The Decline of the Republic – The Professional Wrestling Stage, pt3: Work, Shoot, or Screwjob?

It kind of began as a joke, but by now I’m surprised at how professional wrestling (1970s-80s version) helps me understand the 2016 election. Of course a country where the politics increasingly mimics professional wrestling is not one whose social development could be described as…. uplifting, but here we are (or rather, there you are, I’m sitting it all out in Europe).

First some vocabulary (nb these are all countable nouns):

work – Your standard wrestling match with the result determined ahead of time. Usually the finish (end of the match) and some, but not all of the rest of the match was planned as well.

shoot – When the theatrical and semi-choreographed action is replaced by a real physical altercation. The main reason that professional wrestling was a theatrical performance rather than a real fight is that real fights are just not very…. photogenic. You can find some shoots on youtube and they are ugly, predictable, one-sided and too short to attract much audience interest. They are often caused by a wrestler either working stiff (actually hitting the opponent) and/or no-selling (not reacting theatrically to their opponent’s blows against them).

screwjob – When the fight is fixed (as usual) but management forgot to tell one of the participants. A screwjob is useful for taking a championship away from a wrestler without having to go through the usual negotiations of when and how.

worked shoot – a work designed to look like a shoot (yeah, the title of this here blog).

Something I’ve thought a lot about were two specific contests, Clinton vs Sanders and Clinton vs Trump. I’m still not entirely sure about what happened and why…

Clinton vs Sanders – In retrospect (and in light of wikileaks revelations) is seems more and more like a work that almost turned into a shoot. First, he seemed to come out of nowhere (maybe for people actually living in the US he had been on the radar). I can understand that Clinton doesn’t want her road to the nomination to look too much like a coronation because that would be the end of press coverage. She wanted an opponent or two that would lose handily and make her look good going into the nomination. Sanders was essentially a jobber. But, for various reasons, he began to go over and that went to his head and he started no selling and working stiff against her. I almost want to go back and look through Clinton’s speeches in April or so to see if she tells him to go home (the signal given by one wrestler to the other to end the match).

Clinton vs sTrump – Similar to Clinton vs Sanders but with a few key differences. For a time I was convinced that Trump (a longtime acquaintance of Bill Clinton) had gotten into the race as a screwjob against the other Republicans and after he caused enough mayhem and discord he would withdraw. This way, Clinton could co-opt some of his positions and run from the right (as did her husband back in the day). Or was it a double screwjob against both the Republican field and the Democrats? Or am I just overthinking this?

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