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Performance and Professional Wrestling is the first edited volume to consider professional wrestling explicitly from the vantage point of theatre and performance studies. Moving beyond simply noting its performative qualities or reading it via other performance genres, this collection of essays offers a complete critical reassessment of the popular sport. Topics such as the suspension of disbelief, simulation, silence and speech, physical culture, and the performance of pain within the squared circle are explored in relation to professional wrestling, with work by both scholars and practitioners grouped into seven short sections: Audience Circulation Lucha Gender Queerness Bodies Race A significant re-reading of wrestling as a performing art, Performance and Professional Wrestling makes essential reading for scholars and students intrigued by this uniquely theatrical sport.
Performance and Professional Wrestling is the first edited volume to consider professional wrestling explicitly from the vantage point of theatre and performance studies. Moving beyond simply noting its performative qualities or reading it via other performance genres, this collection of essays offers a complete critical reassessment of the popular sport. Topics such as the suspension of disbelief, simulation, silence and speech, physical culture, and the performance of pain within the squared circle are explored in relation to professional wrestling, with work by both scholars and practitioners grouped into seven short sections: Audience Circulation Lucha Gender Queerness Bodies Race A significant re-reading of wrestling as a performing art, Performance and Professional Wrestling makes essential reading for scholars and students intrigued by this uniquely theatrical sport.
Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage examines professional wrestling as a century-old, theatrical form that spans from its local places of performance to circulate as a popular, global product. Professional wrestling has all the trappings of sport, but is, at its core, a theatrical event. This book acknowledges that professional wrestling shares many theatrical elements such as plot, character, scenic design, props, and spectacle. By assessing professional wrestling as a neglected but prototypical case study in the global business of theatre, Laine argues that it is an exemplary form of globalizing, commercial theatre. He asks what theatre scholars might learn from pro wrestling and how pro wrestling might contribute to conversations beyond the ring, by considering the laboring bodies of the wrestlers, and analyzing wrestling’s form and content. Of interest to scholars and students of theatre and performance, cultural studies, and sports studies, Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage delimits the edges of wrestling’s theatrical frame, critiques established understandings of corporate theatre, and offers key wrestling concepts as models for future study in other fields.
Professional wrestling is one of the most popular performance practices in the United States and around the world, drawing millions of spectators to live events and televised broadcasts. The displays of violence, simulated and actual, may be the obvious appeal, but that is just the beginning. Fans debate performance choices with as much energy as they argue about their favorite wrestlers. The ongoing scenarios and presentations of manly and not-so-manly characters—from the flamboyantly feminine to the hypermasculine—simultaneously celebrate and critique, parody and affirm the American dream and the masculine ideal. Sharon Mazer looks at the world of professional wrestling from a fan’s-eye-view high in the stands and from ringside in the wrestlers’ gym. She investigates how performances are constructed and sold to spectators, both on a local level and in the “big leagues” of the WWF/E. She shares a close-up view of a group of wrestlers as they work out, get their faces pushed to the mat as part of their initiation into the fraternity of the ring, and dream of stardom. In later chapters, Mazer explores professional wrestling’s carnivalesque presentation of masculinities ranging from the cute to the brute, as well as the way in which the performances of women wrestlers often enter into the realm of pornographic. Finally, she explores the question of the “real” and the “fake” as the fans themselves confront it. First published in 1998, this new edition of Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle both preserves the original’s snapshot of the wrestling scene of the 1980s and 1990s and features an up-to-date perspective on the current state of play.
A wildly popular form of mass media and live entertainment, professional wrestling makes a spectacle of violent acts. With its long history of working contemporary events into storylines and commenting upon cultural and military conflicts, professional wrestling is also intrinsically political. Its performance--theatricalities, machinations and conditions of production, figurations, and audiences--arises from and engages with the world around. Whether flowing with the mainstream of popular culture or fighting at the fringes, professional wrestling shows us how we are fighting, what we are fighting about, and what we are fighting for. This edited volume asks how professional wrestling is implicated in the current resurgence of populist politics, whether right-wing and Trump-inflected, or leftist and socialist. How might it do more than reflect and, in so doing, reaffirm the status quo? While provoked by the disruptive performances of Trump as candidate and president, and mindful of his longstanding ties to the WWE, this timely volume looks more broadly and internationally at the infusion of professional wrestling's worldview into the twinned discourses of politics and populism. The contributors are scholars from a wide range of disciplines: theater and performance studies; cultural, media, and communication studies; anthropology and sociology; and gender and sexuality studies. Together they argue that the game's popularity and its populist tendencies open it to the left as well as to the right, to contestation as well as to conformity, making it an ideal site for working on feminist and activist projects and ideas.
Part sport, part performance art, professional wrestling's appeal crosses national, racial and gender boundaries--in large part by playing to national, racial and gender stereotypes that resonate with audiences. Scholars who study competitive sports tend to dismiss wrestling, with its scripted outcomes, as "fake," yet fail to recognize a key similarity: both present athletic displays for maximized profit through live events, television viewership and merchandise sales. This collection of new essays contributes to the literature on pro wrestling with a broad exploration of identity in the sport. Topics include cultural appropriation in the ring, gender non-comformity, national stereotypes, and wrestling as transmission of cultural values.
In this dissertation, I explored professional wrestling as a staple of popular culture, and questioned a phenomenon that is a driving force behind the industry. Specifically, I studied the role of the "bad guy" in professional wrestling, also referred to as the "Heel." After attending 12 live professional wrestling events and 20 in-depth qualitative interviews with professional wrestlers, this dissertation uses the lens of performance ethnography and theories of performance and identity to study the transactional nature of the performance of the Heel and audience feedback. This dissertation also explores how the performance is conducted physically as well as verbally.
The millions of fans who watch World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) programs each year are well aware of their role in building the narrative of the sport. #WWE: Professional Wrestling in the Digital Age explores the intersections between media, technology, and fandom in WWE's contemporary programming and business practices. In the Reality Era of WWE (2011 to the present), wrestling narratives have increasingly drawn on real-life personalities and events that stretch beyond the story-world created and maintained by WWE. At the same time, the internet and fandom have a greater influence on the company than ever before. By examining various sites of struggle and negotiation between WWE executives and in-ring performers, between the product and its fans, and between the company and the rest of the wrestling industry, the contributors to this volume highlight the role of various media platforms in shaping and disseminating WWE narratives. Treating the company and its product not merely as sports entertainment, but also as a brand, an employer, a company, a content producer, and an object of fandom, #WWE conceptualizes the evolution of professional wrestling's most successful company in the digital era.
Professional wrestling is one of the most popular performance practices in the United States and around the world, drawing millions of spectators to live events and televised broadcasts. The displays of violence, simulated and actual, may be the obvious appeal, but that is just the beginning. Fans debate performance choices with as much energy as they argue about their favorite wrestlers. The ongoing scenarios and presentations of manly and not-so-manly characters--from the flamboyantly feminine to the hypermasculine--simultaneously celebrate and critique, parody and affirm the American dream and the masculine ideal. Sharon Mazer looks at the world of professional wrestling from a fan's-eye-view high in the stands and from ringside in the wrestlers' gym. She investigates how performances are constructed and sold to spectators, both on a local level and in the "big leagues" of the WWF/E. She shares a close-up view of a group of wrestlers as they work out, get their faces pushed to the mat as part of their initiation into the fraternity of the ring, and dream of stardom. In later chapters, Mazer explores professional wrestling's carnivalesque presentation of masculinities ranging from the cute to the brute, as well as the way in which the performances of women wrestlers often enter into the realm of pornographic. Finally, she explores the question of the "real" and the "fake" as the fans themselves confront it. First published in 1998, this new edition of Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle both preserves the original's snapshot of the wrestling scene of the 1980s and 1990s and features an up-to-date perspective on the current state of play.
A provocative and personal study of professional wrestlers in training and in performance
Tries to explain the attraction of professional wrestling, offers profiles of notable wrestlers, and describes modern wrestling fans.

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