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What Is Professional Wrestling?

Professional wrestling is a sport with elements of theater and mock combat.
Female professional wrestling has grown in popularity with contestants known as "divas" competing against one another.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a famous professional wrestler who went on to have a successful acting career.
Professional wrestling has few similarities to other versions of the sport contested at collegiate and amateur levels.
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  • Written By: Dana Hinders
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
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  • Last Modified Date: 30 July 2014
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Professional wrestling is a sport which combines elements of theater and mock combat with catch wrestling. In comparison with the Olympic sports of Greco-Roman wrestling and freestyle wrestling, professional wrestling is a flashier activity in which personality, style, and the ability to generate a response from the crowd count just as much as physical prowess. Some moves are choreographed and athletes must follow a loose script in order to keep the show on track, but the majority of what you see is real action.

Many people feel professional wrestling can trace its origins back to the carnival sideshows and music halls of the 19th century. Today, however, the dominant group in professional wrestling is the United States-based World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The WWE was known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) until 2000, when the World Wide Fund for Nature sued the company claiming it violated agreements for the use of the WWF initials. The chairman of the WWE is Vince McMahon, who along with his wife Linda and children Shane and Stephanie, frequently appears in plotlines designed to add extra interest to Raw, SmackDown, and ECW shows.

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If you're unfamiliar with the world of professional wrestling, you might assume this is an activity for men only. However, women are becoming increasingly successful as pro wrestlers. In the WWE, female wrestlers are referred to as Divas and an annual competition called the WWE Diva Search is held each summer to attract new talent. The women wear skimpy outfits, but their matches do require a fair amount of athletic ability and serious injuries are not uncommon.

Those who enjoy watching professional wrestling often dream of becoming WWE superstars themselves. Catching the eye of WWE talent scouts isn't easy, but there are many pro wrestling schools that can help provide the training necessary to be successful. For example, the Funking Conservatory Wrestling School is run by former NWA World Champion Dory Funk Jr. and has trained pro wrestlers such as Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Chris Sabin, Christopher Daniels, Test, Christian Cage, Rhino, Mark Henry, Val Venis, A-Train, Paul London, Lita, Edge, and Ted DiBiase.

It's true that successful professional wrestlers make a great deal of money from their notoriety. Some wrestlers, such as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, have even managed to turn their celebrity into a more traditional acting career. However, the life of a pro wrestler is far from easy. Injuries are very common, sometimes cutting a career short. Additionally, the rigorous travel schedule makes it very hard to maintain some semblance of a normal family life.

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