The enduring popularity of professional wrestling draws parallels with the durability and resilience of the wrestlers themselves: it is difficult to recall any other global sport so frequently derided and yet passionately loved by a dedicated fanbase.
Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the world, reaching back as far as Ancient Greece and even 15,000-year-old cave drawings in France that depict the sport being played.
It remained popular as a serious sport in the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century and, driven by the explosion of the World Wrestling Federation (now rebranded World Wrestling Entertainment) in the 1980s, it became a more colourful, circus-style arena sport, where outlandish characters adopted inventive costumes and personas to add a major dose of theatricality to the proceedings.
While the ratings levels seen back in the 1980s and 1990s are a distant memory, the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is in 2019 on course to generate the highest revenues in the company’s history, thanks to billion-dollar TV deals with NBC and Fox. A comparative latecomer to the live streaming boom, WWE’s new deals finally look set to capitalise on this increasingly popular method of consuming TV content.
The irresistible star quality of many wrestlers, and their undoubted charisma in performing roles that range from the dark and sinister to the outright comical, is just one of the many reasons for the impressive longevity of the sport.
“In North America at least, wrestling has long been about much more than just the actual sport,” said a spokesperson for the Wrestling Agency, an Ontario-based talent agency for current and former wrestlers who can be hired for TV and film, corporate events, fundraisers or private parties.
“Despite all the usual mockery about the sport being fake, and the showbiz side eclipsing the professional sport aspect, wrestlers actually work extremely hard and are hugely dedicated – people don’t often realise how much they sacrifice to stay in shape for such a physically demanding sport.
“The guys take an enormous amount of punishment during matches and yet they are still required to stay in character throughout, and even the costumes can pose a challenge.”
The Wrestling Agency has been operating for more than 20 years and counts HBO, Netflix and Comedy Central among its customers, having arranged special appearances from talent including The Rock, Diamond Dallas Page and Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart.
“The sheer star power of many professional wrestlers makes them truly magnetic personalities, even long after they’ve retired from the ring,” added the spokesperson. “Just looking at people like Dwayne Johnson (formerly The Rock), Hulk Hogan and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, it’s obvious how transferable their skills are across the entertainment business.
“I think since the 1990s there has been a new respect for the talent and work ethic of these guys, possibly helped by Mickey Rourke nearly winning an Oscar in 2008 when he was in The Wrestler. They really do have a lot to offer beyond actual wrestling and at the Wrestling Agency, we have seen how their popularity and success in entertainment continues to grow.”
Company Name: The Wrestling Agency
Contact Person: Media Relations
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