Professional wrestling, when you come right down to it, is sociology, but more on that in a bit. As someone who has watched pro wrestling since 1984 when I was nine years old, I’ve discovered there are three levels of pro wrestling fandom.
In the first, which is hopefully confined to childhood, the fan believes the action in the ring is an actual competition rather than the predetermined exhibition it actually is. At the second level, the fan realizes the winners and losers are known before anyone heads to the ring, but can still suspend disbelief and enjoy the action, over-the-top drama and comic book pageantry of one of the only true American art forms.
Then there’s the third level of pro wrestling fandom, in which the fan realizes, yes, the match results are planned ahead of time, but those results, and the champions wearing the belts, are, more often than not, decided by which wrestler has performed better in the ring – and connected better with the audience – over his or her career.
So, what you really see in the pro wrestling ring is very much a competition, as there are only so many top spots in a given company – and not every wrestler is capable of having the same match, or making the promoter the same money, as every other.
And that brings us back to sociology.
Once you realize wrestlers really are competing for the top spots in their federations, you realize it is the audience reaction, and the wrestler’s ability to relate to the people in the seats, which most often carries stars to the top.
Because of this fact, some harsh realities of American sociology come into play. White over black. Fit over flab. Men favored more than women. Blonde over brunette.
While there were exceptions to every rule, traditionally, the people most often to get ahead in real life were the ones most likely to wear the World Wrestling Federation Championship and the big, gold belt representing the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
While things aren’t quite as clear-cut along the above described lines in today’s pro wrestling scene – which hopefully is reflective of social change – Fight Card books typically deal with yesteryear, and my latest entry in the series, Job Girl is no different.
Given what we’ve discussed, how do you think a thirty-something redhead, who’s had a baby and her face slashed, would be received in a 1956 suburban Illinois pro wrestling ring? What happens to someone whose life has been one defeat after another when that history translates directly to the often dark reflection of society that is professional wrestling? That’s what Fight Card: Job Girl is about.
When I wrote Fight Card: Monster Man, my first entry in the series, Vicky was the secondary character who intrigued me most. Given the way her character exited Monster Man, a story which wasn’t hers to begin with, I thought, if Monster Man were to have a sequel, Vicky was the character I wanted to follow on a further adventure.
But Vicky is a woman. And I’m not.
I’ll admit, my first notion was to go for broke and write this book in first-person from Vicky’s point of view. I quickly decided it would probably come off as a gimmick at best or be a farcical disaster at worst. So, since I’ve never written a close third-person point of view story with a female main character before, I decided that was enough of a challenge.
In the end, I think Vicky and I got on well. I feel I know her. I also understand she is the kind of woman who could get me to do anything, so I hope she didn’t trick me into telling a story more favorable to her than it should be.
If Monster Man was about metaphorical losers, Job Girl is about someone whose lot in life is literal defeat. Vicky has never been anything in the ring but pinned on the canvas looking up at the lights. However, I saw that pattern just might be the catalyst to bring her all the way back, if not to where she started, to someplace she never thought she’d go.