In Mark Workman's "The Differential Perception of Popular Dramatic Events," he discusses at length the difference and then sameness between those who enjoy pro wrestling while interpreting it as legitimate or rigged. While Workman looks in depth at the relationship between form and meaning, I was very interested in the implications of wrestling as drama and audience participation, especially as it applies to morality and my last blog post. Workman writes that wrestling as a dramatic form "must call into question a community's values and assumptions, sport calls into question an individual's or team's strength and skill, and while an audience (a moralizing body) must be present for the first, it need not be for the second (8)." As an avid ignorer of sports in general, I think this speaks not only to my uncharacteristic interest in pro wrestling because of my interest in drama, but also to a certain beneficial moralizing element in wrestling.
Despite the concerns of those detractors who Sammond lambasted so thoroughly, I would argue that the definitive Good vs. Evil struggle in wrestling outlined by John Gutowski in "The Art of Professional Wrestling: Folk Expression in Mass Culture" could be a moralizing force for youth who actively watch it, at least in comparison to those sports that do not at all engage with the audience on any level. Despite the extraordinary levels of violence or vulgarity on display in wrestling (especially during the Attitude Era), there is a clear-cut relationship between the heel and face, and eventually the transgressions of the heel will be duly punished. A football game can only be a contest of physical superiority, and will never impart any lessons about values (indeed it could even be a negative influence, as many football stars engage in dubious activities). By contrast, no matter how tough a heel is, how cool they look and act, how many titles they have, or how much backing they have from "the authority," eventually the face will swoop in, full of righteous fire and take them down. In wrestling, crime doesn't pay, and there is some merit to having a child watch a moralizing drama over a physical contest. I'm very interested in constructing my own argument in favor of the watching of wrestling, and hope that as we continue our study I'll be able to amalgamate these readings into something pretty airtight.