chapter  8
13 Pages

Allusion and the reality of power

Professional wrestling and technology’s role in the re-creation of the referee
WithShirley J. Oakley

Throughout professional wrestling, the presence of a referee creates a perception of rules that concern safety for wrestlers in the ring, thereby allowing audiences to believe that wrestling is a legitimate sport rather than an orchestrated performance. Yet the convergence of technology in professional wrestling, most notably the wireless earpiece, allows the referee to relay instructions to the wrestlers. This chapter examines how the professional wrestling referee’s role has become dependent upon technology that grants the wrestling promoter invisible control over the wrestling event. Focusing mainly on NXT referee Drake Wuertz, this chapter considers how the professional wrestling referee’s role has changed from a mostly invisible third character who maintains the illusion of competition to an active participant who is equal parts director, actor, first responder, and scapegoat.