She explains that the British introduced Cricket in the Trobriand Islands to replace ritualized warfare. “However, the Trobriand Islanders didn’t adopt cricket in the way that the British intended. It was an instant hit, but rather than stick to the white man’s rules, Trobriand Islanders mixed together the style of cricket with the aesthetics and rituals of warfare. Over time, they invented new chants–many of them lewd–and transformed the game into a social event with plenty of food and drink.”
Much like Trobriand Cricket, lucha libre and other forms of exhibition wrestling around the world mix together sport style with local aesthetics. In fact, I use the phrase exhibition wrestling rather than professional wrestling because rather than exemplifying pure athletic competition, these events also incorporate elements of performance. Though debates over whether exhibition wrestling is “real” or “fake” span generations and continents, the extent to which the productions engage an audience with flashy costumes, charismatic characters, and compelling storylines is undeniable. Exhibition wrestling events sometimes have predetermined winners and choreographed moves. There are referees but they often function as symbols of sport rather than actually enforcing rules, and sometimes even help wrestlers break the established rules.
Grindstaff, Laura and Emily West
2006 Cheerleading and the Gendered Politics of Sport. Social Problems 53(4):500-518.