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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Professional wrestling is a performance art in which the line between fact and fiction is often obscured. Much of the existing scholarship on the medium that examines its dynamics regard reality and artifice focuses on the role of the artificial, analyzing pro-wrestling as primarily a form of heightened spectacle akin to passion plays or soap opera. However, professional wrestling in Japan, particularly that found in the country's largest promotion, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, features many elements that resemble real sports much more closely than many American promotions. These elements include fighting styles, wrestler injury, characters that do not fit easily into defined archetypes, stories focused on win-loss records, promos that resemble press releases, and audiences who react to the show not only like a performance, but also as if it were a real sport. At the same time, it does still feature many spectacular and heightened elements found throughout the pro-wrestling world, resulting in an overall aesthetic of qualified realism. This realism is a defining element of promotions like New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and it serves to make characters and their stories relatable to audiences in ways that are more difficult for other promotions. This reveals unique thematic qualities of Japanese pro-wrestling, in addition to demonstrating the aesthetic diversity of the genre as a whole.


First Advisor

Bruce Baird

Second Advisor

Amanda Seaman

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.