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A professional wrestling match in Sikeston, Missouri in May 1938, where two wrestlers grapple in a wrestling ring while a referee, dressed in white, looks on
|Originating era||19th century|
Professional wrestling is a dramatized athletic performance inspired by competitive combat sports. Taking the form of live events held by touring promotions, it is a unique style of combat based on a combination of adopted styles, which include classical wrestling, catch wrestling and various forms of martial arts, as well as an innovative style based on grappling (holds/throws), striking, and aerialism. Various forms of weaponry are sometimes used.
The content – including match outcomes – is choreographed and the combative actions and reactions are performed to appear violent without injuring the wrestlers. Before the 1980s, these facts were kept highly secret, after which they were openly declared. By and large, the true nature of the content is ignored by the performing promotion in official media in order to sustain and promote the willing suspension of disbelief for the audience by maintaining an aura of verisimilitude. Fan communications by individual wrestlers and promotions through outside media (i.e., interviews) will often directly acknowledge the fictional nature of the spectacle, making the predetermined nature of the sport something of an open secret. The presentation of scripted events as legitimate is known as "kayfabe".
Although the combative content is staged and communicated between the wrestlers, there are legitimate physical hazards resulting in serious injury and death in limited cases, due to the realism and contact involved in the performance.
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