Pro wrestling, anyone?

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IT’S been called the soap opera for men, a great must-watch that totally engages spectators and draws them into the action. Never mind that the whole thing is a scripted act with timed blows, falls, deadly kicks and punches.

It’s got “action, drama, humor, infidelity, love stories, betrayal, overcoming adversity, facing tough obstacles, pain—both mental and physical, joy, happiness, and family issues,” says sports writer “Doc” Chris Mueller. It can make grown men pay serious attention, if it doesn’t make them cry.

We’re talking about the oldest sport in the world here—wrestling, turned pro—and therefore staged, geared to be more entertainment than sport. It is dramatic, spectacular, and a gripping experience. It has both violence and pageantry, exaggeration, unbridled bullying and “over-the-topness.” But it’s the classic heroes vs. villains story that gets audiences every time.

If you’ve been sucked into a K-Drama, or an 80’s or 90s TV soap opera sometime in your life, you know what pro wrestling fans go through. There are riveting storylines that hook you and make you follow every episode to find out what’s next. There are also psychological rewards that make you feel good afterwards, like catharsis or revenge.

Unlike some boxing matches that can disappoint if the fighters merely dance around each other and just go for points, pro-wrestling guarantees excitement at every turn. True that more men than women are pro-wrestling fans, but market study shows more than 40% WWE fans are female. And then too, female pro wrestlers have their own fandoms that can rival the men’s.

What makes people watch pro wrestling? Dennis DiPaolo, son of the late star wrestler Ilio DiPaolo of the 50s and 60s says “the matches have a story arc,” for one, and wrestlers are masters of drawing out performances that make audiences get involved in the story, even if they know it’s staged.

Actually, the stories can hook you week after week because heroes can get back at villains in the next episode, and how! And you want to be there when it happens.

Sure you know it’s fake and the outcome is predetermined, so why watch? Pro wrestling fans will think that’s a really stupid question. Why on earth do you read novels, or watch a movie? They’ll say “it’s the same thing.” And this one is backed up by pure, bombastic theater. And boy, do we love being entertained.

In the Philippines, pro wrestling fans are still considered to be very niche, but Manila Wrestling Federation, the main Pinoy wrestling promotion is working hard to bring the hype and drama to a larger fanbase. The main dream, says my former student and MWF stalwart Romeo “Pepi” Moran, is to make it a feasible livelihood for everyone, not just something we do on the side of our day jobs.

Well, there may be brighter days ahead for pro wrestling in the Philippines. In 2020, just before the Pandemic caused a major lockdown and three years of isolation, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Famer Rikishi and kinsman Reno “Black Pearl” Anoa’I of the wrestling world’s famed Samoan Dynasty were ready to plant big seeds of professional wrestling in this part of the world.

KnokX Pro, the Samoan Dynasty’s group partnered with RED Boxing International to form WWA (World Wrestling Asia) which aims to grow professional wrestling in the Philippines and spread it to Asia. Long-term, KnokX Pro and RED Boxing International hope to identify, develop and foster local talent, reinvent the professional wrestling landscape in Asia and find Filipino talents to grace the international pro wrestling stage.

The Samoan Dynasty is the most storied lineage in the history of professional wrestling and still reign over the WWE. Originating with “High Chief” Peter Maivia and The Wild Samoans—Afa and Sika Anoa’i—it has continuously churned out some of the world’s greatest professional wrestlers like The Rock, Roman Reigns, Yokozuna, the Usos, The Wild Samoans, and The Headshrinkers. All of them belong to the Samoan Dynasty.

Expect some real action in the pro wrestling scene soon.

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