Wrestling has remained a popular form of global entertainment ever since its introduction in the first summer Olympic Games of the modern era in Paris in 1896. The sport has been widely contested throughout the world since then and its participants are deemed to exhibit skills in both strength and tactical play.
The First Golden Age of Professional Wrestling
As a result of the unprecedented success of wrestling during the First Golden Age of Professional Wrestling in the 1940s and the 1950s, a decade later American television executives decided to exploit the popularity of wrestling by using the recent widespread adaptation of the television set as a standard household appliance.
Oil Me Down! Wrestling Goes Mainstream!
By the 1980s the Americans had done what they do best – glamorise wrestling and infuse it with fireworks, costumes, drama, lengthy storylines and character biographies that helped to individualise each wrestler. In short, the spectator was no longer simply watching two men in a Lycra onesie lock arms and jostle from side to side for a couple of minutes – wrestling was now a souped-up form of high entertainment and excitement.
Separating the Good from the Bad
Perhaps one of the most important facets of 1980s wrestling was the fact that a clear segregation existed between who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. Moreover, the battle between good and evil was televised on both a national and an international scale and drew in millions of viewers who were all too eager to show their support for their favoured competitor.
The success of high-octane wrestling has remained popular ever since and several emergent markets have more recently, quite literally, got in on the action – and the costumes, the drama and the flair as well.
Wrestling in Ireland
Perhaps one of the most unlikely national successes with wrestling has come in Ireland. The growth of Irish wrestling has increased markedly over the past twenty years to the extent that the popularity of Irish wrestling is now widely considered to be strong enough to stand independent of any influence from other nation’s styles.
Indeed, in 2002 the Irish Whip Wrestling was established – an independent, Irish-owned wrestling company that is televised throughout the whole of Ireland. In addition to Irish wrestling’s promotion of homebred talent, several classic American wrestlers have also competed in the IWW including former WWF favourites Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and Tatanka.
Irish Wrestling: A Unique Style
Whilst no doubt influenced by the successes of wrestling in 1980s America, the growth of Irish wrestling is marked by a certain amount of its own unique national spirit. Irish wrestling tends to verge on the more gritty side of combat and consists of competitors that look genuinely terrifying as opposed to the almost cartoon character style of some of the more lightweight American wrestlers.
Such is the popularity of wrestling in Ireland that numerous other independent promoters have set up touring wrestling companies that aim to bring the excitement and the dirty glamour of wrestling to towns and villages across Ireland.
Wrestling: Fun for the Family!
The growth of Irish wrestling is no doubt somewhat largely related to the emphasis that the Irish people place upon family. Indeed, one of the enduring legacies of wrestling is its ability to entertain people of all ages – from young children right through the pensioners.
Wrestling is a rare form of entertainment in which children can enjoy the sheer spectacle of watching two men hurl each other around a ring like lunatics and adults can raise a smile at one of the few surviving sports and means of entertainment that is still able to convey both drama and humour.
Moreover, the cultural links between Ireland and America have always been strong and Irish wrestling goes to further underline how both of these cultures seemingly feed into one another.
Irish and American wrestling tours tend to put their shows on the road during the warmer months, with tours generally taking place in Ireland between April and September.
Lucas Conner is a freelance writer based in Ireland with a particular interest in cultural history and the growth of Irish wrestling.
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