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When I tell people that one of my hobbies is watching professional wrestling most people's initial response is that it is pre-rehearsed and thus pointless. However, most things that people enjoy are pre-rehearsed as well, such as TV shows, movies and the theatre, and yet people consider those to be a form of culture while they consider pro wrestling to be "primitive".

In my view, pro wrestling, when done correctly, is the finest form of theatre and I shall explain why. In wrestling, when a wrestler talks, which is called "cutting a promo", he (or she) does so in front of a live crowd, which may be hostile as they might chant derogatory remarks at him (or her) while he (or she) is trying to speak his (or her) mind. The wrestler has to improvise and sometimes incorporate the crowd's reactions into his (or her) promo, which might be very difficult to do depending upon what the crowd is chanting. The wrestler has to ensure that he (or she) is not offended by the chants, as being offended might prevent him (or her) from cutting a good promo.

I like wrestlers who portray characters I can believe in, such as Shane Douglas, whose legendary promo helped transform Eastern Championship wrestling into Extreme Championship Wrestling, or James Storm, who portrays a cool confident cowboy who enjoys drinking beer, or CM Punk, who very convincingly put his real life boss Vince Mcmahon in his place. I enjoy watching realistic characters defy authority in a convincing manner. In addition to this, I enjoy watching wrestling matches which tell very good stories and in which each move and mannerism is impeccably executed. I advise any non wrestling fans to watch the matches mentioned below and I will add more good matches as I re-watch my collection of matches.

My favorite wrestling match is the late Chris Benoit vs Kurt Angle from Unforgiven 2002. The match was a difficult one to construct as it was between two bad guys (in wrestling they are called "heels"). The crowd doesn't know who to cheer for since both of them are heels, and yet the crowd cheers wildly for the flawless execution of the wrestling holds. The finish is also perfect: Kurt Angle tries to cheat and is caught by the referee, then Chris Benoit cheats and wins, then Kurt Angle pulls a tantrum, and then Chris Benoit grimaces, which is his way of saying "you tried to screw me but I managed to screw you".

Another match I enjoyed greatly was Chris Benoit vs Triple H from No Mercy 2000. The story leading up to the match was excellent - Chris Benoit headbutted (hit with his head) Triple H's (then on-screen but now his real) wife Stephanie McMahon and a week later he met her in a hallway and asked her how her head was feeling. She slapped him, and he smiled, indicating that, unlike her, he enjoys pain inflicted upon him. Triple H, who was the top heel for most of 2000, was positioned as the good guy (or "face" in wrestling jargon) in this match. Triple H outwrestled Chris Benoit at the beginning of the match, despite Benoit being a better technical wrestler than him, which was a very interesting start to this contest. The match was even, and in the end Stephanie interfered and helped Triple H win. Usually outside interference detracts from the quality of a match, but in this case it made perfect sense as it fit the story behind this match. Despite losing, Chris Benoit was portrayed as Triple H's equal, so both men were winners on that day.

Another very good match worth checking out is Brian Pillman vs Lex Luger from Halloween Havoc 1989. Many people think Luger didn't deserve a main event slot based on viewing his lackadaisical performances in the 90s and in particular his poor main event WWF run in 1993. He was however very good in 1989. He played a heel so well (as can be seen in the Pillman match where he receives a thunderous ovation) that WCW had no choice but to turn him face in early 1990.

Some TNA matches that are worth tracking down are AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe (Turning Point 2005), Chris Sabin vs Senshi (Bound For Glory 2006), Chris Sabin vs Samoa Joe (No Surrender 2005), Chris Sabin vs Jerry Lynn (Against All Odds 2007), America's Most Wanted vs Triple X (Turning Point 2004), Samoa Joe vs Christian Cage (Destination X 2007), Christian Cage vs Kaz (Genesis 2007) and both Christian Cage vs AJ Styles and Kurt Angle vs Samoa Joe from Genesis 2006. The (relatively) recent AJ Styles/Christoper Daniels encounter from Final Resolution 2012 is also worth checking out - I especially like its ending.

If watching a long wrestling match bores you, you might enjoy these two very good short matches: Owen Hart vs 1-2-3 Kid (King of the Ring 1994) and Barry Windham vs Brian Pillman (Superbrawl I - from 1991).

Knowing what is roughly going on in the wrestling world is useful knowledge as it might be referenced in other media in the form of insider jokes, which was the case in the movie "Guardians of the Galaxy" (I shall not reveal the insider joke but I will say that when I saw the film with friends at a local cinema no one laughed at the insider joke).

My thoughts on the infamous 1997 Survivor Series double-cross can be found here.