Professional Wrestling as an Olympic Sport?

Mike Hewitt

Fans of mixed martial arts and professional wrestling the world over are currently in the second stage of grief: anger.

The target of their rage is the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for cutting wrestling from the 2020 Summer Games. While there is still a chance mankind's oldest sport will earn a reprieve, nothing is guaranteed.

Personally, I don't care. Amateur wrestling has never appealed to me and while several of my favorite fighters and wrasslers have a background on the mat, I never bothered to dive into the sport.

But I digress. This recent brouhaha has quite a few people in both fields talking and one quote from an interview Chris Jericho gave The Miami Herald caught my eye:

"Think about it, pro wrestling as an Olympic sport would be pretty cool. Look at figure skating or gymnastics, what is it? It's a choreographed performance that is judged. It's whoever puts on the best performance. Why can't you do that with different countries like a Canadian team, an American team and a German team go in there.

"Then, whoever puts on the best match according to the judges wins. You take two of the best American workers in a match against each other and get scored by the judges. It's the exact same thing as figureskating, so why not?"

It baffles me I never thought of this myself. In the years I have spent defending professional wrestling, I've used arguments against it being "fake", rather than using the term "choreographed" to describe it. I've defended it as a form of physical art, a dramatic expression, much like interpretive dance. A professional wrestling match, if put together correctly, can be an emotionally exhilarating experience beyond explanation.


So why not take this art form to the Olympic Games?

For one: The negative stigma attached to it. Professional wrestling is still seen as low-brow entertainment, and with its two biggest stars going on about "twinkie tits" and "poop charts," there's no surprise why.

Promoters very rarely dare to challenge their viewer, rather hiding behind what is tried and true, what is safe. This often leads to homophobic, sexist, and racist storylines which appeal to the basest of the lowest common denominator's emotional palette. Frankly, I'd be embarrassed if someone watched an amazing Daniel Bryan/CM Punk match during the Summer Games then tuned into Raw soon after, only to see that garbage.

Two: There is still something to be said of kayfabe. In a post-world wide web existence, only children, or the shamefully ignorant, operate under the assumption what they see every Monday night on USA is real.

However, as an Olympic sport the façade of kayfabe would be all but obliterated. Sure, there are professional wrestling pundits, Dave Meltzer most famous of these, who judge and rate matches, but they are working within the system. They are fans, just like us, and are "in" on it. I don't think the same would be said of the three judges selected by the IOC.

There are other quibbles: Like how a sport known as professional wrestling could be included in the amateur-centric sporting event, or the concern that a lack of storylines would hinder the entire experience. But those could easily be worked out.

Despite all that, the idea of professional wrestling as an Olympic sport is an intriguing one. A wrestler like Ring of Honor's Bobby Fish could quickly make a name for himself and use the newfound name recognition to score a deal with WWE. A wrestler like CM Punk could earn a gold medal and truly earn his "Best in the World" moniker.

Most importantly, professional wrestling could finally dig itself out of the social grotto it's been in for years and prove itself to be a valid form of art.


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