Thinking about analysing wrestling

I’ve been thinking a lot about wrestling over the past couple of years. 

I dropped out of the hobby for a while, keeping up only via the Flagship podcast from Voices of Wrestling. But when the rumours of CM Punk coming back began I thought it was the time for me to jump back in. 

I wrote a weekly review of AEW Rampage for over a year. I still track and star rate every match I watch in a spreadsheet, you’d assume I was thinking about this more than most “normal” fans. 

But what I have always struggled with, and find difficult to come to terms with, is how difficult I find analysing wrestling. Maybe this is not the sort of thing you should admit publicly, and least of all on your wrestling related blog, but I do!

I found myself not really reviewing Rampage, but writing blow-by-blow play-by-play commentary of the matches. That’s not analysis. 

It has its place in the wrestling media ecosystem for sure, but loads of people can do play-by-play reviews of TV shows in a better and, importantly for that kind of weekly content, much more timely way than I could. 

But why was I falling into the trap of doing play-by-play? I’m sure it is a trap that many people fall into. 

Wrestling, as we all know, doesn’t fit neatly into the standard categorisation the rest of the world uses. 

I was, in essence, treating wrestling like a sport, like writing a match report for a sports website. I was recanting the key moments of action that happened and the impact they were having on who was going to win the “game”. 

But that was leaving an important aspect of wrestling, the performance and the story, to one side. 

I needed to engage the side of my brain I would use to analyse films or TV shows as well, but I was never able to. 

I admire the people who are able to do high level wrestling criticism of this kind. It's a beautiful balance I have not (yet) been able to achieve. It makes me laugh that the wonderful medium of wrestling makes not only its performers straddle this delicate line, but those who seek to talk about it too! 

I want to spend more time this year really thinking deeper about wrestling, trying to really get my brain around it more completely than I have before. I want to think about what kind of values and perspectives I can bring, working out what works best for my brain. 

I’m trying to seek out different criticism too. I don’t want just regular show recaps any more, or kayfabe interviews with talent. 

The Stevie Richards channel has been a really interesting insight into the way that a wrestler thinks about the industry and the work. His analysis and almost half-time at a sports game presentation with freeze frames and drawing on screens, is fascinating and should be explored by more people. 

If we can pull on sports criticisms and entertainment criticism to talk about pro wrestling, we should be able to take the best from all those worlds and make it work for wrestling. 

I have never read a proper theatre critic but I guess that is a pretty close approximation to wrestling. How do they talk about it? What can we all learn from them? How do they convey the physical, spectacle, and emotional aspects of their medium? How do they work in economic analysis and fan culture and the desire to grow and improve the industry?

The Gentlemen's Wrestling Podcast has also been a fascinating insight into the way that wrestling media members think. And the recent increase in column inches written about the quality, or lack thereof, of wrestling media has really got me thinking about the industry as whole in a new way. 

All this is to say: I am looking to both write and read about wrestling this year in a different way. And I encourage you to do the same.

Wrestling is at a magical crossroads of so many kinds of media and we the people who want to write and think deeply about this industry and this art should look to our colleagues in other areas to build on their great work. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we do need to look to either side of us and understand how more “traditional” art is critiqued and analysed.


The Snapmare Standard is a wrestling blog written by Steven Lehmann available at 

You can follow him on Twitter @StevxnL


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