Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wrestling Cannot Not Be Drama

While The "Logic" of Professional Wrestling by Laurence de Garis professed to enumerate the presence of "wrestling" in professional wrestling (as opposed to discussing drama, as most scholarly analyses of professional wrestling concern themselves with), and discuss the performative aspects in the wrestling match, the essay is still very concerned with dramatic aspects. Of his criteria for a good match (believable, logical, and tells a good story), they are all about how the physical labor of a wrestling match and how it becomes drama. The wrestler's performance is what composes a drama, and the piece becomes more of an explanation of the wrestler's role in the drama of wrestling, and I disagree with his assertion that wrestling cannot be considered a drama.
His paragraph on believability can be summarized as "a wrestler must keep kayfabe." Similar to a stage actor, the wrestler's actions have to be well-timed, and he has to keep up his persona. Wrestlers do this slightly differently than stage actors, but not enough to set it apart from drama. Logic and selling wrestling moves tie into the give and take of thespians interacting with the stage and other characters in a play. In the ring and on the stage there are set parameters of the realities of the world of the performance, and those rules must be upheld otherwise the performance suffers. Wrestlers simply have much more to consider physically than actors onstage. Storytelling is literally a synonym for drama. I'm not sure why de Garis decided to try and divorce wrestling from drama, but it's an impossibility and the rest of the essay contradicts it.


Marshall Metcalf said...

I agree with you, Michael. I disagree with him saying that wrestling cannot be a drama. It can definitely be seen as a drama type production. The wrestlers are actors who have to work hard for their "role." There are many parallels between professional wrestling and Broadway. They both have stages, live audiences, scripts, etc. The wrestlers are encouraged to keep kayfabe, but I don't think that causes wrestling to not be seen as a drama.

Sam Ford said...

Good point, Mikey. I found this strange, too. I get what he's saying--that many have looked at wrestling completely as drama or as spectacle, and not analyzed seriously the sports side of it. But this isn't sports VS. drama. If anything, I'd say that wrestling being a drama as presented through being a sport necessitates believability in its depiction of the wrestling, just as a drama about football necessitates a logic that understands football. Larry, I'm guessing, would come back and say that, whereas a drama about football would focus largely on what happened off field with only some sequences here and there of gameplay, in wrestling it is the full athletic exhibition that IS the drama, which sets it apart from all other drama.

All this, for me, just emphasizes further how wrestling is so much different than any other form of storytelling...and how difficult that makes it to "put it in a box."