Article