Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage examines professional wrestling as a century-old, theatrical form that spans from its local places of performance to circulate as a popular, global product.
Professional wrestling has all the trappings of sport, but is, at its core, a theatrical event. This book acknowledges that professional wrestling shares many theatrical elements such as plot, character, scenic design, props, and spectacle. By assessing professional wrestling as a neglected but prototypical case study in the global business of theatre, Laine argues that it is an exemplary form of globalizing, commercial theatre. He asks what theatre scholars might learn from pro wrestling and how pro wrestling might contribute to conversations beyond the ring, by considering the laboring bodies of the wrestlers, and analyzing wrestling’s form and content.
Of interest to scholars and students of theatre and performance, cultural studies, and sports studies, Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage delimits the edges of wrestling’s theatrical frame, critiques established understandings of corporate theatre, and offers key wrestling concepts as models for future study in other fields.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Introduction: Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage 1. Productive Theatre and Professional Wrestling: The Business of Kayfabe 2. Form and Content: Professional Wrestling’s Troubling Theatrics 3. Hardcore Wrestling: Deregulation and Theatrical Danger 4. Trading Likenesses: Wrestling Labor and the Branded Body 5. A Stock Theatre Company: WWE and Theatrical Value Conclusion: Wrestling Futures Index
Eero Laine is Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He is the co-editor of Performance and Professional Wrestling (2017).