There is no doubt that wrestling is a hard-to-define genre. Some people look at it as entertainment. Others look at it as sport, due to the athleticism, even though it is not a competitive activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against one-another. While these are acceptable opinions, and so are others, I personally view wrestling as an art form.
As someone who has been a wrestling fan for over 20 years, I have found myself in positions where I have to defend why I watch wrestling. Some, seeing I am someone who enjoys high-class levels of entertainment that make a definitive point about modern day or history or at least bring up compelling questions about society, like the point out my hypocrisy in engaging in low-level based entertainment, as that is sometimes how wrestling is perceived to be.
It is why I have to explain to people that beyond the crude, simple-minded, and melodramatic entertainment, which appeals to philistines, it can be an exquisite art form.
- I draw attention to how awe-inspiring it is to see two or more wrestlers choreographing such a fine piece of art, resembling poetry in motion, and how wrestlers are more talented than the cast members on Jackass, as wrestling is only achieved by a few.
- I explain all the inner-workings to them, so they can see wrestling how I view it. I define psychology for them and explain to them why it enables people to suspend their disbelief.
- I go over how storytelling works, the amount of effort it takes, and the pulchritude of wrestlers conveying a well-told story through physicality instead of words.
- I make intelligible the dynamics of a babyface and heel; how wrestlers utilize those elements to tell a feel-good story about the hero overcoming the villain by giving him the comeuppance he deserves, for doing such rotten things.
- I talk about pacing and time, comparing it to sophisticated dancing, in which wrestlers have to be on the exact same page, or else it will be a disaster, and also how the pacing of the match can mar the story being told.
- I explain how drama is injected into wrestling and the importance of it (as it is an exceptional implement that discovers and conveys human emotion and is a crucial form of behavior in all cultures and a major social activity that makes people to use their imagination and solving skill and can help develop a better understanding of the world on top of gives people a sense of purpose).
- I show them the different wrestling styles as well as how those styles alter a wrestling match’s story (because wrestlers will have to adjust to their opponent’s in-ring style and perhaps change their style to do so). I also explain how wrestling character’s have strengths and weaknesses and how entertaining it can be seeing wrestlers accentuating their strengths while attacking their opponent’s weaknesses, similar to a larger-than-life chess match.
- I then show them that wrestling has had its number of multilayered, robust, fleshed-out, well-explained, and well-thought-out, characters with clear objectives and motives; how effectively wrestling has tackled social issues and other real-life problems in a form of story telling; and that wrestling has had its moments where it showed off its cosmopolitan knowledge, paid its respect to multiculturalism & the different wrestling cultures, and produced some of the most avant-garde and/or sophisticated stories I’ve ever seen.
As you probably know, there are many instances where wrestling broke out of its stereotypical assessment: low-cultured, crude, overly-rudimentary entertainment for cretins who enjoy brain candy television that, instead of has a lesson being taught, serves no purpose aside from bottom-of-the-barrel cheap thrills.
But the Jinder Mahal character brought wrestling back to less pleasant times, times in which it showed its ugliest side via portraying a wrestler in such a zero-dimensional way, that the only real reason someone should hate him is because of own personal deep-rooted hatred for those of a different culture, race, or creed. To make things much worse, WWE provided them a platform where they could feel noble doing it, and encouraged others to follow along. The way the character belittled Shinsuke Nakamura, using such bottom of the barrel, hackneyed and eye-rolling jokes, summed up wrestling at its worst and embraced a stereotype many hold to their grave about it.
I understand that heels aren’t supposed to be decent, reasonable, and noble people but at what point is a company making someone hated for all the wrong reasons and just putting the heat on itself for being a setback in society, a place that’s overtly racist, obscene, xenophobic, ignorantly patriotic, and vulgar that relies on gross-out comedy, and other forms are genre that are seen as trite, lazy, and uncivilized?
Do you want to be known as someone who participates in this type of cultural, an ass-backwards culture, counterproductive to what we pride ourselves on being, going against all our valuable teaching we’ve learned in school, church, or wherever about seeing humans beyond their outside appearance and seeing what is inside, as inside is the area they have authority over? Or, do you want heels who are so cutting-edge, groundbreaking, and multilayered that one could spend days dissecting due to their complexity?
Humans are an objectively, scientifically-proven complex species, so whenever we are labeled as such oversimplified species, even in a fictionalizes world, we’re doing ourselves a disservice when we strip ourselves of our intrinsic idiosyncrasies that our race, sex, creed, or culture could never come close in explaining.
When I look at Shinsuke Nakamura, I look at an once-in-a-lifetime superstar who is oozing with charisma & personality; someone who has an unparalleled ability to connect with any crowd; someone who has rigorous talent; and someone who has superhuman abilities and endurance for pain. The only thing that makes me think of Japan is his style, puro, arguably the most pure, realistic, and highbrow wrestling style in the world.
Therefore, it is infuriating WWE – which has a wretched history of misunderstanding Japanese culture and its wrestling traditions – cannot look past the stockiest characteristics of its biggest Japanese star ever.
Once again, WWE pounds its chest, while humming the star-stangled banner, adsorbed in its over-inflated self-worth, viewing a just as, if not more, refined, innovative, and advanced culture as “a bunch of slanted-eyed aliens who have an obsession with kung-fu and weird noises”. *That* is how these promos have come off — a way of Vince McMahon feeling the need to vent all his views of Japanese people.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not advocating to take the fun out of wrestling. I’m not advocating wrestlers shouldn’t take shots at one-another, use vulgarity, or use violence and blood. You can even sprinkle in racist, sexism, xenophobia stories in there as long as they teach the proper story of how they are all counterproductive. After all, some of the best movies of all time, which are revered as fine piece of arts, have all those things in them.