Taking God to the mat

The biblical world of pro wrestling
The lurid and violent world of World Wrestling Entertainment, which claims an audience of 50 million worldwide, includes microphone-grabbing diatribes by rival wrestlers, “candid” camera shots from the locker rooms, the ringside connivance of wrestlers’ girlfriends, and the dramatic on-screen and ringside presence of WWE owner-impresario Vincent McMahon.

This blue-collar opera, as it has been called, also draws on biblical images and themes, according to Hugh S. Pyper, senior lecturer in biblical studies at the University of Sheffield in England. Pyper says the Bible provides “a ready set of imagery . . . of power, destruction, revenge and judgment. . . . I cannot now read the book of Judges without casting the characters in a WWE extravaganza.” He was referring to the Old Testament text focused on idolatry, divine punishments and the story of Samson and Delilah.


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