Our love affair with wrestling has been long and varied. From the fledgling years of small network wrestling of the early 1980s to the all-star years of the 1990s, it seemed as though wrestling could only get bigger. The bubble popped with the rise of the internet and the hunger for more relatable reality TV and sport that didn’t feel staged, but recently wrestling has got its mojo back. We are firmly in the post-reality TV era, which may feel strange given that reality TV seems to dominate the airwaves. What this means is that we no longer care that the situations that we watch are contrived. We have consumed so much reality television that we know the formula, and we’re willing to accept it.
When wrestling burst on to the scenes in the early 1980s, reality television was just a glint in the eyes of MTV executives, and Ozzy Osbourne was still laying low after allegedly biting the head off a bat. Wrestling was the beta-reality television. You could tell it had been staged, but it felt so raw, and it was entertaining that it felt real enough. Audiences attended live shows, picked their favorite characters, and created the live studio atmosphere on which wrestling relied. During the 1990s, wrestling was reaching its peak. The WWE was leading the pack with a cable channel, explosive fights, and vicious rivalries. The show often featured high-profile guest stars, including the incumbent president of the United States. Veteran stars of the ring such as Hulk Hogan were beginning to star in their own reality TV shows, and it seemed as though the audience were finally moving away, preferring MTV to the camp pageantry of wrestling stars.
However, it seems as though nearly 20 years later, we’re ready to don lycra once again and revel in new stars and rivalries. Wrestling paved the way for other sports such as MMA and UFC to become huge entertainment businesses, and the popularity of these sports has brought wrestling back to the fore. ESPN now shows wrestling on TV, giving the sport a bigger platform than ever before. This platform has served to help other fighting sports, with Conor McGregor of MMA becoming a household name and UFC taking its place in the mainstream. Gaming is now a hugely marketable part of any sport, and new wrestling games are being released for consoles as well as online. Casumo has recently launched the Luchadora slot, a mexican wrestling game in which players can enjoy all the thrills of being in the ring, for which Canada Casino are currently offering a casino bonus offer. Over on consoles, WWE released their game, 2K19, back in October, proving that wrestling isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The thrill of wrestling may have opened the gates wide open to other wrestling-based sports at the detriment of the brand. However, WWE’s popularity is known to be cyclical, and if history can tell us anything, it's that 2019 may well be WWE’s finest year yet.