Or "Mia and Marty Go To The Sideshow...er, uh TNA Wrestling."
Professional wrestling (PW) or wrasslin' or it is commonly known is all show and part sport. It is know, rather jokingly in this household. as Ballet For Guys. Think about what ballet has: music, sets, lighting, stars, a storyline, people in costumes leaping about, lifting each other, showing superb athletic skills and control. In a nutshell, that's Ballet. Think Swan Lake. Think Nutcracker. Think bored men for centuries who only went to the ballet to check out the babes.
Wrasslin' has all these elements. Loud music, a set (the ring), lighting, a storyline (Guy #1 hates Guy #2 because Guy #1 slept with his girlfriend, etc.), most definitely STARS who are mostly men in tight shorts, unitards and tightly laced boots showing rather superb athletic skills with mostly fake throws, punches, lifts and smack-downs. Ballet's "releve" is Wrasslin's standing on the ropes, posing (see picture). Think movie fighting scenes WITHOUT the Foley art thrown in. There is no sound when they "connect." Which was really weird because I've witnessed real fights and there is a lot of sound. There was a strange hollow, reverberating wood sound when they hit the floor of the ring. Now throw in some REALLY bad acting with Snidely Whiplash type villainy complete with the audience booing and you've pretty much got PW.
Now my Spousal Unit has been a fan of Wrasslin' since he was a wee tyke and I mean wee. Every Thursday night, without fail, he gets a pizza and watches Ballet For Guys Or as it's called in this household, even more jokingly and in a very bad French accent, "Bal-lay Du Geez." Of course this is grammatically atrocious and quite incorrect but that's what it's called here.
My S.U. can recite the lineage of PW like an aristocrat can proclaim the generations of his prize-winning horses. He knows which bush leagues these guys (and gals) came up from and the various reiterations of different Wrasslin' organizations. He used to watch every Monday and Thursday nights. I was beginning to feel like a Wrasslin' Widow. Wrasslin' is on TV all 52 weeks of the year. And then there are the Pay Per Views, which thankfully he doesn't do unless he knows an equally rabid Wrasslin' fan and they share the fee. As a result of living with a Wrasslin' fan I do know some of the bigger stars by name if not sight. Some of the former Wrasslers go on to movie careers (The Rock comes to mind), philanthropic works (Goldberg, who works tirelessly for animals, dogs especially) or even politics.
So when TNA announced they were coming to Akron, my SU expressed an wistful interest in going. He scoffed when I said I'd go with him.
"You hate wrasslin'!"
"Yes but YOU like it and you won't go by yourself. Besides, it's live theater. I like....uh, live theater! It'll be a....(Quick, Mia, think) a.... cultural experience." So off to the Civic Theater we go!
A professional wrestling show? My prurient lookee-lookee inner self rubbed its hands with glee. It could positively be STREWN with People Of Walmart! Think of the possibilities of extraordinary Bad Taste and Tackiness. Why this could be fodder for my evil-twin brain for WEEKS!
Other than the really freaky-scary looking dude with the face makeup, more than a few Goth types and (oh, gods help us) the not-even-a-size-14 girl in light colored (pink? blue?) stretchy sequined tank top *(See notes below), the crowd was disappointingly NORMAL looking. Just regular folks. That surprised me. I loved the 12 year old girl behind us while we waited identifying every guy on stage, educating her dad. I loved the guy sitting next to us with his college-aged son wryly admitting to me, "I don't even know who any of these people ARE."
By paying extra, Marty got autographs from some of the wrestlers. I shook their hands (while filming) and thanked them for coming. I felt eerily as though I were in a receiving line!!
While we are waiting, I find out (much to my stunned surprise) that my SU, this huge fan, HAS NEVER SEEN A LIVE SHOW! So it was a honor to be with him and share this experience with him!
Now to describe live professional wrestling; it's part circus sideshow, part athletic event, part rock concert (complete with really noisy audience), part badly-acted theater. The merchandising is plentiful, the "sell" is hard. They want you to buy stuff. Think Carnival Barker or Snake Oil Salesman and you've got it. The more you buy, the more likely you are to meet one of your heroes up close or have your picture taken with them. The big package was a replica of the World Heavyweight Champion Belt, (in gen-u-ine pleather and some kind of embossed pseudo-metal) for $375.
You read that correctly. Three hundred seventy five buckeroos. Oh, but it came with a program and a DVD set, a $500 value total but on sale today, just for this show ONLY! (Think infomerical.)
When we got to our seats, a young boy, maybe 12 or so and his parents sat down and had purchased not one but TWO of these packages. Total cost before the candy and soda he was stuffing down his pouty, whiny, ungrateful throat ---- $900 including tickets. His parents were more into the event than Junior. I'm sorry, but $900 ---- that's a cruise!! That could be a couple of days in Europe, flight included if you planned it right.
All said, I thought it was a fun evening. Not like Comedian Fun but fun. The best fight, from a realistic-looking point of view, were the two women. Marty just assumed from his TV watching they were Amazons. The ladies were quite tiny, under 5'5" and very pretty. The guys had nice bods and they are all very athletic, all those lifts, throws and prat-falls. It is hokey, fake and a little bit tawdry but it can be dangerous and people have been seriously injured, crippled and killed doing it. I was thrilled that I got to watch Marty enjoying himself, yelling, booing and cheering along with the rest of the crowd.
I was rooting for the British guy even though he's supposed to be a baddie. He had a cool accent.
*See the Unwritten Social/Fashion Rules:
People of a Certain Size/Age should NEVER Wear Spandex especially on the upper half of their bodies.
Sequins and Rhinestones, while always appropriate, should be worn In Moderation. Even by Drag Queens.