WWE returned to American Airlines Center this Sunday, and this being a culture blog, we asked Jaime-Paul Falcone to go and send a sketch of what exactly goes at a WWE Live event. Drama, that's what. Lots of drama, plus merchandising.
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Scene 1: Thousands of neon-clad children run through the aisles of the American Airlines Center, their parents trying to control them as excitement builds. The reason for the neon, and the reason most of the children are here, is professional wrestler John Cena. Cena is a man who looks as if he was chiseled out of marble by a Renaissance artist who received prophetic dreams that gave him glimpses into the pages of Muscle & Fitness and Men's Health magazines. He's also the face of professional wrestling, a man who looks like a real life super hero, and the man every small boy wants to be. Calm, cool, collected and usuall dressed in eye-catching colors that accentuate his giant muscles, he's the reason World Wrestling Entertainment is able to pack an arena on a random Sunday afternoon.
He's also not here.
An announcer stands in the ring and says John Cena is not there (he's off filming a movie with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey at the moment). Any fans who want refunds have 20 minutes to get them. On cue, the theme music of wrestling and pop culture legend Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair hits, and out steps the legend himself. Thoughts of refunds quickly pass.
Scene 2: Professional wrestling's roots are steeped in the world of carnivals; it's stories - and there are always stories behind the wrestling - are simple, steeped in stereotypes and engaging. In the ring below, one of these stories is being told. Seth Rollins may be one of the most handsome men I've ever seen, but he's dressed like a deep sea diver and has a permanent sneer on his face. He's the black hat, the bad guy. His opponent Dean Ambrose is dressed like a low-rent stepfather in a bad play. His eyes look manic, and he's prone to throwing tantrums every few seconds. He's loudly cheered and is considered the good guy. The story they're telling is one of revenge: at some point in the recent past Rollins aggrieved Ambrose, and Ambrose is determined to settle the score. What's interesting about all this is watching how not only the two performers work together, but also how the referee works with them.
Yes, wrestling is scripted, and it might be the most interesting part of it. Watching the referee convey direction from the ring announcer who seems to be in charge of everything to the performers is a marvel to see. To add to the air of excitement, an obviously planted fan sits in the front row starting, and stopping cheers. We may be in a state-of-the-art arena, but we're never far from the carnival. More »