E. E. Ottoman made the mistake earlier of asking on Twitter for pro wrestling match recommendations. I was like, “Wrestling! Do I!” so of course had to rec this.

For those of you who aren’t into wrestling, this 1998 Hell in a Cell between Mick “Mankind” Foley and the Undertaker is one of the most infamous in modern wrestling (spoilers for the fight in the interview). It’s also one of the most bloody and, no, that’s not fake blood; when Foley is getting thrown off the wire cage and, later, onto the– well, I wouldn’t want to spoil the finale. But when that happens, that’s actually happening.

When people sneer at wrestling for being “fake”, these are the matches I point out. Yes, wrestling is scripted–it’s not the 1940s any more, I’m pretty sure everyone is across the kayfabe by now–but it doesn’t take watching much of it to realise that, holy shit, these guys and girls are fucking athletes. The difference between the WWE and something like the UFC is really only in the goals of the people in the ring. In the UFC, the fighters are looking to win. In the WWE, they’re looking to entertain, and they put themselves through hell to do it.

One of the most interesting things I think about the WWE, is that–by its own claims–its viewership is around 40% women, and that the main reason cited for why women enjoy it is “the stories”. (Half-naked men grappling with each other likely coming in a close second.) I’ve definitely noticed a shift in the program since I started watching back in what’s called the Attitude Era. There are a lot more matches now that seemed aimed towards women, be they involving the Divas (there’s always been a non-trivial amount of cheesecake fanservice from female wrestlers, but recently things are shifting towards showing more female strength, power, and fitness as well as just sexiness… also Stephanie McMahon will fuck your shit up), or the more “sleek ‘n’ sexy” male wrestlers (or CM Punk, who’s looking more-and-more like Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine every time I see him).

So… yeah. I like wrestling. I like watching it, but it’s fascinating to deconstruct both on the business and the narrative side, as well.

Just, uh. So long as you’re not too squeamish about blood…