The superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are returning to the North Charleston Coliseum for the last time this year on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Professional wrestling as an art form has seen a myriad of evolutions and changes throughout its nearly 100-year-long history, and stands, in its current form, as one of the most spectacular and populous forms of live theater that currently exist in the world. With WWE’s annual SummerSlam megaevent having just concluded in Nashville, last Saturday, and the newsworthy major shakeups to the company’s leadership, WWE is headed in a brand new direction. Audiences in Charleston this Saturday may be in for an even more interesting and exciting show.
It’s a new day
The biggest story in wrestling this year, and perhaps one of the biggest in all of entertainment media, is the retirement of WWE chairman Vince McMahon. McMahon bought the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation from his father in 1982, shortening the name to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and ushering in the ’80s wrestling boom with stars like Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. McMahon served as CEO, chairman of the board and head of creative for two decades after making the purchase.
But reports of inappropriate relationships with former employees and corporate funds used to pay for said parties to remain quiet have forced McMahon out of the company. WWE is now led by co-CEOs Nick Khan and Vince’s daughter Stephanie McMahon. Former wrestler Paul Levesque (known by his ring name Triple H) was appointed head of all creative. WWE is entering its first new era of creative and corporate leadership that will trickle down to how wrestlers are presented, how they are allowed to perform and who gets a bigger spotlight. The Charleston show this Saturday will be the first of its kind under the new regime.
Professional wrestling is live theater after years of lifting weights. It perfectly adheres to the tenets of good drama laid out in Aristotle’s classic text poetics. Aristotle references Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle and Song as the essential elements of good drama, and WWE shows feature all those elements in abundance.
WWE shows are dripping with plot, whether it’s Sheamus and Drew McIntyre’s feud over who gets to be the next contender to the World Championship or Riddle looking for revenge against Seth Rollins for trying to end his career. And when it comes to characters, you’ll find few bigger than the likes of “The Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka or “The Ring General” Gunther.
When it comes to spectacle and song, WWE can’t be touched. Each wrestler arrives to an impressive and catchy theme song that you will undoubtedly be humming on the way out. The Street Profits’ “Bring the Swag” is a must-have on any workout playlist. And the entire audience will be singing along with Shinsuke Nakamura’s “The Rising Sun” or Seth Rollins’ “Visionary.” It’s a blast to be involved in that singalong.
Part of the crowd
Attending a WWE event live is like going to the theater, but getting to be a part of the show. Crowd work is a big deal in professional wrestling. Wrestlers are not only aware of the audience, but draw from them and play to them. They’ll ask for the crowd to join in on a specific chant or clap to give their partner incentive to fight back. Crowds will hurl insults at dastardly bad guys or cheer their hearts out for their favorite heroes. The communal feeling of being in a wrestling crowd is infectious. If you’ve ever gone to the theater and wanted to scream at one of the characters or boo a decision, then professional wrestling is for you.
A wrestling show is only as good as the wrestlers appearing and the matches they have, and Saturday night’s main event has an excellent card. Sheamus and Drew McIntyre are set to meet in a “Street Fight,” which means these two giants will collide with no rules and perhaps a few broken tables.
The RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair will defend her title against Asuka, Becky Lynch and Carmella in a four-way match that should be amazing. The Street Profits will try to dethrone the Tag Team Champions, The Usos. Gunther will defend his Intercontinental Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. There will also be matches featuring AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Bobby Lashley, Dolph Ziggler, Liv Morgan, Seth Rollins, Natalya and Riddle. It’s a show full of some of the biggest stars in WWE today.
Tickets are still available and start as low as $20. If you’re a wrestling fan or are interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, now’s your chance to join the crowd for a WWE live show. It’s an experience like no other.
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