RBTR – The Circus Is In Town

Mitchell Gadd


Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of Reading Between the Ropes. Over the years wrestling has been full of whacky gimmicks and characters that you would not expect to bump in to walking down the street. Vince McMahonâ<80><99>s penchant for giant wrestlers that are super-human and larger than life has meant wrestling has moved further away from the real, and more towards the surreal. Travelling across the globe with his band of merry misfits, McMahon is the ringleader to a bunch of freaks. He brings his show from arena to arena. Itâ<80><99>s the WWE, folks, and when it arrives, the circus is really in town.

Many people often use the word â<80>~markâ<80><99> to describe a wrestling fan, however, few people know where the term originates from. The term actually dates back a couple of centuries, when the carnies came to town. The carnies would bring with them their freak show, hoping punters would bite their hand off to view the weird and whacky exhibitions they would put on. The carnies would scope who were the biggest â<80><9c>suckersâ<80> for such a show, or, perhaps a little more favourably, who would lap it up the most. These people, the paying punter, were referred to as â<80>~marksâ<80><99>; those who were willing to fork out their hard-earned cash to witness what crazy show the carnies were putting on. So, the next time you go to see a wrestling show live, irrespective of who you cheer for and how much insider knowledge you have, youâ<80><99>re still a mark.

In this respect, wrestling is irrevocably linked to carnivals and circus acts, and its followers are no different from those who would descend upon the big top many years previous. Ultimately, they are both forms of entertainment, and they both look to do whatever weird and whacky stunts they can to bring in the punters.

McMahon is ever the ringleader of this bizarre spectacle. Men like The Big Show, The Giant Khali, Andre the Giant, and Giant Gonzalez are freaks of nature. They hardly represent your average person, and Vinnie loves them for it. He wants fans to stare in awe at his behemoths. He tells his right hand man Johnny Ace that he wants more of these sideshow freaks. Wrestlers canâ<80><99>t be your average person. He wants to portray the message that ordinary people donâ<80><99>t do this jobâ<80>¦ it takes an extraordinary person to be a WWE superstar.

And therein lies another clue. These guys arenâ<80><99>t just starsâ<80>¦ these are superstars. These are men worth paying to see. These are men that you wonâ<80><99>t see anywhere else than in this show.

But you donâ<80><99>t have to be a giant to be in this show. Nope. There are other types of freaks to see too. There are men that eat worms, there are hideous freaks with burns and scars from a tortured childhood, there are guys who wear dresses, men who can puke on command, or guys who are half man, half beast. There are even cannibals too. Being different is everything. If you can wrestle with one leg, or fight despite being mentally handicapped, youâ<80><99>re apart of this show. These are freaks of nature, or exceptions to the norm, and theyâ<80><99>re all in McMahonâ<80><99>s merry show.

Let us not forget a popular character of yesteryear, Doink the Clown, who is yet another example of how the WWE continue to brand themselves as a weird and whacky bunch who have conspicuous links to the circus.

Perhaps this is the reason there are gaps in the market for companies like ROH, who still push the sport aspect of wrestling, rather than hiring people based on look, or how they are exceptions to the norm. Maybe McMahon hopes to dazzle the punters so splendidly that they forget the quality of the matches, or everything else that they see, and are merely fixated on these bizarre characters that are ubiquitous in this extraordinary show.

If youâ<80><99>re not blessed by genetic imperfections, then there is still a chance to be apart of the circus. Maybe you can do a 450 splash, or a shooting star press. Maybe you can do a corkscrew moonsault, or spaceman plancha . If you can perform some awe-inspiring stunt, then youâ<80><99>re in. Much like those acrobatic circus artists, wrestlers also risk their lives for the thrill of an audience reaction. If youâ<80><99>re not deemed a freak through some birth defect, then it might be your freakish ability that gets you a spot in McMahonâ<80><99>s band of merry misfits.

Of course, you may be ordinary in every way, but asked to do something extraordinary to become a freak. Perhaps giving birth to a hand, or having sex with a dead person might be your true calling.

Much like the carnies travelled up and down the country, taking their show with them to sell to the punters, McMahon offers his bizarre spectacle to the punters too. He shows you abnormal entities and larger than life characters with bizarre personalities. He presents those who can perform extraordinary feats, and daring stunts. Roll up, roll up! Pay your money and see something youâ<80><99>ll never see anywhere else. Itâ<80><99>s the WWE, folks, and when it arrives, the circus is in town.

Until next time,

Mitchell L. Gadd

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