Identity in Professional Wrestling

Essays on Nationality, Race and Gender

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About the Book

Part sport, part performance art, professional wrestling’s appeal crosses national, racial and gender boundaries—in large part by playing to national, racial and gender stereotypes that resonate with audiences. Scholars who study competitive sports tend to dismiss wrestling, with its scripted outcomes, as “fake,” yet fail to recognize a key similarity: both present athletic displays for maximized profit through live events, television viewership and merchandise sales.
This collection of new essays contributes to the literature on pro wrestling with a broad exploration of identity in the sport. Topics include cultural appropriation in the ring, gender non-comformity, national stereotypes, and wrestling as transmission of cultural values.

About the Author(s)

Aaron D. Horton is an associate professor of history at Alabama State University in Montgomery.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Aaron D. Horton
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 317
Bibliographic Info: 9 photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6728-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3141-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Part I. Race
The Iron Sheik and Public Representation of Iranian National
Identity in Professional Wrestling (Zara Mirmalek) 11
“They ain’t like us”: Race, Class and Gender in Smoky
Mountain Wrestling (Edward Salo) 24
Latin Lords of the Ring: Politics, Nativism and Mexican/
Chicano Identity Through Professional Wrestling (Justin D. García) 37
“Degenerative sports and dirty tactics”: Race and Professional Wrestling in Cape Town, South Africa, c. 1880–1988 (Hendrik Snyders) 56
Nazis, Japs and Pearl Harbor Attacks: German and Japanese
Stereotypes in American Professional Wrestling (Aaron D. Horton) 76
Deepest, Darkest Africa, (Illinois): Cultural Appropriation in Professional Wrestling (Kevin Hogg) 92
Part II. Gender
Wrestling with Masculinity: Exóticos in Lucha Libre (Ximena Rojo de la Vega Guinea) 109
Transformed Bodies and Gender Norms: Gender Identity of Japanese Women Pro Wrestlers (Keiko Aiba) 120
“A secret fascination”: Professional Wrestling, Gender ­Non-Conformity and Masculinity (Elizabeth Catte and Josh Howard) 137
Sasha Banks, the Boss of NXT: Media, Gender and
the Evolution of Women’s Wrestling in WWE (Christiana Molldrem Harkulich) 148
III. Culture and Modernity
The Beginnings of Wrestling in Brazil: Theatricality, Marketing
and a Colorful Character (Riqueldi Straub Lise, André Mendes Capraro, Natasha Santos and Aaron D. Horton) 162
The Transmission of Cultural Values Through Professional
Wrestling: A ­Cross-Cultural Comparison (Tyson L. Platt) 179
The “Sportification” of Wrestling in France: Strength,
Performance and Regulation (1852–1913) (Frédéric Loyer and ­Jean-François Loudcher) 199
IV. Wrestling and Media
“I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket”: Music in the Memphis
and ­Mid-South/UWF Professional Wrestling Territories
and the Transformation of Southern Political Culture,
1958–1987 (Christopher L. Stacey) 221
Pile Driving the Past: WWE ’13 and Mediating the History
of WWE Through Video Games (Andrew Baerg )234
Lowland Gorilla Ballerina Acrobat: Brock Lesnar, Sherdog.com
and the Perception of Professional Wrestlers Competing in
Combat Sports (Evan Karl Nagel) 249
Macho Madness and the Mania (“Oh Yeaaaah, Dig It!”):
Mediatization, Masculinities and Affective Memories of WWF’s Halcyon Days (c. 1984–1993) (Damion Sturm) 270
Origins of the Rock ’n’ Wrestling Connection (Seth Bovey) 289
About the Contributors 301
Index 305