Many people scoff at the mention of the WWE. It is seen as a juvenile form of entertainment that is inappropriate for viewing. Some aspects of the WWE may fit this explanation, but it is not all that different from other sports.
To truly enjoy the WWE, one must forget about the fact that it is not all real. It is obvious that a person could not take such a physical beating and continue to fight, but this is all part of the WWE.
However, it must be understood that these “performers” are truly athletes. Their bodies are abused, even though most people view the business as entirely fake. The athletes risk their bodies to entertain their fans, and to stay in the business.
A comparison to pro sports is a special teams player in the NFL. Most special teamers are fighting for a roster spot and will do anything to prove themselves. This includes trying to throw huge blocks that can result in injuries to the neck or other parts of the body. All of this risk can bring reward, but at a high cost. The reward earned by the wrestlers in the WWE is popularity among fans. Even if they achieve heal or villain status they are still popular.
This aspect of heroes and villains is something that is seen in all sports. If the Miami Heat were a wrestling stable, they would be booed out of nearly every arena, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t popular.
The other side of popularity features a wrestler who is loved by the masses. This single person gives people someone to cheer for. This is no different to cheering for a sports team. The result of the match can either bring joy or disappointment. A die-hard John Cena fan, who is also a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, will be just as upset if he loses a match as if the Red Sox lost.
The predetermined outcome of a WWE match is one that makes many people dislike the business. Yes, the outcome is previously determined, but do the fans know what it is? The outcome of a wrestling match is unknown before it actually ends, just as is any other sporting event.
A basketball game is never fixed (most of the time), but the outcome is never known to fans before the completion of the game. Even though wrestling is knowingly fixed, fans cannot determine the outcome of each match beforehand without watching and following along.
I realize that wrestling will never be accepted as a sport along with baseball, football, and basketball, but it should not be seen as something that has nothing to do with sports. Just sit down and watch an episode of Monday Night Raw and the similarities will become evident.