Professional wrestling studies appears to lie at the brink of legitimization. At least two reasons exist for the creation of the Professional Wrestling Studies Association, which could help further the cause of legitimization.
First, wrestling has become more widely available because of digital communication technologies that allow for the distribution of matches from different promotions as well as communiques from the wrestlers themselves. For example, the WWE Network gives fans the ability to access decades’ worth of matches from different promotions either owned or licensed by WWE, and it provides a storehouse for newer programming meant to further the appeal of WWE Superstars, such as Table for Three, Ride Along, and Swerved. In addition, both WWE and other promotions from around the world are using online resources like YouTube to distribute their matches (although YouTube’s new advertising edicts may change that); independent wrestlers use the same technologies to promote themselves via platforms like Twitter and YouTube; and fans use social media to curate and critique wrestling texts. Thus, the internet, social media, and mobile technologies have expanded the amount of wrestling texts available to analyze, making available wrestling from various time periods and from around the world.
Second, while professional wrestling has been analyzed for years, the field of study has seen an expansion in recent years. Scholarship on professional wrestling has previously focused on understanding the fictional nature of “sports entertainment” and critiquing the matches, wrestlers, and promotions for being misogynist, racist, jingoist, etc. The current expansion appears to involve a range of disciplines, theories, methodologies and methods that seek to study the various aspects of professional wrestling. Recent publications have examined professional wrestling from the perspectives of performance studies, fan studies, convergence studies, political economic studies, reception studies, and so forth. This expansion demonstrates the potential for professional wrestling studies, while also validating the usefulness of studying it as another popular culture text, economic system, and location of fan activity.
These two reasons — as well as their interaction, and most likely other reasons — reveal the need to organize around the study of professional wrestling by bringing together those who either conduct or have an interest in conducting such work. The Professional Wrestling Studies Association is intended to provide this organizing force, whereby it would connect such international researchers together — wherever they are located, at whatever level of their academic career they are in, and even if they are more fan than scholar — to share their work and help one another complete theirs. Coming together in such an organization, to connect and to share, should help further the cause of legitimizing professional wrestling studies.
Overall, the intention of the Professional Wrestling Studies Association is to help academics, fans, and professionals organize around the study of professional wrestling to share their work and support one another, and thereby work towards the legitimization of the field.
Currently, the Professional Wrestling Studies Association exists as this website and blog to serve as a curated collection of writings and multimedia presentations for the discussion, analysis, and critique of all texts related to professional wrestling. A goal will be to move beyond this website/blog to create a professional association that can oversee publications and conferences.
If you are interested in providing content for the website/blog or helping to organize the professional association, then see our contact information here.
The Professional Wrestling Studies Association’s logo comes courtesy of Mario Alonzo Dozal (Manchester University). We thank Mario for his brilliant throwback design.
In this video you will see several PWSA contributors discussing the past, present, and future of professional wrestling at the 2017 C2E2 conference: