The Squared Circle Stage

Professional Wrestling and Historical Theatre Styles


  • A.C. Tate Saarland University



performance theory, theater, world drama, sports, American Studies


Though largely unknown to the public or the academic community, the aspects, technical stylings, and performance structure of professional wrestling have been firmly established throughout the late-20th and early 21st Century. The artistic medium has existed largely in its current form since the 1920’s. And though each successive generation of artists demonstrate a new evolutionary stage of the performance art, the performative structure remains largely the same. The stalwart aspects of the performance are therefore the institutions of the subgenre and are therefore apt examples for comparative analysis with other styles of theatre. This section will provide comparative analyses of professional wrestling with the following three theatrical styles: Italy’s Commedia Dell’arte, ancient Greek drama, and Japanese Kabuki theatre. Reliable primary and secondary sources will be consulted in the establishment of the norms of professional wrestling and the theatrical styles discussed herein. This the paper will also include a subsection dedicated to a competing theory of professional wrestling as demonstration martial arts or another performance field tentatively titled “performance sport.” This article will demonstrate the amalgamation of performance styles already present in professional wrestling.


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