Wrestling has always seemed like a big joke to me, consisting of abnormally shiny people pretending to fight each other in the most obviously choreographed ways. It’s continued popularity has mystified me, what was it that could draw thousands of Londoners to the O2 for two consecutive nights of essentially large scale play fighting? These were my cynical thoughts on the tube to North Greenwich. Four hours later I would be a changed man.
I highly recommend going to an event where you don’t know what the hell is going on. Everything is new and interesting. Kids and adults alike hold placards with slogans that you have no clue as to their deeper meaning. Some of the placards featured esoteric quotes from the wrestlers like excerpts from their philosophical teachings. Groups walked around with championship wrestling belts slung casually over their shoulders.
The iconography, the pantheon of characters, the excitement of the crowd all began to rub off on me and by the time the actual wrestling started, I’d been charmed. The whole thing was part gladiatorial contest, part pantomime, part rock concert, part soap opera – there was a stunning altercation between two wrestlers after one accused another of having a secret drinking problem, which the other strenuously denied. ‘Are you seriously telling me and this entire room that you did not have a few pints of BODDINGTONS earlier today??’ Video evidence was then produced showing the accused wrestler sneaking into a pub earlier that day much to the delight of the crowd.
The fighting still felt made-up but watching it closely I began to appreciate the skill involved. Plus I reasoned to myself….do I really want to watch wrestlers actually try and break each others spines for my entertainment? Of course not. The crowd weren’t baying for blood, they knew the deal. The heroes and villains had been long established and I found myself booing and shouting along with everyone else.
I walked into the O2 expecting to take a knowing ‘Isn’t this just a bit silly and kitsch?’ attitude towards the whole thing and left an honest convert. If you ever get the chance to go, trust me…go. It’s a ridiculously fun night out. Patrick Dalton