• rileysoloner


Pro wrestlers who work for WWE are trained to use very specific WWE language. They're not wrestlers, they're Superstars. Championship titles can never be called "belts." Nobody gets a "title shot," they get "opportunities." There are no "fanbase," it's the "WWE Universe."

When people on the show start talking about "The WWE Universe" I start thinking about the characters' experience. Not the actual rational human being behind the performance. The larger than life, two dimensional warrior. They battle for championship titles for the approval of "The WWE Universe." They bask in the waves of energy the universe sends them. They look to the heavens in the heat of battle for guidance on how to best slam their foes to the mat. With no acknowledgment of any individual fan (especially in the empty arena Pandemic Era), it's easy for me to imagine everything they do happening on some supernatural metaphysical level.

Do you remember the Mortal Kombat movie? A group of fighters would split up, run around, and two enemies would just find each other and start fighting in say, the woods. Or a completely empty temple. Or Hell.

That's what I imagine the characters in a wrestling program are seeing. it's not a ring, there's no arena full of fans. They hear their entrance music playing in their minds. The lights flashing, the smoke billowing, and they enter a zone where it's just them and their opponent, battling to appease their god: the WWE universe. All of the posing, the lifting the title to the sky, the speeches to hype up their match. It's all in service of an invisible force that they can hear and feel if they're specially attuned to connect to the nature of the universe.

Wrestlers, with their physiques and abilities and iconography and stories. Us, the audience with our ritual of tuning in, reacting, remembering, rooting, buying merch, connecting. I feel like the common analogy is that the wrestlers are the gods and we're the followers. But with everything being done in the service of "the universe," the sacrifice of their bodies, their years of training, the globe trotting pilgrimage, the never ending pursuit of approval and attention. I'm sure the case has been made before that the business is like a religion. Or a cult.

The performer/fan relationship. It's another form of exchange. The performers and the audience are each other's gods.

And so the "aha" moment that got me from there to here: What if that's how God works with everyone?

I think this may be a Hindu thing. Something about how everyone is confused because they've been tricked into believing they're not God. Who said it?

Well anyway. AEW Dynamite has been very good lately. I watch it every week.

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