Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

A Hasty Praise of WWE

Posted by Sean Hull on March 21, 2017

Well, as an introduction to Pro Wrestling, the assigned readings did a good job of selling it. Perhaps part of its appeal to me is the absurd, over-the-top drama with which Pro Wrestling is associated, but another aspect of it which intrigues me is the possibility of casual viewing, mentioned in WWE’s Story World and the Immersive Potentials of Transmedia Storytelling.

Perhaps my impressions are flawed due to lack of engagement with Pro Wrestling media, but the potential for enjoying Pro Wrestling without extensive knowledge of its fictional history endears it to me more than Soap Opera, which, based on our brief viewing of As the World Turns, seemed near-impenetrable without a sizeable education in the show’s narrative. Pro Wrestling, though also offering a similarly unending chain of narrative events, offers these events via self-contained fights through which the greater narrative unfolds. This narrative structure allows for casual viewers to focus on specific fights alone and experience some degree of conclusion, dissimilar to the unbroken continuous narratives ascribed to Soap Operas.

Pro Wrestling’s blurring of reality and fiction is also appealing in its novelty, despite the complexities it entails. Though alternate reality games may often be used as promotional media for otherwise distinctly fictional products, with Valve Software being a frequent user of basic ARGs in their promotional material, the ability for Pro Wrestling fans to engage with and in some cases directly affect a fictional world through participation in live events, and in online interactions with fictional Pro Wrestler personas, offers an amount of interactivity alien to most other forms of media.

Perhaps this praise of Pro Wrestling is overly quick; much as I initially found the concept of Soap Opera’s continuous narrative fascinating, and then came to dislike the viewing experience, perhaps Pro Wrestling will also seem lackluster when seen in execution. Despite these doubts, I can only hope that, based on the descriptions in the readings, Pro Wrestling will prove a more accessible drama than its Soap Opera counterpart.


One Response to “A Hasty Praise of WWE”

  1. Drake Kizer said

    I think you made a lot of great points in this post, and I especially enjoyed how you brought up the casual viewing aspect of WWE. Like you said, anyone can “[enjoy] Pro Wrestling without extensive knowledge of its fictional history”, and the same cannot be said about a lot of shows on television. Most shows, other than perhaps sitcoms, require you to have watched every episode to understand a lot of what is going on. As you mentioned, the “focus on specific fights” is very similar to how sports focus on specific games, and that invites people who have never seen the product at all to enjoy it alongside long-term viewers.

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