the sun always shines on wrestling

During my audio post I mentioned I was going to write a little something about The Sun newspaper and the personal dilemma it creates in my wrestling related life.  As I said before,  if you’re British I don’t need to explain The Sun to you. You just know what it’s all about. But as there are a number of people from outside the UK reading this blog, I’d better give you a run-down.

In the grand scheme of British journalistic life, The Sun is considered trash. But it’s the best at being trash. Know what I mean? It’s trash, it knows it’s trash, and it doesn’t care.  It’s a tabloid that peddles deliberately inflammatory headlines, celebrity scandal, tittle-tattle, dubious gossip and female nudity on page three every weekday, just for the sake of publishing a picture of a topless young woman.  I’m going to set that as a marker of a non-newspaper. If  random and pointless nakedness is the third most important story in your paper every day, you can kind of gauge the kind of publication we’re dealing with here. I will admit though, it’s not anywhere near as questionable as The Daily Star. And the Daily Sport should be on the top shelf next to the jizz mags, not alongside real newspapers and under the children’s magazines.

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Today's front cover of The Sun. Paris Hilton & Cristiano Ronaldo getting smoochy, Cheryl Cole apparently getting paid more than double Dannii Minogue on the X-Factor and two more important stories along the side.

I do wonder who buys The Sun. I suppose people who want a little light relief early in the morning and not real news. I’m not judging, if that’s what you want to read sitting on the train to work every day, who the hell am I to tell you to read something I might find more stimulating? It’s not my business.  I read the Guardian. All us liberal kids, who know our popular media, swoon over upcoming technology releases and intellectualise sport read The Guardian. And yes, we do come under scrutiny for trying to pass ourselves off as cooler than we really are.

Today's front page of The Guardian. Politics, Blur, David Lynch, and summer reading suggestions.

Today's front page of The Guardian. Politics, Blur, David Lynch, and summer reading suggestions.

So what’s my problem? I’ve got my paper, the ‘light-reliefs’ and brickies have got theirs. You have your little corner of serenity and I parade around in mine waving a story about the fact that Banksy is exhibiting just an hour away from where I live. Here’s the dilemma. Professional wrestling does not exist in the mainstream press. The pre-determined nature of wrestling excludes it from the sports pages, suggesting that it is a fraudulent sport,  and the tv critics ignore it as a form of televisual entertainment, assuming it should be on the sports pages. All, that is, except for The Sun.

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For all its faults, The Sun gives wrestling serious coverage. It gets big-name interviews, Paul Heyman writes a column for them and they update the news as it happens. I can’t decide if the fact that The Sun’s comprehensive coverage of wrestling means that wrestling is perceived as  trash by association, or if I should be pleased that any mainstream newspaper has adopted it as their own and given it a platform.  Maybe it’s just that The Sun is the only newspaper to ‘get’ wrestling. Maybe they understand that it’s a strange but compelling mix of sport and entertainment that, if watched with the correct frame of mind, is some of the best entertainment on television. Well. When it’s good, that is. When it’s really bad I think even The Wedding Channel might be better. And I hate that bloody channel.

I would dearly love if some of the more serious newspapers could summon up the courage to cover wrestling events. Even if they do understand its appeal, I wonder if they’re too afraid of being ridiculed or vilified by their readers for dropping their standard to meet that of The Sun. But they could still cover big stories intelligently. And by that, I don’t mean just when a wrestler prematurely dies or there’s some scandalous steroid story. The Guardian would actually be a good place to start. They love popular culture. If they just understood it as a form of entertainment I think they might go for it. Wrestling is cleverer than non-fans might think. Honest. If you don’t agree, you’re not watching it right.

So there’s the dilemma. Do I visit the website of a newspaper I dislike and feel uncomfortable associating with to support their extensive wrestling coverage, celebrate their loyalty to the industry and encourage others to visit, or do I behave like an outright snob, boycott it and miss out on a unique opportunity to read about wrestling in a mainstream media setting? Tricky. I didn’t even want to go and buy The Sun today. Even though I knew it was for the sake of this post, I felt embarrassed. So I asked someone else to pick it up for me.

I wonder if this happens in any other countries. Are there any mainstream newspapers in other countries that treat wrestling with respect and don’t snigger behind fans’ backs? The British tabloid press is world-famous, for all the wrong reasons. I’m not aware of such a fervent, daily, tabloid culture in other countries, but maybe I just haven’t studied them enough. Feel free to enlighten me, guys, either in the comments box or via email.

I’ll probably just get over myself, keep reading The Sun wrestling news and hope that other newspapers will one day understand that the wrestling business deserves coverage, intelligent commentary and serious debate.  Whether it is covered as sport or as  light entertainment, I don’t really mind, as long its visibility creeps up. Maybe I can help them get the joke. Email me, Guardian. I’ll spell it out for you.

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6 thoughts on “the sun always shines on wrestling

  1. When I think about The Sun, I always think about that awful ugly front page they did about the Hillsborough Stadium tragedy… so let me tell you, I understand some of your consternation.

    In the states, I am noticing that the Baltimore Sun seems to be giving wrestling its fair due, at least online… and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a paper from a major Pennsylvania city who covered the subject as well (since I can think of at least 3 promotions, plus the entity formerly known as ECW that made that state home).

    I am sure if enough people wrote the desk that deals with Pop Culture and Kitsch etc, someone would eventually pick up the wrestling beat… I am sure that would improve their circulation in Liverpool at least.

  2. If a national newspaper was going to cover it regularly, it would likely be USA Today, as they are notorious for being a little bit lower rent than other nationals like the New York Times, the Washington Post etc.

    I live in a city with a major Canadian promotion that feeds into TNA (Border City Wrestling), and occasionally the local paper does a story about them, but it isn’t regular coverage at all.

    I wonder if the reason professional wrestling doesn’t get mainstream attention from other British papers is because of its roots in England as a carnival festivity rather than as a more mainstream form of entertainment.

    North America does seem to have an entirely different sports/fan culture than the UK/The Continent… we do have passionate fans and hotly contested rivalries, but between supporters of teams, things are generally peaceful… there may be an occasional scuffle and some trash talking, but all things considered, there is almost cordiality between supporters in comparison to their continental brethren.

    I read a book on the development of football as a global game that detailed many, many… many instances where there was true hatred between sets of fans… not just internationally, but even between supporters of crosstown rivals (Celtic/Rangers comes to mind). If the comments weren’t closed on those videos you posted, I am sure there would have been some rather mean spirited and ugly japes made about Liverpool even now (that those fans deserved that, or what would you expect from the kind of supporters who were involved in Heysel)… and that hatred just seems so beyond my comprehension. Jeering the deaths of other fans is just not kosher.

    • You’re probably right about the wrestling coverage. It isn’t taken seriously, because its seen as kind of a joke. Also, I think it probably gets more coverage in the US and Canada because it’s a home-grown product over there. I suppose here it’s an imported TV product, so from the media’s point of view why pay attention to an import when the audience may be too small to warrant it.

      As for the other comments, that violent sports-fan culture is pretty much exclusive to football (soccer). My first sporting love is rugby (both codes) and within our sport fans are extremely friendly to each other. Cricket is even friendlier. Football has come an awfully long way in the past 20 years. It had to move with the times. FIFA just wouldn’t stand for any more violence.

      I wonder if the perception of violence by people overseas is greater than the actual incidence of football related violence. The police have the power to hold the passports of people they suspect of travelling abroad to cause football related violence and most found to be behaving aggressively in UK stadiums are banned for life from entering any football ground. There is still a sub-culture of hooliganism though and I’m not entirely sure how you stop it. I’ll stick with my rugby. And my wrestling. Contact sports FTW 🙂

      • I think we have to envy Mexico and Japan, as I do believe those are two nations that get wrestling and give it respect in terms of coverage.

        And I wasn’t commenting on the incidents of violence (because I know that England never had a monopoly on hooliganism as the Italian ultras and various other groups were also rather nasty customers during the 1970’s and 80’s), but rather the seeming personal furor a lot of fans (the vocal minority) seemed to have regarding their team and being confronted with it even today.

  3. You have me googling The Sun now, yep I have visited its Wrestling section a few times now, and applaud them for having one… I never ever EVER thought I would read anything in The Sun.

    -Shemp-

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