Why wrestling is like romance

I went to an NXT show on Monday night and had an absolute ball. NXT is the developmental division of World Wrestling Entertainment and it has become really popular in the last few years. As I was waiting for the show to start, I realised that wrestling has a lot in common with the romance genre. You don’t see it? Let me explain.

NXT RingBoth get a bad rap. For decades people have been saying that wrestling is fake, that no one gets hurt, that it’s for rednecks and not a real sport. Similarly, romance gets the tags formulaic, mummy porn, read by bored housewives who can’t tell fact from fiction. Both raps are incredibly wrong. The wrestlers work really hard and the bumps they get are often real. They put their bodies on the line every time they wrestle and some of the things I saw on Monday night had to have hurt.

Likewise, anyone who has ever read a romance will know that there’s a whole heap of diversity and depth to many of the stories and is read by men and women in all different careers.

Both rely heavily on good characters. It doesn’t matter how good the wrestling or the romance plot is, if the viewer/reader can’t connect with the character then it’s pretty much pointless. People want characters they can love or hate, that they can cheer or boo. The roar of the crowd when certain wrestlers’ entrance music came on was deafening.  There were definite favourites and it made the matches more exciting when the crowd was behind one of the wrestlers.

In romance, it’s the hero and heroine that the readers follow. If the reader can’t empathise or love the characters, then they’re not going to bother reading the story.

Both are about entertainment. While the wrestling is physical, it’s also about entertaining the crowd. You could argue that all sport is entertainment, but not like the wrestling. With wrestling, the crowd is part of the story, part of the entertainment and the wrestlers play to them, depending on the response. It made me feel like I was a participant not just an onlooker, and a good romance makes you feel part of the story as well. The chants that went around the stadium were hilarious and fun, and the wrestlers’ reactions to them were a joy.

So before you dismiss either wrestling or romance out of hand, how about you give them both a chance?