Kids, don’t try any of these at home: A body slam. The swinging neck breaker. A hip toss. Head scissors.
All are wrestling moves designed to inflict nothing but 100 percent pure amusement on the audience. If a wrestler gets hurt in the process, that’s just part of the job, said Shad Gaspard, who is one half of the WWE tag team Cryme Tyme.
“Getting hurt comes with the business. You try and avoid hurting the people you work with because they have a family. We all look out for each other. The best way to keep from getting hurt is just going all out. When you hesitate and second-guess yourself, that’s when you get hurt. You just have to let what happens happen.”
Fans of the sport can see what happens in person tonight when WWE airs its Monday Night Raw broadcast live from Nashville Arena. At-home viewers can watch at 8 p.m. on the USA Network.
“We have had WWE events here at the arena for 10 years now,” said Hugh Lombardi, general manager of Nashville Arena. “The level of energy that fills the arena during these shows is remarkable. Because the shows are such a great combination of television production, virtual reality, fan interaction and athleticism, the excitement of the fans is off the charts. It’s truly a great live event to attend.”
Gaspard agreed and compared WWE, which stands for World Wrestling Entertainment, to a religious experience.
“It’s that feeling you get from being in church,” he said. “It’s that omnipresent, big, huge spectacle, but it’s more. Look at what we do. Anything and everything does happen — that’s why we call it Raw.”
What they don’t call it is “real.” Well, at least not in the sense that the WWE brand of professional wrestling is just as it is presented on TV.
“There’s a difference between sports and sports entertainment,” Gaspard said. “We are sports entertainment. People misinterpret my job a lot. They say it’s fake, but it’s really like a live play. There’s real emotion onstage, like a Shakespeare play. People can go sit in an arena and be drawn in. They can cheer for the good guy and boo for the bad guy. We get emotion out of people more than any other sport. That’s what it’s all about.”