Reconciling Wrestling Fandom With the Presidential Election

Pro wrestling is easily the dominant force in my life. Besides writing for and being an indie wrestler, I train people to wrestle three or four days a week.

Lex Luger came to our gym a week ago Wednesday night. He couldn't have been nicer. He's a slender middle-aged man now, who uses a wheelchair to help him move around, if you can imagine that. He was modest and took a great deal of interest in every person in the room, specifically asking everyone to tell him their story about how they got involved in wrestling. For someone who had more match experience than everyone in the room combined, he deferred to us at times when giving feedback after watching practice matches, yet still had plenty of his own insight to add. Lex could've easily made his visit to our gym into a payday for himself as a seminar, which our gym would've been happy to do for him, and students would've paid. Instead he insisted on talking with us as a favor to our students, most of whom he hadn't even met yet.

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Being in a room full of kindness, real smiles and people supporting each other to learn was much needed after the mood I'd been left in from the news of the previous night's election.

Not everyone reading may agree, but this feels like a national disaster. It feels like many deeply-if-quietly-held racist and sexist sentiments, the worst parts of people, have been legitimized -- the same awful parts so many pro wrestling promoters have exploited for decades (and continue to do so) with numerous xenophobic gimmicks, racist angles and misogynistic overtones. So maybe it only makes sense the face of this movement in the United States is a WWE Hall of Famer and a key to the most lucrative pro wrestling pay-per-view of all-time.

For many of us, things will still be normal, at least for a while. That's easy to say as one of the white young men who overwhelmingly populate wrestling media. I can't say the same as easily for our neighbors of color and our LGBT and female friends. The mistreatment or outright hatred of over half the population seems to have been affirmed by the election of my country's highest office.

What now for wrestling fans? Do we just forget about it and get right back into the escapism of watching wrestling? In the early days of a possible tyrant and potential destroyer of humanity coming to power, do I just now go back to the spreadsheets and Google docs and continue doing research about who drew what on a certain day to see some guys have a match with a predetermined finish? It sounds absurd.

Wrestling is ingrained in just about everything I do. I'm not advocating this way of life, but my personality would have to be practically uprooted for me to not follow, study and write about wrestling. I do wonder though if some of the time we've spent on wrestling might be better spent elsewhere, and if we had spent some of that time elsewhere whether the stupor that allows political moments like the current one might've been preempted. The time to be a passive citizen, if it was ever permissible, is not now.

I don't have grand answers. I know wrestling is a medium of social bonding for many, maybe even catharsis. It is for me. It still will be.

Take care of yourselves, do what you love, but not at the expense of forgetting to love one another and fighting for what's right. The hardest part is to remember to love people you haven't even met, who you'll never meet, who may be as distracted as us, and more vulnerable.

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