World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.
WWE Smackdown matches are visibly fake and weirdly thrilling.
Now we come to wrath, the sin the Lord's soul detesteth. I detesteth it pretty strongly myself. I avoid sports arenas, death metal shows and any other place where wrath reigns king. I'm a pacifist at heart and, frankly, kind of a coward.
The event I chose for wrath was one I dared not attend alone. I chose seats in the furthest reaches of the highest rows, far from the fists of belligerent fans. I wore muted colors. I tried to blend in. I put 9-1-1 on speed dial.
Where I was going, of course, was WWE Smackdown.
"SNOW cones! Cherry SNOW cones!"
Pallets of red and blue snow cones twirled through the rows below. Towering cotton candies bobbed like pink clouds. In the row beside me, a little girl in Coke-bottle glasses held her father's hand. This was not the hell mouth of wrath I was expecting.
As the lights went down on May 28 in the Coliseum (1919 Alliant Energy Center Way), there was a palpable buzz in the air. A woman climbed into the ring wearing an improbably short dress. "Hubba hubba!" the man behind me shouted, hilariously. She introduced our host for the evening, retired wrestler Million Dollar Man.
The matches were ballet-like in their choreography, and despite being visibly fake, they were weirdly thrilling. When a villain entered the ring, the audience broke into a deafening chorus: "You suck! You suck!" The villains delivered ire-filled speeches, taunting the audience and their opponents. By the end of the show, we wondered why we didn't watch this every week. After a night of shouting and vicarious rage, I felt calm, relaxed, collected, like the end of an emotional release. Maybe a little wrath isn't so bad after all.