For those who have never been to a live professional wrestling show before, each experience can be vastly different, just like going to see new films.
The pro wrestling that airs on television is only a sample of what the genre brings to the table. Shows can range between wild supernatural themed spectacles to serious presentations, similar to a mixed martial arts show or boxing match.
It is truly an art form because both the promoter and the participants can paint any sort of picture that they want.
The structure of a basic professional wrestling match follows the same rules of a good film or any coherent story; the protagonist seeks to achieve a goal (win a match) but experiences adversity (their opponent) along the way. There are inciting incidents and climaxes, and not always a happy ending.
It’s all in the presentation of the show and, like the inevitable presence of both good and bad films, there are good and bad pro wrestling performances.
The true artistry comes from the wrestlers themselves. At the independent level the wrestlers are the ones who piece the match together. Unlike the WWE which employs former wrestlers to tell the current roster what they can and cannot do, independent wrestlers generally create their art on their own. Some choose kid-friendly comedy matches involving slapstick, while others crank up the violence using weapons and (real) blood in order to tell their story.
If that story is good, then it can elicit the same emotional response that any work of art can from a live crowd.
Like a Kabuki play, the structure of a pro-wrestling is intended to create an uproar in the audience. Both the wrestlers and the Kabuki actors exhibit their own interpretations of characters, appearances, mannerisms, and vocal cues creating a suspension of disbelief for the audience with the intention of full immersion into the story.
The director of a film generally aims to create a product which allows the viewer to immerse themselves into another world outside of reality. Pro-wrestling is much the same. Those who attend shows are meant to believe that they are viewing a real fight, and bragging rights are fiercely stake.
With only minutes to achieve an emotional connection to the crowd, each match becomes a true test of the capabilities of the performers.
Some do it with high flying acrobatics while springing off the turnbuckle while others do it with what seems like real strikes to the skull. Regardless of the style, there are endless ways to entertain on the stage within the ropes of a wrestling ring.
In the same fashion as a play, circus, or open mic night at a comedy club the performers in professional wrestling are entertainers. They are taught to “feel” the audience for reactions and instructed to adjust accordingly by their trainers. Most independent wrestlers perform as a hobby rather than for a living. Few wrestling jobs exist that will earn enough to support a family. Those who perform do it out of love for the art.