Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Final Project

Posted by Drake Kizer on May 10, 2017


By: Drake Kizer, Tristen Denney, Jacob Karaglanis, and Connor Frederick

When we began our group project on professional wrestling, we were beyond excited to create a project not only referring to modern sports entertainment, but also a final analysis of everything we have learned in POP 201. For example, we wanted to relate back to one of the first topics we studied and discussed in class, the idea of “stickiness” and “spreadability”. We also wanted to create something on professional wrestling that not only contained substance and good material, but also something that a longtime viewer or casual fan could be interested in. The first step was analyzing our group’s opinion on professional wrestling, as well as our personal opinions. Two members of our group, Drake and Connor, have been lifetime fans, and even attended the WWE Live event held on Western Kentucky University’s campus March 17. On the other hand, Tristen and Jacob are somewhat less interested in professional wrestling, but loved the idea of analyzing modern entertainment.

As we neared the completion of our final project, we began to realize our collective and personal opinions were still not quite enough to effectively cover and analyze this sports entertainment that has existed for decades. That is where we believe previous blog posts and wrestling expert’s opinions are necessary to help us expand the range of knowledge applied to this project. Drake and Tristen, for example, both wrote blog posts on class-assigned essays about the WWE and how it functions in society today. In Drake’s analysis of Sam’s “I Was Stabbed 21 Times by Crazy Fans’: Pro Wrestling & Popular Concerns with Immersive Story Worlds”, he stated:

“Modern professional wrestling fans have “unprecedented access to information about the professional wrestling business through the memoirs of wrestling performers and…the work of…journalists who report on the creative decisions backstage”, and this means that a fan’s impact on the show is more important now than ever before.”

Along with the “unprecedented access to information” about professional wrestling, one also has to take into account what a wrestling fan is and how they affect this form of entertainment. Tristen’s blog post relating to these fans said:

“…[Sam’s] “The Marks Have Gone Off-Script: Rogue Actors in the WWE’s Stands”…describes WWE fans not only as spectators, but also as “a community member, critic, vernacular theorist, and performers.” Although it is odd to consider a fan a “performer”, without the fans “performing” their duties as fans to come to shows, watch the events on TV, and buy the merchandise, the WWE would not be around today or have near the success that it does.”

Though many do not realize the various roles WWE and professional wrestling fans fulfill, this is where we believe different types of fans and wrestling experts could get involved and spread the word about this sports entertainment. We believe there is value in doing an analysis of professional wrestling like our group did on an ongoing basis. Though our group of four students with differing opinions was awesome and provided some great analysis, we do not believe it is sustainable. We think a group of individuals with varying interest levels in wrestling that could not only remain united, but also be unbiased, would include: a current or former wrestler, a wrestling expert, a passionate fan, and a casual viewer.

Examples of this idea are already present in society, with media platforms like Bleacher Report and ESPN sharing multiple opinions from both experts and fans in many cases. Even radio shows where individuals call in and express their opinions alongside the experts’, are similar to this idea. Our proposed panel could publish their content via a sports or a media/entertainment site, so that wrestling could gain greater exposure to other types of fans. We do not feel like our approach would work as well for something different than a wrestling match, but perhaps our concept could be adapted to better suit other genres and allow them to dissect content in the way we have in this project.

Overall, when relating our final project to everything we have learned in POP 201, no one says it better than William Uricchio, author of an assigned reading titled, “The History of Spreadable Media.” Uricchio states:

“The print, film, and television industries of the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries… were built on control and standardization,…professionalizing and streamlining the process in their own interests.”

Though this quote was true for so many years in reference to society and media was shared, this process has changed. Like we have discussed time and time again in class, media must be “spreadable” and “sticky” to be successful in society. Also, with the multiple media platforms available today, anyone can become a creator and consumer of mass media. Therefore, through the use of our personal opinions shared via blog posts, and other author’s opinions, we believe we have not only analyzed professional wrestling and what the sports entertainment strives to be, but also how we have applied and used the knowledge we gained throughout this semester in POP 201 to create this final project.

Works Cited:





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