Athletes are proud of their power, speed, and agility — this is what defines them. Their physical prowess and dexterity are the reasons why they’re super-human and they like to show off their fitness and endurance as much as possible. But ironically, being a pro wrestler requires an athlete to assume the role of helplessness and weakness, to show vulnerability, to be reduced to a quivering, moaning, exhausted rag-doll. To be a pro wrestler, it’s important to be muscular and in shape, and also to swallow one’s pride and learn how to suffer. You have to sell the pain, out cold, your chest and stomach exposed to more punishment. You have to be willing to scream: “Look at me! I’m weak and hurt and emasculated and powerless!”
Why do wrestling fans like to see their favorite wrestlers in agony, utterly destroyed, devoid of all strength and virility? Because suffering evokes sympathy. To live is to suffer. We all must endure all sorts of humiliating afflictions, addictions, frailty, and pain, so our hearts go out to others in this predicament. You may respect the power and efficiency of a machine, but you can’t love a machine, because a machine feels no pain, and a robot never cries. Weakness is lovable. Superman is boring to watch if he easily wins every fight, but give him a big dose of Kryptonite so he’s reduced to kneeling before Lex Luthor, and now you’ll have our interest. The true beauty of pro wrestling lies not in the strength and stamina of the winner, but in the frailty, vulnerability, and suffering of the loser.