Last weekend, I took my boys to watch grown men smash each other with chairs, jab one another with kendo sticks and slap the devil out of the other’s hairless, muscular chests. No, I didn’t take my kids to the local biker bar or the bare knuckles fight club down by the school. Where can a stay-at-home mama get her fix of watching sweaty, shirtless hunks under the premise of a family event? World Wrestling Entertainment brought their live show back to good ‘ole Louisville, Kentucky.
Like many quick-to-judge mothers, I had always associated professional wrestling with steroids, sexism and violence. In the past, WWE has had its fair share of criticism and during the early 2000 era, justifiably so. Did I find an arena full of misogynistic miscreants ready to abduct women and pilfer the nearest 7-Eleven? No. I found kids with fake championship belts and dreams of climbing on to the top rope. Oh, and they brought along their middle-aged parents, reminiscent themselves about all those DDTs on the Saturday morning wrestling shows of their youth.
In fact, I saw little evidence of steroids, violence or sexism. It looked like the hamburgers served to the event patrons contained more growth hormones than most of the wrestlers in the ring. Several years ago, the corporation addressed steroid abuse by implementing a Talent Wellness Program, which, among other things, tests employees for banned substances. I’d be more than willing to taste test any of the guys sweat and certify them as USDA organic beefcakes, but no one took me up on the offer.
Over-the-top violence also was not a factor. Kids nowadays know that you really can’t smash a guy four times with a chair and he’ll not only remain standing, but force you into a submission hold that would make Charlie Sheen regain sanity. Before the company disclosed the scripted nature of the show, I remember when we thought Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant really were going to maim each other. And it was cool. We turned out ok then, as my children will now.
As for the sexist nature of the show, I cannot lie. Bodies were objectified. But when you have 15 sweaty men wearing teeny-weeny tight underpants all touching each other, my inherent carnal lust couldn’t help but surface. I’m sorry, Randy Orton. I know you are a person, as well as a handsome and contributing member of society. I will try to remember as much the next time I grab your fingers a little too hard during your winning hand slaps. By then, the restraining order should be lifted. I will continue to practice my entrance into the ring by seductively shimming under the elastic line barriers at the local movie theater.
All and all, professional wrestling has a long tradition in our neck of the woods. You wouldn’t think oily men pummeling each other would connect generations. But somehow cheering for the faces and booing the heels transcends age. Isn’t professional wrestling just an extension in the fight of good over evil, all the while teaching our children basic moral norms?
Yes. But it’s also a way for this mother to look at rock hard abs and perfect pecs.