Reality Bites: The Blurred Line Between What’s Real and Fake in Professional Wrestling

The difference between what’s real and “fake” in professional wrestling is really blurry lately.  Like most big-name celebrities, famous Hollywood strong men serve as larger than life heroes for the common folk, like Steve Reeves of early television’s Superman and Sly Stallone’s Rocky.  Professional wrestlers have also become  icons for millions of fans worldwide.  Great wrestling rivalries have provided millions with entertainment and an escape from their often uneventful lives.  And if you’ve seen the movie “The Wrestler” with Mickey Rourke, you probably learned there’s more to this game than scripted vendettas, pulled punches and staged violence.  Many pro wrestlers end up permanently injured and emotionally broken from years of abuse, most never reaching the level of fame and wealth of Hulk Hogan, aka, Terry Bollea.  But with the popularity of internet blogging and sites like facebook, an even more vicious battle is occurring-outside the ring-between Hogan and a former opponent, The Ultimate Warrior.

Though he who was born Jim Hellwig, The Ultimate Warrior changed his legal name to Warrior in the early nineties. In the early 80’s the wrestling world was introduced to this wild, long-haired Adonis who was slated to be the next big champion for the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) as Hogan approached retirement.   In a very short time, Warrior accepted the heavy weight belt from a gracious Hogan at Wrestlemania 6 in Canada’s Skydome, as the WWF chose their next “champion.”  It is part of wrestling lore that Warrior soon either lost interest or wasn’t capable of filling Hogan’s boots, as the sport grew into a multimedia, money-making business and pop cultural force.  Eventually Hogan came back to reclaim the title, as (some say) he was more suited for the job.

Today, through the presence of his internet website, Warrior has been trashing, not only the Hulk Hogan persona that Terry made famous, but Terry the man himself.   After a series of videos posted on his official website, where Warrior trashes Terry and reveals bits of his personal life, Hogan is now taking the fight to a court of law.  The Ultimate Warrior of the 80’s and 90’s became well-known for his incredible physique and energy in the ring.  But when he spoke, through a loud raspy voice, his words were hard to follow and grew more and more incoherent throughout his short career.  As portrayed on his website these days, Warrior now comes across as a very intelligent, well-spoken guy, pushing his followers toward fulfilling their greatest potential.  Oddly enough, the animosity he shows in his series of recent Hogan-bashing videos totally contradicts a man of intellect and positive drive.  It almost seems he’s tired of living in the shadows of his once celebrated career and hoping to lure Hogan back for one final match.  Thankfully Hogan is not willing to let Warrior take him down personally, as he is now sewing him for slandering his name.

Bringing back these two big name wrestlers to supposedly settle a thirty year-old rivalry would mean huge money, and that is what pro-sports is mostly all about.  But normally, the wrestlers’ alter-egos, fictional characters, begin a verbal bout in public, and soon the match is scheduled as a comeback or return to the ring.  Rarely is the person’s legal name a part of the dispute.  Since Warrior embraced the name of his alter-ego so much that he now goes by it legally, is it possible he is losing touch with reality altogether?  Is he blurring together the fictional wrestling hero and the real man, and now seeing them as the same person?  Could this be a sign that fiction and reality have become so convoluted in pop culture a person’s true identity is no longer sacred?  With the massive popularity of reality television,  revealing celebrity bios and now internet blogging celebrities are continually exposed as real people beneath the fame and glory.  Stay tuned to see where this modern rivalry will lead…

 – Thanks to Todd Spayer; Darren Aronofsky and his film “The Wrestler,” and the documentaries: “Beyond the Mat” and “The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior” for their facts and history of the sport. 

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2 thoughts on “Reality Bites: The Blurred Line Between What’s Real and Fake in Professional Wrestling

  1. joe you should talk to my dad about this. also ask him to show you his collection of memorabilia! you will be amazed

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