Ignite Philly is a speaker series wherein the creative local minds of the city give brief educational and entertaining five-minute slide-assisted talks about whatever their ‘scene’ may be. Recently, legendary independent wrestler and actual human cartoon Mike Quackenbush spoke on the art and the magic of pro wrestling.
Within those five minutes, the Chikara founder and trainer succinctly breaks down the argument against calling pro wrestling ‘fake,’ and the best defense of loving what is, at heart, a completely ridiculous form of entertainment.
Unlike any movie, TV show, any novel or comic book, pro wrestling is a uniquely dynamic experience. No movie will respond to your cheers or jeers. A novel will not high-five you should you pass by. A television show is a static experience projected onto a 2D screen. But a professional wrestler may land in your lap if you happen to be seated in the front row.
The best kind of pro wrestling aspires to take you on an emotional journey — to thrill you when an underdog triumphs, to resonate with you deeply when one tag team partner betrays another. It engages you in the chase for glory and it drags you through the valley of defeat. And it even grants you access to that most intimate of moments when someone’s lifelong dream is fulfilled. …the restorative catharsis our performance generates is shared between the people that craft it, and the fans that go on the journey with us. My friends, there’s nothing fake about that.
Now, if you know me, you know that there isn’t a collective group of people I could love more, either personally or professionally, than those in Chikara. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have criticisms of the past few seasons, and it’s far from perfect, but the fact remains that within pro wrestling itself, it’s the people who operate within these ideals who remind me of just how special pro wrestling can be, and why there’s nothing in the world I love more. Though he’s explaining this to a group of non-wrestling fans, I’m sure all of us can find something in this explanation that resonates, and at the very least explains why we keep coming back no matter how much pro wrestling lets these ideas down.