UPDATED: Submissions Due Wednesday, September 24th
Earlier this year, I wrote about my experience meeting Mick Foley, my new found interest in professional wrestling, and my initial academic thoughts on professional wrestling and Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment in particular.
Since that time, I signed up for the WWE Network, the new online-only initiative recently launched by the WWE to serve as their “television network.” With the network, we can watch old matches, including the ECW and WCW shows, and we can watch the live pay-per-view extravaganzas as well as current shows like Main Event and NXT. We haven’t explored too much yet, but we have found it fun to have this huge library of content available.
Now, this post is not a plug for the network. From an academic angle, the existence of the network is interesting, although it may be doing more harm than good for the company at this time. What the presence of the network indicates is another example of what interests me about professional wrestling: the convergent nature of it.
In a nutshell, convergence deals with the issue of how different things come together to produce something new. It is a bit of a buzzword in media studies right now, but there is a reason for it. Convergence means different technologies, practices, ideas coming together and creating something new. For example, your smartphone is an example of a convergent technology: it combines the telephone, the computer, the global positioning system, the television, the music player, and other technologies into one device. By bringing all of these technologies together, a completely new technology is created, and, in being created, impacts how we engage with it. One of the reasons why you have a hard time putting your smartphone down is because it can do so many different things for you; and the reason it does so many different things comes from it having so many different technologies and features of technologies combined into one device.
So, when I say that the interesting thing about the WWE Network is its convergent nature, I mean the network is a product of combining different media technologies into one Internet-based platform. The WWE Network is a 24-hour television network with scheduled programming, and a video-on-demand library of the WWE and more, and a location of live pay-per-view specials that before were purchased from cable providers. The network is available via the Web, mobile apps, and connected device apps such as for our PlayStation 3. While it still has shows on cable networks USA and SyFy, the WWE is gambling on this convergent network as being the future of television — and this gamble is very interesting to this television and new media researcher.
Now, from what I can tell, this is not the only way in which the WWE, in particular, and professional wrestling, in general, can be seen has having a convergent nature. Numerous aspects of the sports entertainment appears to be a combination of different genres, media, practices, realities, identities, and so forth.
Because of the various ways in which the company and the sports entertainment have a convergent nature, I am interested in proposing a panel for the upcoming 2015 Central States Communication Association to present papers on various convergences seen in professional wrestling. Additionally, if there is enough interest in the topic, then I would be happy in putting together a proposal for an anthology taking this type of scholarly approach to professional wrestling.