Our pro wrestling class had its first sessions yesterday afternoon, in which we started a preliminary discussion about the world of pro wrestling. It was nice to have a room full of MIT (and Harvard and Emerson) folks who were eager to discuss. During our first session, we watched an example of contemporary pro wrestling--a four-way tag team ladder match with WWE performers The Hardy Boyz, MNM, William Regal and Dave Taylor, and Paul London and Brian Kendrick.
In our analysis of that match, we discussed the dangers of wrestling performance, the tension between athletics and drama, the difficulty in fully understanding wrestling performances when they are pulled from the contexts of the storylines surrounding them, and a variety of initial observations about the business.
We also started watching the documentary The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling, which initially aired on A&E in 1998. Our second class session is today, when we will be finishing that documentary.
In addition, the students in the class are reading the opening chapter of Morton and O'Brien's Wrestling to Rasslin, which looks at the ancient roots of professional wrestling and its pre-television history in America, from P.T. Barnum and William Muldoon to George Hackenschmidt and Frank Gotch, as well as reading brief profiles of Hackenschmidt, Gotch, and Ed "Strangler" Lewis from John Molinaro's The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time and George Kerrick's short piece on the jargon involved in professional wrestling, which he wrote for American Speech in 1980.
Look forward to discussing some of these initial readings and viewings over the next few days here on the blog, and we welcome some of our cohorts from abroad, as well as any other interested folks who want to talk about the colorful world of pro wrestling.