By Marissa Payne

As I stood in line on Monday night at a kiosk in the Verizon Center waiting to get my hands (or back, rather) on a fluorescent pink T-shirt that read in gigantic black-light-ready block lettering “IT’S NOT SHOWING OFF IF YOU BACK IT UP,” I became keenly aware of who I was, er, who I am. Obviously, I'm still getting used to the idea. I'm a rabid World Wrestling Entertainment fan.

There. I said it.

What started eight months ago as a one-time ironic viewing of a television broadcast called Monday Night Raw (a title that sounds perfectly fit to be the pinnacle of entertainment for stereotypical redneck Middle American males), had somehow become an obsession for me, a 32-year-old, East Coast-educated female urbanite. But how? Why was I in this seemingly endless blob of a line so eagerly anticipating my purchase of an arguably hideous T-shirt to support a wrestler/villain named Dolph Ziggler? That sounds crazy! Even crazier, why had I spent hundreds of dollars to fly all the way to Miami just 8 days earlier to catch WrestleMania, the Superbowl of this scripted sport?

Finally, after nearly half an hour of shuffling forward about a foot per minute, it hit me like a Randy Savage elbow. What attracts me to this uniquely American form of entertainment is also why it should attract you. Straight up: the WWE is high-brow theater disguised as low-brow hijinks. It’s Macbeth in sparkly Spandex trunks. In Shakespeare’s play, a crown is sought. Drama ensues. Fights follow. In the world of WWE creator Vince MacMahon, a belt is sought. Drama ensues. Fights follow. There are good guys and bad guys in both—heroes, anti-heroes and villains. There’s occasional comic relief. Truly, except for the Elizabethan period garb (although, actually, there have probably been exceptions to that rule too), the WWE offers everything to satisfy the modern intellectual.

And more. Awesome pyrotechnics.

But still more. See, unlike Macbeth, the success of any WWE production depends on the audience’s willingness to participate. There are the kids and the dumbs the more gullible adults (known as “marks” in the biz) who actually believe it’s real. There are the “smarts,” who know it’s choreographed and are more interested in the behind-the-scenes operations. And then there are the “smarks,” a relatively new term that accounts for people like me, who are aware of both the onstage and backstage worlds of professional choreographed wrestling and use this comprehensive knowledge to enjoy the WWE in a way that traditional theater doesn’t allow. For example, in many cases, we can cheer for the heel (hence, my Ziggler shirt) and boo the good guy. We make our judgments on a wrestler not based just on where his or her (there is a female division, as well) character falls on the good/bad scale, but on how well he or she performs his or her role. Hence, when a talented heel like Ziggler takes a great fall (labeled a “bump” in the industry), we cheer not because the proverbial hero knocked him down, but because he made it look amazing, even if said hero flubbed his half of the move. This happens often. Likewise, we cheer for those who are articulate, hero or heel, while delivering their soliloquies. Or hell, we don’t even have to cheer for any particular person—we can cheer or jeer entire storylines if we want! There is a lot more going on in pro-wrestling than you might think.

Which might be why I wasn’t surprised to see a few hipsters in their skinny jeans at WrestleMania earlier this month or, on Monday, several people donning their wrestling T-shirts over their white-collar office outfits during the live taping of Raw at the Verizon Center. Pro-wrestling isn’t just for flyover country anymore. It’s for everybody, including the smarty-pants people of DC. Including you.

But intellectualism aside, no matter what your IQ, the WWE sure is fun to look at. Behold, photos!



ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?! And while you can catch all the draction (that's drama + action) on television most every Monday and Friday night, you can also plan to see it all live the next time the WWE rolls back into the Verizon Center on December 29. That's more than enough time to become obsessed (I'm lookin' at you, people talking at minute 19 on 365 Things DC's "Topical Storm" streamcast). But act soon because tickets are already on sale and if my wish in this article comes true, it'll surely sell out.