The AtlanticThe Atlantic

How wrestling explains America

By John Hendrickson

26 Mar 2023 · 11 min read

Editor's Note

Wrestling is a spectacle that is in many ways both real and fake. It's also a business that has a profound influence on American culture and politics, according to this Atlantic essay.

Awash in strobes, Seth “Freakin” Rollins begins his waltz to the ring. His nemesis, the YouTube star Logan Paul, is there waiting for him.

Rollins pauses beneath the jumbotron and holds his arms outstretched like Christ the Redeemer. Green and purple spotlights dart and swirl around Boston’s TD Garden. Thousands of fans start screaming the “whoa-ohh-ohh” part of Rollins’s theme song; exponentially more are live-tweeting the broadcast at home. It’s just before 9 o’clock on a frigid Monday in March—we haven’t even reached Act II of the three-hour pageant. RAW debuted 30 years ago and remains the top-rated cable program nearly every week, trouncing Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow, whose fiery monologues are—knowingly or not—greatly influenced by those of professional wrestlers.

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