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Genre conventions::Professional wrestling

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Genre conventions {{#invoke:main|main}} When talking about professional wrestling, there are two levels: the "in-show" happenings that are presented through the shows, and happenings which are outside the scope of performance (in other words, are real life) but have implications on the performance, such as performer contracts, legitimate injuries, etc. Because actual events are often co-opted by writers for incorporation into storylines for the performers, the lines are often blurred and become confused.

Special care must be taken when talking about people who perform under their own name. The actions of the character should be considered fictional events, wholly separate from the life of the performer. This is similar to other entertainers who perform with a persona that shares their own name (such as Stephen Colbert and his fictional persona).

Some wrestlers will incorporate elements of their real-life personalities into their characters, even if they and their in-ring persona have different names.

Kayfabe

Historians are unsure at what point wrestling changed from competitive catch wrestling into worked entertainment. Those who participated felt that maintenance of a constant and complete illusion for all who were not involved was necessary to keep audience interest. For decades, wrestlers lived their public lives as though they were their characters.

The practice of keeping the illusion, and the various methods used to do so, came to be known as "kayfabe" within wrestling circles, or "working the marks". An entire lexicon of slang jargon and euphemism developed to allow performers to communicate without outsiders' knowledge of what was being said.

Occasionally a performer will deviate from the intended sequence of events. This is known as a shoot. Sometimes shoot-like elements are included in wrestling stories to blur the line between performance and reality. These are known as "worked shoots". However, the vast majority of events in professional wrestling are preplanned and improvised within accepted boundaries.

Gradually, the predetermined nature of professional wrestling became an open secret, as prominent figures in the wrestling business (including World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon) began to publicly admit that wrestling was entertainment, not competition. This public reveal has garnered mixed reactions from the wrestling community, as some feel that exposure ruins the experience to the spectators as does exposure in illusionism. Despite the public admission of the theatrical nature of professional wrestling, many U.S. states still regulate professional wrestling as they do other professional competitive sports. For example, New York State still regulates "professional wrestling" through the New York State Athletic Commission (SAC). <ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

Aspects of performing art

Professional wrestling shows can be considered a form of theatre in the round, with the ring, ringside area, and entryway comprising a thrust stage. However, there is a much more limited concept of a fourth wall than in most theatric performances. The audience is recognized and acknowledged by the performers as spectators to the sporting event being portrayed, and are encouraged to interact as such. This leads to a high level of audience participation; in fact, their reactions can dictate how the performance unfolds.<ref name="Barthes" /> Often, individual matches will be part of a longer storyline conflict between "babyfaces" (often shortened to just "faces") and "heels". "Faces" (the "good guys") are those whose actions are intended to encourage the audience to cheer, while "heels" (the "bad guys") act to draw the spectators' ire.


Professional wrestling sections
Intro  History  Scope and influence  Genre conventions  Rules  Dramatic elements  Wrestlers  Styles and characteristics in different countries  Culture  See also  Footnotes  References  External links  

Genre conventions
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