Whether you watch professional wrestling or prefer other sports, there's one thing that can't be denied: it's extremely popular. WWF wrestlers aggressively train and put their bodies on the line nearly every night for the enjoyment of the fans. That's not too different from a circus. So the question must be asked: Are wrestling and the circus really so different?
In the early days, wrestling was nothing more than a strongman competition. The challenge was to last ten minutes in the ring; a feat few people ever accomplished. Promoters learned that there was more money to be made if the outcome was predetermined, so they went that route. Crowds, however, quickly became bored.
The wrestlers decided to change it up a bit. Noticing that crowds were tired of the nearly hour-long competitions, legendary promoter Joseph Mondt invented what he called "Slam Bang" wrestling, and convinced promoters to promote it as much as they promoted their vaudeville acts.
Is it Really So Different?
Wrestling, since its early days, has been predetermined, and today's professional wrestling matches are no different. The outcomes are determined prior to the match, but what happens in the ring is made up on the spot. You'll often hear wrestlers calling out spots so the other guy knows what to do.
People still pay. They know it's rigged, and they know it's "not real", but it's entertaining, much like the circus is. What's different, though, is that wrestling is done without the wires and the safety measures that are taken at carnivals. It's also significantly less violent than wrestling, so when you purchase Ringling Brothers circus tickets on a site like Scorebig.com, you know exactly the type of performance that you'll be getting.
When you stop and actually watch some of the action in WWF matches today, you might be a bit surprised. It's not always mat action; in fact, there are very few purely technical wrestlers today. Most wrestlers mix in different styles of training, whether that's Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Greco-Roman, or whatever other training they have. This leads to some challenging, but entertaining matches.
For example, take someone like Mark Henry. Mark Henry is the world's strongest man, and he's not afraid to show off that strength. You're obviously not going to see someone like Mark Henry doing sunset flips or anything of the sort. Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, on the other hand, are much different. They have a lucha libre background, which is very similar to circus performers. When two lucha libre wrestlers going at it, you're going to see all sorts of flips. These guys perform death-defying maneuvers each and every time they get in the ring, purely for your entertainment.
Things Can Go Wrong
It's not all fun and games, though. As mentioned earlier, they don't have any safety nets, and accidents do happen. Mitsuharu Misawa was a legend in Japan. One night, while teaming with Go Shiozaki against Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith, things went horribly wrong. Saito performed a belly to back suplex on Misawa. After the awkward landing, Misawa lost consciousness and was rushed to a hospital, where he later died.
Owen Hart is another example of entertainment gone wrong. In May of 1999, Owen Hart was scheduled to be lowered from the rafters in his Blue Blazer outfit. Something went seriously wrong that evening, and he became dislodged from his harness. Owen Hart fell from the ceiling of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, and died shortly afterward. Since then, WWE has not used any sort of wild aerial stunts that would put any of its performers in danger.
As you can tell, professional wrestling and the circus really don't have much of a difference. The wrestlers have a much bigger stage, but they don't have the safety that's provided from working in a circus. Everything is rehearsed and predetermined, but the result is still infinitely entertaining. What do you think? Have you ever considered how similar professional wrestling and the circus are? Leave a comment below and let us know.