Monday, October 13, 2014

Botchamania

In "The Logic of Professional Wrestling" by Laurence De Garis, he discusses how the best wrestling matches follow a certain formula that recreate those "miracle moments" in sports, like "the home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, the last-second field goal, the final-round knockout while you are behind on the judges' scorecard" (201). The only way to recreate those moments is to seamlessly and flawlessly execute a performance. It is interesting to note, however, that a lot of wrestling fans will actively seek out errors and mistakes in maneuvers, sometimes without even realizing it. They will try to pay close attention and catch a wrestler whispering the next move to another wrestler. Like the article suggests, "one of the strongest sources of pleasure for fans of spectator sports is the voyeuristic pleasure of seeing something that one is not supposed to see" (201). This is why we see such popular Internet videos that have compiled a wrestler's botched performance. Simply YouTube-ing "botchamania" will yield countless examples of these videos. Enjoy this Wrestlemania 30 edition:



People love seeing things they're not supposed to see. People also love seeing their heroes make mistakes. People love seeing the inner workings of their most beloved show. These superstars are the big time, the real deal. And seeing them make a mistake is exciting (and sometimes funny) because we realize that they're human too. They're more human than they are allowed to let on through their character. It also makes you feel connected to the wrestlers when you catch them whispering things to one another, whether it be the next move or if they're simply asking if they're OK.

7 comments:

Timothy S. Rich said...

There is a fascinating dynamic here of accepting that the performance is scripted, yet reveling in examples that break script (whether it helps or hinders the story line). In part this breaking of script, even if it's a botched series of moves, reminds the audience of the inherent realness of even a scripted activity.

I miss the days of unscripted live interviews where you never quite knew when a wrestler might say something that would break character or violate whatever norms exist in wrestling. From a promoter's viewpoint of course this is dangerous ground.

Marshall Metcalf said...

I love your comment about certain wrestling fans looking for the wrestlers to make a mistake or watch for them to talk the other wrestler secretly. I think this is something that all humans do to most things. For instance, I have a love/hate relationship with looking for mistakes in movies. I love finding them by myself but I hate it because it makes the movie "less good" to me for some reason.

Sam Ford said...

I've done some research/thinking on this as well, in terms of not only how pro wrestling fans dissect live performance but how comic book fans look for continuity errors in the Marvel/DC universe (look at Marvel's "No Prize," for instance) and how soap opera fans act as "continuity police" in their own right for their favorite daytime drama. I think it's interesting how many pro wrestling fans slip back and forth between various roles in how they are analyzing a performance--how the fans can engage within and outside kayfabe at the arena and outside it...We saw this in our little section at Night of Champions....As opposed to "Botchmania," encourage you all to look up the meaning of the term "spotfest" as well.

Timothy S. Rich said...

Continuity and logical errors are aplenty in wrestling and elsewhere. Here's an often overlooked one: several people were very upset that The Undertaker's "brother" was named Kane, seeing that when The Undertaker first debuted, his name was "Kane the Undertaker". Apparently their parents are like George Foreman who named all his boys "George".

Sam Ford said...

Ha...or, as some people I know tried to say to fix the continuity gap, Undertaker at first took on the name "Kane the Undertaker" to pay tribute to his presumed-dead brother.

Gary said...

Sam, isn't a spotfest a match that gives the audience a lot of high risk moves and finishes, but no flow, so it doesn't tell a good story. It leaves out the psychology of the match.

Sam Ford said...

Exactly, Gary...