Performance and Professional Wrestling  book cover
1st Edition

Performance and Professional Wrestling

ISBN 9781138937239
Published August 29, 2016 by Routledge
236 Pages

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Book Description

Performance and Professional Wrestling is the first edited volume to consider professional wrestling explicitly from the vantage point of theatre and performance studies. Moving beyond simply noting its performative qualities or reading it via other performance genres, this collection of essays offers a complete critical reassessment of the popular sport.

Topics such as the suspension of disbelief, simulation, silence and speech, physical culture, and the performance of pain within the squared circle are explored in relation to professional wrestling, with work by both scholars and practitioners grouped into seven short sections:  

  • Audience
  • Circulation
  • Lucha
  • Gender
  • Queerness
  • Bodies
  • Race

A significant re-reading of wrestling as a performing art, Performance and Professional Wrestling makes essential reading for scholars and students intrigued by this uniquely theatrical sport.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Hamlet Doesn’t Blade: Professional Wrestling, Theatre, and Performance

Broderick Chow, Eero Laine, Claire Warden


Ch1 The dissipation of "heat": changing role(s) of audience in professional wrestling in the U.S.

Jon Ezell

Ch2 Pops and promos: speech and silence in professional wrestling

Claire Warden

Ch3 Playful engagements: Wrestling with the attendant masses

Stephen Di Benedetto


Ch4 Stadium Sized Theatre: WWE and the World of Professional Wrestling

Eero Laine

Ch5 Wrestling’s Not Real, It’s Hyperreal: Professional Wrestling Video Games

Nick Ware


Ch6 Don't Leave Us in the Hands of Criminals: The Contested Cultural Politics of Lucha Libre

Heather Levi

Ch7 Wrestling With Burlesque, Burlesquing Lucha Libre

Nina Hoechtl


Ch8 The Impact of Women’s Pro Wrestling Performances on the Transformation of Gender

Keiko AIBA (Translated by Minata HARA)

Ch9 "Most women train with mostly men, so why not wrestle them?" The performance and experience of intergender professional wrestling in Britain

Carrie Dunn


Ch10 Grappling and Ga(y)zing: Gender, Sexuality and Performance in the WWE debuts of Goldust and Marlena

Janine Bradbury

Ch11 ‘King of the ring, and queen of it too’: the exotic masculinity of Adrian Street

Stephen Greer

Ch12 "Gold-dust": Ricki Starr’s Ironic Performances of the Queer Commodity in Popular Entertainment

Laura Katz Rizzo


Ch13 Muscle Memory: Re-enacting the fin-de-siècle Strongman in Pro Wrestling

Broderick D.V. Chow

Ch14 The Hard Sell; The Performance of Pain in Professional Wrestling

Jamie Lewis Hadley


Ch15 "Tell Them It’s What Their Grandfathers Got": Racial Violence in Southern Professional Wrestling

Charles Hughes

Ch16 Grappling with the "New Racism:" Race, Ethnicity, and Post-Colonialism in British Wrestling during the 1970s and 1980s

Nicholas Porter

Ch17 Some Moments of Flag Desecration in Professional Wrestling

Morgan Daniels

Epilogue: The Game of Life

Sharon Mazer



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Broderick Chow is a Lecturer in Theatre at Brunel University London, and an active performance practitioner.

Eero Laine is Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

Claire Warden is a Senior Lecturer in Drama at De Montfort University.