1st Edition

Performance and Professional Wrestling

Edited By Broderick Chow, Eero Laine, Claire Warden Copyright 2017
    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    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




    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.