This book examines how the current era of "convergence" has affected, and is reflected in, the world of professional wrestling, which combines several different genres, including drama, action, comedy, horror, science fiction, and even romance. Professional wrestling’s business practices exist at the intersection of bottom-up fan-centric strategies and strict top-down corporate control. Meanwhile, the wrestlers themselves combine aspects of carnival hucksters, actors/actresses, comedians, superheroes, martial artists, or stuntmen, and the narratives consist of everything from social critique to geopolitical allegories, and from soap opera melodramas to stereotyped exploitation. Bringing together the latest scholarship in the field, Convergent Wrestling analyzes various texts, business practices, and fan activities to explore the commonalities that define professional wrestling and consider how it exists in today’s new media ecology. In addition, the book considers the professional wrestling industry from several different angles, from massive multinational conglomerate World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to local indie federations. As such, it will appeal to scholars with interests in popular culture, media and cultural studies, and fan practices.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Defining Convergent Wrestling (CarrieLynn D. Reinhard and Christopher J. Olson)
2. Wrestlers, Fans, and Power Dynamics at Live Events (Annette Hill)
3. Kayfabe as Convergence: Content Interactivity and Prosumption in the Squared Circle (CarrieLynn D. Reinhard)
4. Wrestling with Characters: Viewer Engagement in Contemporary Television Wrestling (Oliver Kroener)
5. Sports Entertainment: Toward a High Concept of Professional Wrestling (John Quinn)
6. WWE’s Corporate Documentary: Convergence, Collective Memory, and the Case Against Warrior (Christopher A. Medjesky)
7. Who Is the "Baddest Bitch in the Building?": Genre Convergence and the Inversion of Gender Roles in Lucha Underground (Christopher J. Olson and Rogelia Lily Ibarra)
8. Allusion and the Reality of Power: Professional Wrestling and Technology’s Role in the Re-creation of the Referee (Shirley Oakley)
9."Ultimate! Atomic! Buster!" Street Fighter, Professional Wrestling, and Visual Semiotics (Justin Wigard and Ted Troxell)
10. Pile-Driving the Fourth Wall: Audience as Participant in CHIKARA Professional Wrestling (Matthew Wysocki and Joshua Call)
11. The Pro-Wrestling audience as Imagined Community: Reflecting on the WWE Universe as a "Fan-Generated Narrative" Body (Joyce Goggin and Argyrios Emmanouloudis)
12. "What’s Best for Business": The WWE Cruiserweight Classic and Managing Renegade Audiences Through Affective Economics (Robert Watts)
13. Wrestling Fandom and Digital Convergence: The Kitsch Class Consciousness of Sirius XM’s Busted Open Radio (Garret L. Castleberry)
14. "I’ve Been in the Danger Zone!": Botchamania as a Site of Cultural Convergence for the Modern Internet-Savvy Wrestling Fan (Mario A. Dozal and Gabriela I. Morales)
15. Conclusion: Future Endeavors (CarrieLynn D. Reinhard and Christopher J. Olson)
CarrieLynn D. Reinhard is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at Dominican University, USA. She is the author of Fractured Fandoms: Contentious Communication in Fan Communities, the co-author of Possessed Women, Haunted States: Cultural Tensions in Exorcism Cinema, and the co-editor of Making Sense of Cinema: Empirical Studies into Film Spectators and Spectatorship and Heroes, Heroines, and Everything in Between: Challenging Gender and Sexuality Stereotypes in Children's Entertainment Media.
Christopher John Olson is a Ph.D. student in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, USA, where he studies media, cinema, and digital studies. He is the author of 100 Greatest Cult Movies, co-author of Possessed Women, Haunted States: Cultural Tensions in Exorcism Cinema, and the co-editor of Making Sense of Cinema: Empirical Studies into Film Spectators and Spectatorship and Heroes, Heroines, and Everything in Between: Challenging Gender and Sexuality Stereotypes in Children's Entertainment Media.