Debating the proper category of wrestling

So the question is, is professional wrestling a sport or entertainment? The comment that was made in a previous column is that it was not a sport.

However, CNWA promoter/wrestler and our wrestling expert Vern May seems to think so. In fact, he was a huge advocate to get Brett Hart inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (ABSHOF). But that nomination was denied. Mainly, because there are no professional wrestlers inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

That’s because there is no professional wrestling wing at the Hall of Fame. There are hockey players in the hall, which includes both pro and amateur athletes, there’s even wrestlers but no professionals wrestlers.

No Brett ‘The Hitman’ Hart in the Hall. (Let that sink in). Of course, there is a chance that he gets in as a builder for the Calgary Hitmen, but really it would seem like a consolation prize because he is no longer the owner of the team.

That doesn’t sit well with Vern May.

“If you want to watch wrestling on television, it doesn’t show up in the movie section of your Shaw listings, it shows up in the sports section.

“If you want to go to get a wrestling book at Chapters you don’t go to the television section, you go to sports section.”

He may have a point, however, questioning the ASHOF is hardly fair. Or is it? Has May pleaded his case to the ASHOF?

“I have invited the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame to welcome me to one of their meetings so I can speak to the topic directly, and I was declined.”

With almost 20 years in professional wrestling and over 1,400 matches, May has little chance at getting into the Hall of Fame if Brett ‘the Hitman’ Hart can’t get in.

“Down the road after a lifetime stint in sport, I’m going to be denied entry to a sports hall of fame recognizing my contributions (all) because someone doesn’t understand professional wrestling. And that is a very frustrating and sad thing”

But with these pre-determined outcomes who could blame them?

I mean the hitting is not as striking as a punch to the face in mixed martial arts is it?

May says they’re similar. “This is a rough, rough business and a very physical sport and one that people don’t understand but I don’t understand the grading of figure skating but I don’t dismiss the artistic merit of it, or the athleticism that it takes to do what they do.”

Wrestling is physical and artistic, a lot like figure skating but there is something that figure skating offers. A score. I mean seriously, how do you score professional wrestling?

“The competition in wrestling and what elevates a wrestler to the top level is the competition between matches. Who can have the best match of the night.”

For an individual wrestler, the more talented and versatile you are and the better the show you can put on, the better you are.

“What makes Shawn Michaels great and Brett Hart great is that these guys can go out there in the ring with someone who has the talent of a broomstick and be able to make that guy look like a five star wrestler.”

And when you think of it that way, I guess it makes sense. No one televises sports that aren’t entertaining. Those sports are scored based on whether people want to watch them. And in sports entertainment sells. Yes, we love to watch Lebron, Ovechkin and Halladay, but their greatness comes from being able to raise their game against any opponent.

So if you score wrestlers based on their ability to entertain it’s not far off from, say, scoring figure skating. And if you’re keeping score, Brett ‘The Hitman’ Hart has been shut out of the Hall of Fame.