Professional wrestling is the sport of wrestling that is most often performed as a way of entertainment, not competition. There are forms of professional wrestling that exist as legitimate competitive sports (such as in Japan) but the most common form in the United States is a sport of entertainment. The legitimacy of professional wrestling as a sport may be controversial but its popularity as an entertainment medium is undeniable.
As a form of entertainment, the wrestlers in professional wrestling are actors as well as athletes. The vast majority of all events, as well as outcomes of matches, are rehearsed and predetermined. The wrestlers go into a match knowing who will win the end, but not always what moves will be used throughout the match.
One of the major components of professional wrestling is the use of storylines; in fact, some even believe that the storylines are more interesting than the actual wrestling. The storylines are scripted and add the drama to the sport which in turn leads too much of its appeal. Storylines portray the wrestlers forming alliances as well enemies and feuds and also encourages the fans to support particular wrestlers.
Two other aspects that work with storylines to give professional wrestling the feeling of a dramatic TV show are the characters and ring entrances. Many of the wrestlers adopt characters that take the place of their real identity. A wrestler’s character defines the way that they act in and out of the ring and how they are viewed by the fans. Popular past and present characters include: Hollywood Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Kane, Sting, Triple H, and The Rock. Ring entrances are nearly as much a part of a wrestler as their character. Some common aspects of entrances include personalized music, some type of trademark behavior, pyrotechnics, smoke, and the use of lights; some have even used the occasional motorcycle or car.
The rules that govern professional wrestling are drastically different than those of traditional wrestling. A match is governed by a referee who controls the match, intervenes when necessary, and supposedly determines the winner (although it is now known that matches are predetermined). However, the rules and referee can be disregarded if it the need is determined to exist. A wrestler wins by either pinning his opponent’s shoulders to the mat for three seconds (pinfall), submission, count-out, or disqualification.