Should your roommate (Fig. 1, “Sam”) purchase a projector for your apartment, you may experience a televisual shift away from your traditional solo-Netflix viewership. Through an HDMI attachment to a laptop, beaming the projection across a Bradburian chunk of your living room wall may cause an increase in sharing one another’s company during screen time, particularly during the playoffs.
In many cases no problems will arise from this A/V paradigm shift; however, should you feel self-conscious about covering half the length of your apartment in the piss poor acting of oily welterweights, continue to section II.
Should your roommate consider your glowing wall depicting men brutalizing one another with folding chairs (Fig. 2, “WWE Extreme Rules Pay Per View,” air date Apr. 26 2015) with only slightly more interest than he’d pay to the Home Shopping Network and slightly less than he’d pay to loud-ish static, one can employ one of many strategies:
- Change the projection to display something more wholesome. Perhaps All That Heaven Allows, or Steph Curry ripping the Pelicans’ souls out their mouths.
- Defend the legitimacy of WWE programming, claiming it’s no more or less fixed than the Mayweather-Pacquiao match you’re considering shlepping to a crowded sports bar to watch together, okay, man?
- Explain to [roommate] that WWE matches are easier to follow once you accept that every professional wrestler, bar none, hasn’t yet developed object permanence.
Experts (Fig. 3, “The extremely attractive author”) suggest the third option in their best practice guidelines (see below).
Ziggler doubles over, reeling from Sheamus’s assault. Still clutching his chest, eyes on the ground, the wounded Ziggler immediately stumbles back toward Sheamus, who delivers further punishing blows.1
“He just went right back to the source of the pain,” Sam commented.
Herein lies the quibble most non-WWE fans have with the spectacle. it’s not that it’s fake — every graduate of the third grade understands professional wrestling isn’t a sport in the same way professional baseball is a sport. Everyone knows it’s fake, and most everyone is fine with that. The problem many non-fans have is that wrestling is so damn silly. Decontextualized, wrestling is huge men (A) shouting out other huge men (B), then acting shocked when B arrives to kick A’s ass. In fact, many wrestlers spend a good portion of their matches apparently baffled that their opponent (B) did not acquiesce to a time-out and attacked them when they (A) weren’t looking. Other favorite tropes include, but are not limited to:
- I (A) went to hit our opponent (B) but they ducked out of the way so I hit you, partner (C) instead, but you didn’t see B move so now you think A (I) attacked you on purpose, mea culpa,
- I turned my back to you and staggered away but still somehow you hit me, wizard opponent,
- I failed to notice I was idly standing in a small group of my allies, inadvertently providing you ample cushion for an aerial assault,
- I was hamming it up for the crowd and failed to remember my current participation in a wrestling match at all, why did you have to hit me with that chair to remind me though
Among others. All of these can be explained by remembering that professional wrestlers lack object permanence, and therefore have difficulty considering that Randy Orton, for example, lives to sneak up behind his opponents and RKO them into next month.
This [roster-wide deficit of object permanence] may explain the significance of championship belts as signifiers of accomplishment to professional wrestlers. Anything that can be worn can’t be as easily lost or forgotten about. Belts also have the added benefit of being visible at all times to one’s (B), so long as the title-holding wrestler is visible. (If they have escaped their opponent’s line of sight, their opponent may have no idea who the current title holder is, which can cause intense confusion. This has proved an effective combat technique in previous matches.)
The literal significance of the signature beginning to John Cena’s five-knuckle shuffle finisher, wherein Cena (Fig. 4, Terrible, just terrible) waves his fingers in front of his face2 while declaring “You can’t see me,” cannot be overstated. This is how he wins matches.
They can’t see him.
Accepting that wrestlers lack object permanence recontextualizes the entire WWE experience. Where before one saw mediocre actors flailing about, going through the inevitable motions leading up to a beatdown, viewers may suddenly experience something akin to empathy for the confused, hulking baby-men trying to figure out why their heads hurt all of the sudden.
It imbues the unique physics engine in which pro wrestlers operate with a logical underpinning; interestingly, this logic may also stir up something akin to empathy in the wrestling audience (Figures 1 and 3, in this instance). If they (wrestlers) truly don’t know what’s going on half the time — where their opponent ran off to, who grabbed their leg from behind and dragged them out of the ring, etc. — one can’t help but feel kind of bad for mammals inhabiting such a violent, confusing world.
Understanding this system may elevate (Fig. 1)’s enjoyment of (Fig. 2) until Game of Thrones comes on.