Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Diary of Our Own Jimmy Bracken: Wrestling, better beer and the yawnable thumping of chests.

A former professional wrestler by the name of James Hellwig died recently. Apparently he was known by a stage name, as the Ultimate Warrior.

"Stage" name is appropriate, because as Wikipedia points out in the article entitled professional wrestling:

This article is about wrestling as a form of rehearsed entertainment.

Professional wrestling (often shortened pro wrestling, or simply wrestling) is a mode of spectacle which combines athletic and theatrical performance. It takes the form of events, held by touring companies, which mimic a title match combat sport. The unique form of sport portrayed is fundamentally based on classical and "catch" wrestling, with modern additions of striking attacks, strength-based holds and throws, and acrobatic maneuvers; much of these derive from the influence of various international martial arts. An additional aspect of combat with improvised weaponry is sometimes included to varying degrees.

The matches have predetermined outcomes in order to heighten entertainment value, and all combative maneuvers are executed with the full cooperation of those involved and carefully performed in specific manners intended to lessen the chance of actual injury. These facts were once kept highly secretive but are now a widely accepted open secret. By and large, the true nature of the performance is not discussed by the performing company in order to sustain and promote the willing suspension of disbelief for the audience by maintaining an aura of verisimilitude.

For a very long while I've known, and accepted, that when it comes to popular music, I've missed the entire era of rap and hip hop -- comprehensively, from the very start to right about now. There is no antipathy; merely omission, and as a generally intelligent adult, I understand that having no knowledge of this pervasive musical genre means that I'm hopelessly out of a powerful cultural loop, utterly detached from a powerful shaper of those younger than me -- for two decades or more.

It's fairly clear to me that a 35-year-old has been influenced heavily by such music, whether overtly or subliminally, even if I'm oblivious to it.

What I didn't grasp, at least until recently, is how significant the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), progenitor of the "championship wrestling" of my own youth, has been when it comes to the cultural outlook of a generation now also defining beer geekdom.

I note this for various reasons, chief among them the preening, strutting and exhibitionistic entertainment ethos exemplified by wrestling of this contrived type. Chest-thumping may be the literal, historic contribution of outdated Tarzan movies, but surely this act of masculine boastfulness was perfected by the forever calculating WWF. In the current age of short attention spans of shortened (perhaps obliterated) attention spans, it's the preferred marketing strategy of many breweries.

Better beer and championship wrestling. Maybe there's something to this observation, and maybe not. The connection is not my cup of tea, NABC's Hacksaw Jim Dunkel notwithstanding, but something I've grown accustomed to seeing. I suppose I need to make peace with it; either that, or get riled up, start yelling, and thump my chest. Maybe wield a folding metal chair, or a tire iron.

Seems silly to me.

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