Defending one's passion for professional wrestling is never an easy task.
Those who don't understand the value of sports entertainment question why men—from young boys to middle-aged business professionals and beyond, enjoy the weekly antics of World Wrestling Entertainment and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling or the allure of a local independent show.
Wrestling's fake, they'll argue. It's a bunch of half-naked men grabbing one another, they'll cry out in defense of their own homophobic vibes.
It's just dumb, they'll retort if they have no better answer.
And, as fans of all ages and backgrounds, we all have our own defenses.
Sure it's predetermined, but look at the athleticism. Even if you don't like the story lines, you've got to respect what these superstars put their bodies through. I used to watch it with my dad and it reminds me of him. It's just entertaining.
All logical answers.
But also all overplayed.
The real answer to why we enjoy professional wrestling the way we do may be found at a much deeper level. A passion for this brand of sports entertainment may be embedded deep in our hearts as men.
Let it be noted that the following discussion will pertain primarily to male wrestling fans. Women readers should not be discouraged; this may help you understand those around you who enjoy wrestling, possibly those who brought you on board.
And in the end, you can find yourself as part of this too, but we'll reach that part of our journey soon enough.
In his book "Wild at Heart," well-respected Christian author John Eldridge states the case that when God made Adam, he instilled three core desires into his heart and those desires have been passed down through countless generations.
Deep within each man's heart lives these three primary desires:
1. To have a battle to fight
2. An adventure to live
3. A beauty to rescue
Through the millenia and countless cultural shifts, man has lost much of the focus on these desires and they often remain dormant through his entire life.
Society has presented man with a different societal norm; one that requires men to be calm, passionate, nice and in many ways, feminine as Eldridge contends.
In "Wild at Heart," Eldridge uses many examples of young boys and men living out these desires: a 6-year-old boy decked out in cowboy attire with his toy pistols at his side; an elder Southern gentleman recounting his story of nearly being swept away in a tidal wide at sea and the history of great explorers, willing to take the chances and fight the beliefs of the time a la Magellan and Christopher Columbus.
But, in many ways, the three desires Eldridge believes live in all of us can be brought to life; at least vicariously, through our passion for professional wrestling.
Think back to your individual childhoods or even the teen-age years, when you first discovered the glory of professional wrestling.
Yes, at the time many of us were much less exposed to the inner workings of sports entertainment and allowed ourselves to be swept up in the excitement.
The memories of my early passion for wrestling don't go back very far.
Unfortunately, as a side effect of that passion, I've taken one too many shots to the head with heavy objects like text books and even brick walls to remember those early days.
But talk about having an adventure to live. Being on the giving or receiving end of a Rock Bottom on a trampoline or emulating a hardcore match with impromptu items in the living room.
It doesn't get any better than that.
Even when fans, especially younger ones, aren't physically living out the adventure themselves, they're doing it vicariously through the superstars they see on television.
And that's where the battle to fight ties in as well.
If wrestling companies have done one thing right through the years, it's provide fans with a hero to cheer for, a hero to support, a hero to envision fighting alongside.
Now, the type of heroes children admire has changed as wrestling has progressed but that passion to be a superstar has never diminished.
Whether it was children who wanted to be Stone Cold Steve Austin— likely much to their parents' chagrin or those who want to be John Cena; everyone wanted to be someone in that ring.
And then, there's the final desire: a beauty to rescue.
How many times have wrestling story lines dealt with winning the heart of a lovely woman or rescuing her from some kind of danger?
These storylines have been a staple of professional wrestling for years, but has anyone stopped to wonder why?
Through time, wrestling officials have realized the connections that fans have with these types of stories and as Eldridge points out, are those desires live in the hearts of all men.
Sure, in modern times women of wrestling have been somewhat downgraded into being used to elicit sexual impulses from male audiences; but while this may be true, women would still play a prominent role in men's fandom if they weren't used as purely scantily clad eye candy.
And while on the topic of women, let's discuss their roles in this whole scenario.
In "Wild at Heart," Eldridge addresses the perspective of women by saying they have at least two natural, supplemental desires built into their hearts: to be a part of the adventure and to be the beauty.
I can't speak for all the female wrestling fans out there, but for many, I believe these desires are either consciously or subconsciously at work in their passion for sports entertainment.
Females often want to "hang with the guys," especially at certain phases in their development cycles and what better way to integrate oneself than undergo a complete immersion into one of their most passionate hobbies?
And as mentioned above, the women of wrestling are often being fought over.
What makes a woman feel more special than having multiple adorers challenging for her affection?
Think of the somewhat recent TNA storyline involving Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt and So Cal Val where Lethal and Val developed a relationship and she became the happiest woman on Earth.
Then, at the wedding, a second man, Dutt, announced his feelings for her, too. In the following weeks, Val watched as two men did battle for her affection, making her both the beauty being fought for and a part of the adventure.
Yes, this storyline is scripted but the same principles apply in real life.
Not to claim that most engagements and marriages end badly, but look at the high divorce rates in America.
Obviously the women were not feeling part of the adventure and like the beauty with their original spouse.
So now, here we come to the conclusion.
Many readers may disagree with these theories, but if you're one of them, do yourself a favor and stop and think about it for a while.
Let the thoughts of your wrestling roots mull around your mind for days.
If you still disagree, to each his own, but maybe you will realize the three desires living in your own heart and find other ways to capitalize on them outside of wrestling.
But whenever a man's feeling that pit in his heart and stomach growing in desperation, he knows he can always turn to the world of sports entertainment to find his battle to fight, his adventure to live, and his beauty to rescue.
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