The Creeping Advance of World Wrestling Entertainment


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One of the sillier stories in politics this season is former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon's run for Senate from Connecticut. But I actually think that more interesting than pro wrestling's advances into politics is pro wrestling's initial steps into new entertainment fora. The Rock is obviously the most prominent example of this kind of transition, and you know you've arrived when you can squander your good looks and reasonable amount of comedic talent on stupid kids' movies. But he's not alone.

John Cena, the likable, all-American wrestler from Western Massachusetts, has stepped out in a couple of B-movies, and even earned himself an NPR interview, these days the sure sign that you're appreciated on at least an ironic level and maybe even a legitimate one. And it looks like Cody Rhodes will be the next franchise star to take a step out of the ring and into a television series, giving us three and making it a trend. He'll show up on Warehouse 13 on Tuesday night, as a potential, if temporary, love interest for a female lead, Myka.

To a certain extent, this is just another kind of celebrity guest stint. But there are a couple of things that make it different. First, they're guest stints that appeal to a certain audience subsection that may be eclectic (I would not have expected that Marc Ambinder was a wrestling fan, but it just proves that we're everywhere), but that is certainly clearly defined. You're not going to get the same wide audience recognition from putting the Big Show in an ad with the star of White Collar that you would by sitting Britney Spears behind a receptionist desk, but the folks who do get the joke are going to enjoy it on a really deep level.

Second, unlike some of the folks who swan in for an episode or an arc, pro wrestlers already have acting experience, even if said experience consists of faking getting hit in the face with a folding chair. They've already made a minimal cut to prove they've got basic talent. And third, I tend to think that pro wrestlers often make good potential comedians. They're frequently at least reasonably self-aware, and those who make the leap are often especially conscious of the ridiculousness of their day jobs. It'll be interesting of the Rock's trajectory ends up paving a path for Cena, and whether Rhodes can follow them both into some kind of viable career outside the ring.