All caught up in the kayfabe: understanding and appreciating pro-wrestling

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Professional wrestling is a popular, global, performance phenomenon that is in many respects sport-like, but tends to be shunned by serious sports fans for its alleged ‘fakeness’. Yet its own fans often behave exactly like regular sports fans: getting caught up in the action, responding emotionally to the performances, and engaging in critical analysis of the competitive strategies and the turns of events. How does this alleged ‘fake sport’ engender such complex and deeply emotional appreciation? Here I provide an analysis of pro-wrestling that explains and emphasises its narrative, dramatic and fictional aspects, showing it to be a complex representational work that can be appreciated aesthetically and emotionally on a number of levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-291
JournalJournal of the Philosophy of Sport
Issue number2
Early online date15 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Professional wrestling
  • Fiction
  • Fictional worlds
  • Kayfabe
  • Make-believe
  • Spectacle
  • Appreciation


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