The term sports entertainment was conceived by Vince McMahon in the 80’s as a marketing tool to attract sponsors to the WWF, because pro wrestling at that time, was considered garbage content despite the importance pro wrestling once had from TV stations.
With the passing of time, sports entertainment was not only a term, it became something completely different than pro wrestling. It’s kind of like Rugby and American Football; both share some similarities, but both are very different sports. The same applies to pro wrestling and sports entertainment.
Sports Entertainment: Roman Reigns & The Bloodline
There’s no better example of what sports entertainment is than Roman Reigns and his matches. Roman’s matches have a focus on “storytelling” aspects like: mid-match monologues, close ups for face reactions, wrestlers just staring at each other, shenanigans, and acting. All that pretty much describes Roman Reigns’ matches in the last 3 years. These aspects can be part of a wrestling match, but in sports entertainment they are the main focus and leaves the actual wrestling in a secondary role.
Let’s take Roman’s last tag match; Reigns & Solo Sikoa vs. The Usos. This match was 32-minutes long, but it had all the things previously mentioned until the last 8-7 minutes when wrestling took place. At the end, we saw an angry, theatrical Reigns…
Now let’s take the second match this year between Kenny Omega and Will Ospreay. This is the perfect reference point for what pro wrestling is, and how it differs.
Pro Wrestling: Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay
The story for this match was simple; Ospreay wanted revenge against Omega after losing to him at Wrestle Kingdom, and Forbidden Door was the perfect scenario considering it took place in Canada, Omega’s home country. During the match, Ospreay did many things to mock Canadians and even applied the Sharpshooter, Bret Hart’s submission hold, to Omega and the crowd gave Ospreay some of the biggest boos he heard in his career.
Omega gave Ospreay something of his own medicine and choked him with a Canadian flag. Needless to say, the crowd went nuts for it. The match between Ospreay and Omega had all those storytelling points previously mentioned, but also had actual pro wrestling for the entire match, with an insane Tiger Driver 91 that was one of the highlights of the match.
Sport entertainment and pro wrestling are no longer synonyms like they once were, now they are two completely different things. Sports entertainment puts more focus on a lot of aspects surrounding the matches and they are no longer the payoff of the stories they are telling. In pro wrestling, matches have always been the most important aspect of the sport and will continue to be.
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