Wrestling 'soap opera' faces chop
Thursday July 26 2001
WWF wrestling, a spectacle closer to pantomime than sport in
which 18-stone men in trunks pretend to beat hell out of each
other and the occasional scantily-clad female, is to be dropped
by Channel 4 amid concern about the "increasingly extreme
nature" of the programme.
Channel 4 confirmed yesterday that it is to end its contract
with the World Wrestling Federation when it expires in December.
The decision to drop the American show, which has a global
following among children and teenagers, was made because of the
increasingly violent fighting scenes and misgivings over its
portrayal of women. According to a Channel 4 spokesperson the
show had become "increasingly difficult to edit".
WWF features an array of manufactured characters "fighting" for
supremacy in and out of the ring. Trading on plots that would be
familiar to anyone who saw British wrestling in the 1970s, the
"competitors" play act, deploying ever more extreme stunts.
WWF has expanded the genre outside the ring, weaving elements of
soap opera in with the body slams and half Nelsons. These plots
have brought concern about the role of women in the shows.
Characters with names like Terri, Tori, Trish Stratus and Chyna,
collectively known as "divas", are "beaten" by the men or
themselves pretend to fight. Props such as chairs and
sledgehammers have been used in the show, to the disquiet of
some viewers. WWF has also produced a video entitled Divas in
Hedonism, featuring the women in bikinis on a Jamaican beach.
A spokeswoman for the Independent Television Commission said
they had received very few complaints, and those that were
upheld concerned violence outside the ring.
The programme used to be shown at 4pm on Sundays un til it was
moved to a late night slot in May. Concerns have been raised
about the effect of the violence on children, but according to
research commissioned by the ITC and the Broadcasting Standards
Commission, the regular audience understood that the fight
scenes are a fabrication and they looked on it as similar to
circus or soap opera.
The study found that viewers enjoyed following the fortunes of
favourite wrestlers and the developments in the underlying plot
in much the same way fans of soap opera do.
The ITC has upheld three complaints against the show, including
one regarding an episode in which a wrestler smashed up a
rival's car with a sledgehammer and threatened him with it.
Last October, a 42-stone WWF wrestler touring Britain in a
roadshow died at a hotel in Liverpool. Agatupu Rodney Anoei,
whose stage name was Yokozuna, died of natural causes.
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited
Im not even gonna post my comments. They're pretty predictable.
Heat is a great show, I should watch it more often.
I like to watch all the low-card wrestlers who I don't see on Raw and Smackdown, and that sometimes will include Scotty!
Did you see the bit where Chavo Guerrero Junior and Scotty both did crossbodies, and they slammed into eachother?! It looked brilliant.