One of the things I like about professional wrestling is that it has little to no crossover appeal. Fans of football, for example, may enjoy hockey due to similar levels of violence, fans of soccer may enjoy lacrosse because of their similar strategic elements and ball-in-goal type aspirations, but you can’t really go up to any hardcore fan of a particular sport and say “hey, you dig rugby? You might like the athletic pageantry of elaborately staged violence.”
It resembles sports too much to be of any real appeal to a drama junkie or film scholar, it is too dramatic to draw in someone with a thirst for pure competition.
And so then the only people who like pro wrestling are pro wrestling fans, and these are the people who really don’t mind being sucked into a universe where storylines play out in real time for years and years and years. As such, real life events have a tendency to bleed into the storyline universe (which by now you’ve learned is called kayfabe).
PM 6:08: Seamus vs. Daniel Bryan
This is one of those matches where the storyline is somehow less important than the real life circumstances of how it came about. Seamus is your prototypical WWE superstar: hired by Vince McMahon based on huge stature more than charisma or actual ability (and a guy whose rise to prominence in the organization coincided exactly with his decision to start lifting weights with Triple H, a future WWE Hall of Fame wrestler, now a talent-relations guy for the WWE and probable heir apparent to the whole organization once Vince McMahon lies down for life’s final three count).
Daniel Bryan is the exact opposite: by all measures too small to ever succeed in Vince McMahon’s WWE, too athletic and not easily pigeonholed into the pageantry-over-pugilism focus of the organization, he was the top talent in an organization called ROH for years and years, and when he was eventually signed by WWE, it felt like it was because Vince couldn’t put it off any longer. Each measure of his success had a similar feel: he was given a more and more prominent role because management had run out of reasons to not feature him and somehow he ended up holding the second most prestigious title in WWE.
Anyway here’s the advantage the WWE has over organizations like the NFL and, say, college basketball: characters. The WWE deals in creating characters for the audience to either love (“mark out over”) or hate (a hateful reaction is referred to as “heat,” the process of obtaining said reaction is referred to as “drawing” as in “drawing major heat”). Often times, the audience will take these characters and project whatever they can of themselves onto them (Steve Austin made a living in the 90s flicking off Vince McMahon entirely because everyone in America wants to flick off their own boss, not because he flipped a particularly entertaining bird, even though he did). I can project abstractions of derisions of “too small,” “not charismatic enough,” “not athletic enough” onto Daniel Bryan a lot more easily than I can onto Seamus, therefore I like Daniel Bryan more, therefore I want him to win, therefore I watch WrestleMania to see him win. Ultimately, that kind of a relationship between me, a fan, and a talent, whom I’ve never met and who might be an asshole, is what professional wrestling is built on.
(meanwhile, the NFL outlaws essentially any display of individualism on the field, reduces players’ roles to that of faceless commodities of a team, the entity you are supposed to cheer for and support financially)
This is the opening match. The opening match of a show is critical for a number of reasons, the most apparent being that it warms the crowd up (believe it or not, emotional frenzy is not the default setting for a crowd at a wrestling show, it has to be coaxed out of us, earned, something The Rock is good at and, say, Festus was bad at, which is why you’ve heard of The Rock and not that other guy).
The crowd is hot for this match already, with the favor being skewed plainly towards young Daniel, who even though he’s a storyline heel (bad guy) he’s the kind of everyman that a lot of wrestling fans enjoy (Seamus on the other hand is a freak of nature, and as such hard to cheer for even though he’s the face in the storyline). This match can be a classic, an emotional roller coaster to kick off the biggest wrestling event of the year.
Guess what happens?
Daniel Bryan loses in 18 seconds to restore Vince McMahon’s order.
So it goes.
But still, damn it.
 Fans of actual wrestling, the kind you’ll see in the Olympics and in Iowa are notorious for harboring real hatred towards professional wrestling.
 There is a huge difference between the storylines in wrestling and the “storylines” in sports like football or baseball, one that justifies the use of quotation marks: emotional response in real sport comes entirely in response to a fans desire to see his/her team win, or in dramatic events that come up organically, whereas professional wrestling attempts to engineer those responses by creating characters for fans to like/hate and making sure storylines arise. This is not to say that one is more emotional than the other, but wresting is by its very definition more dramatic, because it is drama in the theatrical sense. This is as good a time as any to say that the industry term for fans is “marks.”
 HHH who himself rose to prominence only after palling around with a fellow named Shawn Michaels. It’s a business of connections, if you can make them.
 Think of ROH (Ring of Honor) as the Broadway to WWE’s Hollywood.
 Daniel Bryan is about 5’9’’ and the WWE is notorious for taking talent with successful backgrounds in other organizations and continually squashing them to prove that the WWE really is the “big leagues.”
 I say this without a modicum of irony, but with complete knowledge that all of these titles are meaningless to non-wrestling fans.
 This is possible only because the extreme athleticism of pro wrestlers is presented in less quantifiable ways than a football player or baseball player: it’s a lot easier for me to say “oh, I could totally pull off an elbow drop if I just rallied the old mind to it” than it is for me to say “oh, I could totally throw a football 80 yards if I just rallied the old arm to it.”
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