Seeing wrestling as an entertainment business is easy; there are drama-heavy storylines and larger-than-life characters that are the physical manifestations of good and evil. We all know that wrestling is not a show of physical prowess, with wrestlers fighting with all they have for glory and a big belt, yet we still get upset when a match doesn’t look “real” enough. Stone, Oldenburg, and I share a question, which they word very nicely in their article: “How can the wrestling fan who seemingly has penetrated the façade of the match still be caught up in the ‘heat’ of the performance?” Made up of mostly lower-status individuals, the wrestling fans’ views are probably infused with a phenomenon termed “working-class authoritarianism,” according to Stone and Oldenburg. Basically, lower class people tend to see issues in black-and-white terms, caring more about the triumph of good over evil more than the development of a plot. (I would argue that the plot matters more than they give it credit, but I’ll wait a moment to talk about that.) Good triumphing over Evil. That’s what the fans want to see. Why is it, then, that good doesn’t always win? Why does the company, who is in business to entertain us, allow our heroes to be beaten?
John Campbell’s article Professional Wrestling: Why the Bad Guys Win seeks to shed some light on that topic. He retells the story between the Japanese Yokozuna and the “smiling American hero” Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Yokozuna, being Pure Evil on the wrestling Good-Evil spectrum, of course resorted to cheating at the last moment to defeat the almost certain victor, Duggan. Not only did he cheat, but he also disrespected the flag of the United States of America. “For wrestling fans, there was no need to feel guilty about hating Yokozuna; he deserved it,” (Campbell, 129). Yokozuna may have won the match, but fans know that it doesn’t end there. They will fight again, and Good will ultimately triumph. This is where the plot becomes so vital. Campbell’s article goes on to explain how the week following the match would continue the story through interviews with Jim’s family, emphasizing his American pride and devotion. The outcome of Duggan and Yokozuna’s rematch is certain: Duggan will have to serve justice, by whatever means necessary. The temporary loss of Good is just a move to further the plot. Just as a movie’s protagonist seems to fall deeper into despair before he triumphs, so does the wrestler allow for a larger dramatic climax by upsetting the balance of good and evil. It's just a way to make sure you tune in next week to see Good win... or you could subscribe to the Network for just $9.99 a month and watch it anytime!