Is Professional Wrestling Scripted?
Pro wrestling is planned, scripted, and rehearsed, but much of a given match involves the real and spontaneous execution of well-practiced moves and routines.
To call professional wrestling fake would arguably be doing a disservice to the wrestlers and the fans of the sport, while pretending professional wrestling is completely unscripted would arguably doing a disservice to the sport and its fans as well. Either way, it’s generally recognized that Pro Wrestling is part entertainment and part sport.
A video discussing how wrestling can be considered both scripted and real.
What is Professional Wrestling?
Professional wrestling (or pro wrestling) is largely scripted entertainment that acts as an exaggerated hybrid of real wrestling, stage show, and other combat sports like martial arts. It is a mix of a scripted live TV show (or stage show), performance art, and sport.
The way this is described officially is as an “entertainment sport”.
How is Professional Wrestling Scripted?
The broad script for a match, including most of what the wrestlers will say, what moves they will make, and their timing, is decided ahead of time and rehearsed. A producer directs a given event, and the referee, already knowing what calls they will make, helps to coordinate the wrestlers. Who will win the match, how they will win, and the reactions are scripted and known before the match starts.I
Generally, it’s more like “improvising within the rule-set of wrestling entertainment”, than “fighting for sport”.
That said, unlike a sport like eSports, wrestling is a sport that takes a consider athletic ability.
What Parts of Professional Wrestling Aren’t Scripted?
Although the overall outline of what will happen is predetermined, the match itself is largely improvised based on well-rehearsed routines.
In a match wrestlers call “spots” to each other. Spots tell the other wrestler what sort of move they will give or receive. Once a spot is called, the wrestlers act out the move in an exaggerated form as practice.
That means that wrestlers are actors and athletes in their respective sport.
Do Wrestlers Actually Hurt Each Other?
Wrestlers don’t hurt each other purposefully, but wrestlers can get hurt during the physical aggression. Wrestlers aim to choreograph and execute moves in such a way to make the interaction look real without actually hurting each other, but sometimes accidents happen.
For example: A wrestler will hit another wrestler lightly with an open fist while they stomp to make a punching sound. Then the other wrestler will over-react with pain trying to “sell” the move to the audience.
Just like other forms of stage shows and entertainment, it is supposed to look dangerous, and can be, but is choreographed. It takes great effort on the part of each wrestler to ensure they preform each move in a safe way, doing things like “catching” the other wrestler in aerial moves or positioning body weight so it doesn’t injure the other player. Given the size and strength of wrestlers, if they actually hurt each other purposefully there would likely be much less frequent matches and much more bruising and bleeding.
Despite all of this there have been lots of instances where a wrestler was accidentally hurt, and in fact getting hurt is part of the job, so they are hardly removed from danger.
A video showing wrestlers that have died, notice the rather short life spans of many.
Consider this: According to a source found through Wikipedia less than 25 years after the 1990 WrestleMania VI, one third of its 36 competitors had died, including André the Giant and main event winner the Ultimate Warrior; all of these deaths had occurred before the age of 64.
Is Pro Wrestling Entertainment or a Sport?
Pro wrestling has been dubbed a “sports entertainment” as it’s both entertainment and sport. Consider the definitions:
Sport: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
Entertainment: something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement, especially a performance of some kind.
Unless we dive into semantics we can see that professional wrestling fits easily into the categories of sport and entertainment.
Are Pro Wrestlers Athletes or Entertainers?
Professional wrestlers are both athletes and entertainers.
To be a professional wrestler:
- You have to be smart enough to remember all the moves, scripts and positions.
- You have to be in shape enough to execute all the moves without appearing to be acting.
- You have to be a good enough actor to sell the role and the moves.
While some people prefer to see professional wrestling and wrestlers as “100% unscripted”, you can easily appreciate the unique sport-entertainment and its players on their own merit.