INTRODUCTION

[I’ve got a] pinched nerve in my neck, several broken fingers, broken wrist.
I have never seen the doctor about injuries in my knees, but they’re wear-
ing down. I use to wear just pads, then went to knee pads, knee braces,
and now it’s knee pads and knee braces with the springs in the sides. Even-
tually I’ll be moving up to hinges, I can foresee it already. I limp to work
a lot of days. When it rains, it’s hard to get up. And for a young guy, that’s
not something you hear. I have arthritis, torn rotator cuffs.
—FISHMAN, TWENTY- EIGHT- YEAR- OLD INDIE WRESTLER
Your life literally does a one- eighty, everything totally and completely
changes, and everything’s about wrestling. I mean, everything.
—DONNY, TWENTY- THREE- YEAR- OLD INDIE WRESTLER
I would rather be struggling to pay my bills wrestling two or three times
a month on the weekends, few times a week during practice. That’s what
makes me happy. You know? That’s what it comes down to. There’s very
few things that make me feel like I do when I walk out [through] that red
curtain.
—TONY, TWENTY- TWO- YEAR- OLD INDIE WRESTLER
Professional wrestling is physical theater where spectators pay to
be entertained by performers who act out a fight. The shows, es-
pecially those produced by the most profitable company, World
Wrestling Entertainment Corporation (wwe), have made pro
wrestling among the most watched sports in the United States,
capturing roughly 15 million American television viewers every
week.1
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