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Wrestling as a Unique Fictional Entity


Matt D
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Bear with me here for a second:

 

I've spent a lot of the morning watching the Wrestlemania Today from yesterday. There was one point where Riley, Booker, and Tensai were talking about how they prepared for a big match, because Big E was in the Andre Invitational and in order to win it, he had to get his head straight and focus and what not, and it really dawned on me that I was watching a framing device hyping up a completely fictional event within the confines of its own universe.

 

There are other mediums like wrestling, be it serialized television or comic books or what not, but nothing like this. This isn't like Talking Dead where they talk about a show. It's not Siskel and Ebert. It's not that Marvel: Creating a Universe Special from a week or two ago. It's also not Baseball Tonight or a halftime show, because what they're talking about isn't real. 

 

The same thing wit the apter mags. Something like Doctor Who Magazine or the Marvel comics website talks to creators and production people. Marvel doesn't publish a full magazine version of The Daily Bugle that covers all of the last couple of months' happenings in the comics as if they're real. Maybe there's some kids' publication that does, but I think in this regard, Wrestling might be completely unique. It spends hours and resources and magazines devoted to talking about its own fictional universe. Do those soap opera digest things at Supermarket check outs work completely in soap opera kayfabe or do they talk about the actors coming and going and the writers and what not?

 

The closest thing I can even think of when it comes to something like this are those teenybopper magazines that portray teenage rock stars' and their adventures as real, when there are blurred lines and they're just playing characters, but I'm just guessing there having never read a Tiger Beat or what not. I guess the only other thing that would be close would be those short term alternate reality games/websites that get put up for promotional reasons for TV shows or what not. I think Lost did that or The Dark Knight, but those are flashes in a pan. 

 

It's all really surreal to me when you look at it. 

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It seems surreal from the "it's fiction" standpoint, yet it also seems entirely normal from the "sports" part of sports entertainment.  

 

Is the panel really that different from when commentators would talk about the matches and superstars more (Wrestler X has been training/going back to basics/needs to stop showboating etc...).

 

I think the closest thing from a fictional standpoint would be something like Marvel's Front Line series during big events or some of the DC Channel 52 stuff, trying to show the wider scope of what's going on.

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You're totally right, but the fact this observation happens shows just how stark a break from kayfabe we've had. Twenty years ago no one would think twice, but now that wrestling is just another form of entertainment/art, the constant insistence on its veracity as a means of "universe immersion" becomes stranger and stranger. I love it though, as I did the Apter mags, and I hope we don't eventually lose it.

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Obviously it's not as immersive as pro wrestling but this discussion reminds me of this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistolary_novel

 

The podcast Welcome to Night Vale is fiction told through the framing device of a fake local talk/newsradio broadcast. I've heard there is also a book in the works and I wonder how that will fit into the universe. Will it be written as if it were nonfiction?

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Oh man, the idea of a legit Daily Bugle being published and talking about recent comic events would be the coolest thing in the world.

 

It's weird, because this is totally what I want from my wrestling shows. I love the pre-show stuff that talks about it likes it's real. At the same time, I absolutely hate guys appearing in character on talk shows and the like because I think it makes wrestling like stupid. Just interviewing "The Miz" is too much for me. Show me Mike Mizanin, have him talk about the challenges of the show and how excited he is about what's going forward independent of the character. If it's within the universe of WWE, kayfabe it up but doing this winking "Har Har Wrestling is totally real!" shit that hosts do on late night just goes a long way toward encouraging the kind of people who feel the need to remind me it's fake every ten minutes.

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I think it's a little different when it's counter-culture, though. With WWE, this is a fictional corporate driven product that's about itself and now regularly scheduled. It's the snake eating its own tail. That's kind of what makes it so surreal. 

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Watching the Smackdown pre-show the first week and Josh was talking about the storylines we were going to see coming from Raw and going into Smackdown in a way that echoed the NFL pre-game shows was just so surreal, but it got me invested in the show more than I've ever been.

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This topic is so DVDVR. But yeah, I actually really like the pre-game show format they have with Booker T, Matthews, and Riley. I wish it wasn't a network exclusive deal, but 30 seconds on RAW ain't bad either. WWE.com experimented with posting results of indies and I believe TNA as well a few years ago. I wouldn't mind if they did an Sportscenter type show covering results from NXT, WWE, indies, and possibly even TNA, because, c'mon, it's TNA.

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"This Is Spinal Tap" and some it's attendant & later day publicity achieved this. Maybe The Rutles stuff or Fernwood 2 Night , but yeah, rassling is unique for this. I'll be 'that guy' who brings up Andy Kaufman. Gwar and The Residents never broke character.

- RAF

Well, GWAR eventually did. And now I'm bummed out again.

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Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon does this.  The movie is fintially ramed as a documentary and treats Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers as real serial killers.  They even visit the so-called Elm Street where Freddy once lived. But it becomes a more traditional horror film about midway.

 

Sometimes, soap operas exist in each other's universes.  As The World Turns and Guidng Light, All My Children and One Life to Live, The Young & The Restless and The Bold & The Beautiful are examples. 

 

 

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Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon does this.  The movie is fintially ramed as a documentary and treats Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers as real serial killers.  They even visit the so-called Elm Street where Freddy once lived. But it becomes a more traditional horror film about midway.

 

Sometimes, soap operas exist in each other's universes.  As The World Turns and Guidng Light, All My Children and One Life to Live, The Young & The Restless and The Bold & The Beautiful are examples. 

 

Given that pro wrestlers' former careers are often mentioned when they debut somewhere else, isn't it already assumed that they all exist in the same universe? I always assume that Richard Fleihr and Terry Bollea have been continuously playing the same character for their entire careers. Wrestlers have to rival even the top soap opera actors for longest character tenure.

 

Didn't Victor Newman make a cameo appearance at Unforgiven 02? We could have fun if we imagine that the pro wrestling and soap opera universes are intertwined.

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Its almost like one of those pictures by M.C. Escher where a staircase or something loops back to where it started. Mean Gene or Sean Mooney seemed like they were from the real, sane world like the viewer and along with the commentators they narrated and navigated the mayhem. I think a long time ago wrestling had a similar legitcimacy to what hindsight has shown us about PRIDE fighting. Where it was often real, but some matches were "hippodromes" as they might have said back in the late 1800s. Things that were supposed to generate interest for a match the way they do in UFC and boxing became so routinely staged that staging them became the art form. If one UFC fighter spat in another's face at a weigh in it would be a big deal. If someone sucker punched their opponent at the next weigh in it would be noteworthy. If at the next weigh in for a PPV something similar happens, now people who are interested in that sort of thing are just watching the weigh ins to see what sort of antics will go down. I think because every episode of every wrestling show is made out to be such a spectacle, it becomes like a spotfest match where no once cares about any of the moves. There is a fatigue of pyro entrances, ultimate title for title matches on RAW, "crazy" beat-downs and pull aparts, etc. That gentle art of self reference is lost, wrestling becomes almost a parody of itself in many cases.

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