Does Physique Really Matter?

I have been watching wrestling since I was a small child, later participating on the independent scene myself. When I was a child, was during the heyday of 80’s wrestling. When you look at wrestlers of yesteryear and how they have evolved over time, you notice some big changes.

Historically wrestlers were strongmen types, with maybe a few normal looking grapplers thrown into the mix. The men of the ring may have been larger, but weren’t very far outside the normal realm of what a human being looked like. Wrestlers in the early to mid 1900’s you saw body types like Stanislaus Zbyszko,  Ed Gotch, Gorgeous George, even through the early 70’s when Bruno Sammartino was the biggest star in wrestling, he wouldn’t be what is considered “fit” by today’s standards.  This all changed in the late 70’s and early 1980’s when body builders started getting recruited by promoters, like Earl Maynard in the late 60’s to Hulk Hogan and Jesse “The Body” Ventura, in the late 70’s, and that was the beginning of the era of cartoonish, over the top looking characters that continued through the the end of the century.

Fast forward to the late 90’s -2000’s and everyone looked like they stepped out of a body building contest. Chris Masters had no neck. I was seriously worried for his health during this time, as he often looked really unhealthy despite his mass, and the things you take to get this big, cause heart issues, metabolic issues, as well as put stress on your muscle tissues.  Times started to change when the company came under fire over steroid abuse, and the deaths of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero.

Right now you will notice,wrestlers don’t look like they did during the early 2000’s when steroids, HGH, and testosterone seemed to be everywhere. They have shrunk down, lost muscle mass, you can see necks again. But in this return to the days of more average looking workers, you find an ugly side of fandom. Body shaming.

Kevin Owens, is the WWE Universal Champion. Kevin began on the independent scene, and made a name for himself. He was a guy the average person could relate with, whether he was a face or a heel. He worked his ass off, and made it to the WWE. The main gripe I hear about him, is how he looks. I consistently see people say he sucks because he is “fat”. Many of these folks would either never step in the ring themselves, or seem jealous they didn’t “make it” to the same level. He was never a super slim guy but had put on a few pounds during a hiatus in the ROH day, and has lost weight from his heaviest point since his return. He’s 6′ tall and weighs a bit over 260.

Then most recently I came across this article asking if Kassius Ohno’s weight will hold him back.  People are talking about his weight gain, also stating the following…

“There are rumors that Ohno suffers from a thyroid issue that makes it difficult for him to lose weight.”

So you still feel ok posting a clickbait article about his weight gain, which could be because of a health issue? Classy. Meanwhile those of us who have watched him wrestle for the past decade (or more) respect the time and work he has put in as a wrestler and coach, while “the internet” instead of being happy for him getting a push, writes dozens of articles about how he looks? What about how he WRESTLES? Did his weight seem like it was an issue? It did not look like it to me.

You all need to reevaluate yourselves as humans. Would you like this done to you? Is it his job to entertain you with his skills or are you only entertained by looks like the WWE staff of the 90’s?

As we know men aren’t the only ones criticized for their bodies.  Women face incredible challenges with promotions both mainstream and independent. We are told to lose weight, get boob jobs, that we aren’t “pretty enough” or you don’t have the “right face”, or “right build”. Though we have seen some changes to the WWE Diva’s in this respect, we still have a long way to go. I’ll be writing more on this subject in another article.

Stop idealizing body shapes, start respecting talent.

About Liz Savage

Liz Savage is a former Independent wrestling manager, and occasional wrestler from NY, currently residing in Los Angeles. Liz is involved in social justice movements, and currently is the Digital Content Manager and staff writer for BetWrestling.


2 thoughts on “Does Physique Really Matter?
  1. Great Article. Very uncommon to see intellectual writing on pro wrestling. I’d say Superstar Graham started the current trend that seems to be waning in recent years.

    In the early 1900s many strongmen realized wrestling was more lucrative and became attractions but very few had any real success because in those days they actually needed to know how to wrestle. Only George Hackenscmidt had success in those days because he could wrestle as well as look He Man.

    The sad thing about the women is once they age a little, they are cast aside. At least Fabulous Moolah had a long run as champion. She’s probably the longest reigning champion of anything wrestling or otherwise.

  2. Looking forward to your follow up.

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