Performance and Professional Wrestling

“It is a sincere pleasure to read a book with a total focus on wrestling, where names like The Undertaker or Chris Benoit get used with the same frequency as Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Marina Abramović. One refreshing aspect of this collection is the many new and emerging voices of performance studies who are helping to shape an academic appreciation of wrestling as a performance experience. Veteran scholars of performance studies and wrestling like Sharon Mazer—who adds an epilogue filled with personal anecdotes about seeing wrestling in New Zealand—are included in this volume as well. This book deserves a broad readership, as its success at drawing connections among theatre, performance, and wrestling helps to expand the boundaries of theatre and performance studies” (270)

Theatre Journal 70, no. 2 (June 2018): 269–271.

“The overall quality of the scholarship is exemplary throughout the anthology, but two essays in particular stand out. One of these is co-editor Eero Laine’s “Stadium-Sized Theatre: WWE and the World of Professional Wrestling,” wherein the author examines how characters, storylines, and fan reactions are shaped and manipulated in a global business paradigm that is centered on live events that capture a huge Pay-Per-View audience. Laine follows the story of popular everyman wrestler Daniel Bryan, demonstrating how his real-life promotional push and subsequent rejection by management was mirrored in plot storylines that stretched out over months. Laine reveals how even “legitimate” fan protests at a televised Chicago show about executive decisions were co-opted by the WWE into their storylines, and his study provides penetrating insights into the complex dynamics that exist between fans, talent, management, and investors. Like a perceptive theatre critic, Laine digs into the motivations and reactions of both spectators and performers” (112).

Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 33, no.2 (2019): 111–113.

“Edited by Broderick Chow, Eero Lane, and Claire Warden, Performance and Professional Wrestling is a substantial collection of essays that looks beyond confirming wrestling as a performance art medium and instead asserts the vitality of the form as a catalyst for socio-political transformation…Each author leaves their imprint on the practical application and theoretical study of professional wrestling. This style allows the reader to dive into the form analytically as well as narratively. Broderick Chow, Eero Lane, and Claire Warden have compiled an anthology of excellence in socio-political theory and criticism of the form. Performance and Professional Wrestling is a treasure of essays from a diverse collection of expert sources that dives into the craft of creating social revolution through wrestling performance.

Liminalities 16 no. 1 (2020).

“It will be referenced by the next generation of students and scholars who move into this exciting area of cultural studies and performance. Chow, Laine, and Warden have gifted wrestling studies with a significant and important new text, whose absences only speak to the potential that the discipline holds for new and exciting work. The critical framework is well defined and guides the book into surprising areas that are a delight to encounter. The writing is universally sound, the research is of high quality, and the individual contributors represent either exciting new emergent minds or thoughtful and provocative established scholars. It’s a must read, if for no other reason that it develops a highly viable critical frame that not only starts discussions, but encourages and welcomes participation by new voices” (352).

The Popular Culture Studies Journal 6, no. 1 (2018): 349–352.

Performance and Professional Wrestling, a collection of essays edited by Broderick Chow, Eero Laine, and Claire Warden, is a rare volume which attempts to re-contextualize pro wrestling as what it is—a performance art with overtones of sport – and in so doing makes a strong case for the form to be considered at least from that perspective, if not also as a broader means of understanding our cultural anxieties and norms” (77–78).

Communication Booknotes Quarterly 49, no. 3 (2018): 77–79.

“It is apparent that Chow, Lane and Warden intend their collection to be a useful resource for those interested in all areas of performance studies. Its content ventures beyond the parameters of contemporary and mainstream examples to cite evidence from historical and more obscure sources which provides a strong range of analysis and adds to the overall depth and quality of research within the book. It is an engaging and enjoyable read that can be employed alongside other academic literature to constructively critique live performance. The editors’ original desires to ‘develop an updated methodology for pro wrestling’ (1) have certainly been achieved” (2).

Studies in Theatre and Performance 39 (2019): 1–2.