wrestling / Columns

If Wrestling Is Fake, So Is Politics

February 7, 2020 | Posted by Steve Cook
Dolph Ziggler Tim Ryan

I’ll be honest with you guys. I did not watch the State of the Union Address on Tuesday night. Hey, I work early and it was on after my pre-determined bedtime for the evening. I didn’t even get through all of NWA Powerrr, for heaven’s sake! Knowing that getting sleep on Wednesday night was going to be impossible because of AEW/NXT/Louisville Basketball/podcasting with Larry Csonka, I decided to load up on sleep Tuesday night.

Besides, I’ve never really found the State of the Union Address to be compelling programming. People that know me know that I used to be deeper into the political scene than I am now. Even back then, the SOTU didn’t do much for me. Whether it was Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr. or Obama, my opinion towards the SOTU was “Let me know what they said in the morning”. It was usually going to be a bunch of suggestions, thoughts, ideas & assorted words, most of which didn’t end up going anywhere productive.

Does anybody truly remember anything from any State of the Union Address other than random reaction shots? We remember Paul Ryan looking like Eddie Munster. We remember Nancy Pelosi giving a golf clap. If you live in Kentucky, you remember Steve Beshear doing the Democratic Response and looking like the biggest goober in Gooberland. Or, for more national flavor, we remember Marco Rubio pausing during the Republican Response to take a swig of water. Do we remember anything the President said during his speech those years? Nope.

This year looks like more of the same.

If people remember anything from the 2020 State of the Union Address, they will remember one of two things:

1. Pelosi ripping up her copy of the speech.
2. Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan walking out and delivering the following tweet:

If you’ve followed professional wrestling for any length of time, you knew what was going to happen next: Wrestling fans were going to go banana because that “fake” word gets them all worked up, and wrestlers were going to try & use it to get themselves over. It was as predictable as Democrats getting worked up over whatever Trump had to say on Tuesday night. I’m not going to show you a bunch of lame responses from wrestlers & wrestling fans to Tim Ryan’s tweet. Waste of your time, my time & everybody’s time. I’ll just show you one from somebody that’s familiar with both realms:

Ah, yes. IT’S GOTTA BE KANE that brings some logic & reason to the proceedings. Not so much with what he said, even though most wrestling fans bought it hook, line and sinker. There’s a couple of points I want to unpack here, so bear with me for a minute. First, I need to address the “wrestling fans” side of the argument.

Wrestling is “fake”. Who cares?

Anybody that wants to talk about something being rigged, or untrue, or not in alignment with reality is going to compare it to pro wrestling, since most of the public knows by this point that it’s predetermined. (I would feel bad about writing that if 411 had a better 0-9 year old demo, but we’re doing worse than Fox News there. So it’s ok, I’m probably not breaking any news for anybody.) Yes, we all know that most of what people like to watch on television is also scripted and predetermined, but when the average person wants to describe something as phony, they’ll go to the old pro wrestling chestnut. Everybody has used pro wrestling as the “its fake” comparison since the first person figured out that it was predetermined even though promoters were trying to convince fans that it was legitimate competition like other sporting events.

I don’t make the rules. It’s been a thing since before my father was born.

For whatever reason, wrestling fans are still really sensitive about this. I haven’t related to this feeling since sixth grade. My first year in middle school with brand new kids from a place I didn’t know well. Those kids ate me alive, and my elementary school friends left me for dead for one simple reason…I was a wrestling fan, and it was 1995. Wrestling was decidedly uncool at that point, it was a couple of years before the NWO & WWF Attitude would change things. Being a wrestling fan put a target on my back for a brief period of time. I know I’m not the only one. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably gone through a similar thing at some point.

The thing is, that period brought me to a very important realization. It made me realize that it didn’t really matter what other people thought about me, or my precious pro wrestling. I was still basically the same person a couple of years later when my peers wanted to talk to me about Stone Cold & Goldberg.

People saying bad things about wrestling became something that I tuned out. People have still said bad things about pro wrestling ever since then, and it’s never bothered me once. Because I know that those people that say such bad things about pro wrestling are interested in things that I find just as appalling as they find pro wrestling.

My mom hates wrestling. She loves Lifetime movies. Tell me which is worse.

Sure, tell me I spend way too much time watching a fake sport & writing about it on the Internet. You’re probably right to a certain degree, but I enjoy doing it. Whatever anybody says about the realness or fakeness of pro wrestling at this point doesn’t bother me. It shouldn’t bother you, and it definitely shouldn’t bother those of you that get in the ring and take the bumps. You folks have been hearing “fake” from people longer and louder than we fans have. I imagine you got used to it at some point, otherwise you would have moved on to a real profession like accounting or drag racing.

I’m sure there are some wrestlers out there that still really get their feelings hurt when somebody calls their profession fake. But most of them are smarter than that, and they’re taking occasions like this to score points with wrestling fans and get themselves over. Which is what pro wrestlers do. I can’t really blame them for that, though I can laugh at people buying into it and being all like “YEAH TELL EM, AL SNOW!” like Al Snow isn’t just angling for some likes & retweets from the rubes.

Snow, of course, hailed from Lima, Ohio for the lion’s share of his wrestling career. Lima sits 200 miles from Tim Ryan’s hometown of Niles. Snow & Representative Ryan are from different ends of the state of Ohio, and are from different ends of the wrestling spectrum. Snow lives & breathes it, while Ryan doesn’t appear to have had any notable connection with pro wrestling prior to his tweet.

Or has he? Ryan might not realize it, but the industry he threw himself into when he got into politics right after getting his Political Science degree has a lot in common with the form of entertainment he declared “fake”. In fact…

Politics = Pro Wrestling

I think most of us figured this out back in 1998, when Jesse “The Body” Ventura decided he was going to be the Governor of Minnesota. Non-wrestling fans thought it was an insane idea, but those of us familiar with his work weren’t surprised that he talked his way into office over two bland politicians that didn’t connect as well with the people. The same skillset that you need in order to be a top star in pro wrestling works in politics too.

Was it always that way? Not so much. Back in the day before television became a thing you could get away with being uncharismatic or ugly or just plain boring. Now, you gotta be interesting. You have to have a product that people will want to buy. You need to convince people that what you say is true and they should support you 1000% no matter what. It also helps if you convince people you aren’t a politician. The current President of the United States & the Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee will tell you they aren’t politicians, though they hold job titles that show otherwise.

Politics here in the United States resembles two major wrestling promotions. The fans of the two top political parties resemble the fans of WWF/WCW or WWE/AEW going back & forth. As it turns out, each promotion has a major network deal. The Republicans have Fox News. If you tune into their programming you’ll see how Donald Trump is portrayed as the Hulk Hogan/Steve Austin of his time. He’s the ultimate hero out to put it to those evil doers that are out to ruin America. Fox News has done a remarkable job in getting its base interested in whoever the top draw is. They’ve built some great faces, and they’ve built some great heels too. The Clintons & Barack Obama were better heels for the GOP than they were babyfaces in their own promotion.

Then you have MSNBC, who uses the Democrats as their top faces & the Republicans as their top heels. CNN & the major networks try to play things closer to the vest, but they’ve seen the money to be made with their audience with Donald Trump as a top heel. Fox News airs every Trump speech because their fans love it. The other networks air every Trump speech because their fans love to hate it.

The problem the Democrats have run into over the past few years is really simple, and if you’re a wrestling fan you see it clear as day:

They don’t have a top babyface.

Let’s face it, Hillary Clinton was the Democratic equivalent of Roman Reigns. The DNC wanted her to be the top star so badly, and kept pushing her on top no matter what their fans said. One of the ways they did it: not booking anybody else on her level. Non-Hillary fans resorted to getting behind Bernie Sanders, who was popular on the independent scene but seen by DNC management as a B+ player. People will tell you that Bernie should have been the top guy, but the numbers/votes during the 2016 primary told the DNC a different story.

Mind you, the Republicans had a similar issue before Trump burst onto the scene during their primary. Even at first, a lot of people weren’t sure that he should have been the choice. But one by one, everybody fell in line. Donald Trump seemed like a terrible choice to be the standard bearer for the party of family values & tradition, but Fox News & Trump’s campaign managed to repackage him into exactly what the base wanted. Ever since, they’ve trumpeted every accomplishment to the high heavens and swept any failures under the rug.

The GOP has a vision. They know what their product is and who they’re appealing to. Folks like Tim Ryan and other people in the Democratic Party don’t seem to have much of a clue. Some of them have some solid ideas, but the rest of the crowd shouts them down because they’re not the guy, brother. The DNC will build some people up, but the crowd rejects them because they’re not Daniel Bryan Bernie Sanders. As long as the Democrats can’t decide who their top star is, or what their overall vision is, it’s going to be difficult for them to overtake the Republicans in the ratings/elections.

What I’m saying here is that if Tim Ryan wants to learn more about his profession, he should flip on an episode of Raw or SmackDown. Not my personal choice, but those shows do get the most viewers. Getting the most viewers is typically how you win in politics, unless the Electoral College is involved. Of course, we wrestling fans refer to that as a Dusty Finish.

Study up, Timmy. Your line of work is just as “fake” as that of the wrestlers hanging out in your mentions.

article topics :

Kane, Tim Ryan, WWE, Steve Cook