If you checked out my last blog post, you know that I am currently conducting an auto-ethnographic project on ‘puroresu’, otherwise known as professional wrestling in Japan. In that last post, I discussed the rise of professional wrestling in Japan, with a focus on the company ‘New Japan Pro Wrestling’. Since that post, I have completed more research, and live-tweeted another match, but more importantly, have begun to understand how my topic in reference to my own cultural framework, and the background of knowledge, or personal framework, that already exists.
As acknowledged in my previous post, I went into this project having very limited knowledge on the professional wrestling landscape in Japan. That said, growing up as male who was very much a fan of different sports, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I was once a huge fan of wrestling professional in America. As such, I am not completely separate from the project. There is a pre-existing base of knowledge surrounding the field site, it just exists for promotions on the other side of the world. However, I understood from the very start of this project that while there were similarities between the professional wrestling in America, and Japan, as many have noted, there are significant differences.
From the fan’s reaction, to the in ring action, professional wrestling in Japan is seen, and observed, for its wrestling, as opposed to potentially the story and drama existing in the western promotions. New Japan Pro Wrestling is a wrestling promotion, and they are direct and honest about this, and there is a “variation in cultural value attached to the spectacles (MacFarlane, 2012)”, especially in relation to the audiences, and why it has peaked in popularity over the last number of years. Having already live-tweeted two matches, the way in which the audience reacts is a cultural variation that came as a complete surprise. I expected, using my cultural framework, that the audience would be similar to that of it’s Western counterpart, and that would include numerous chants throughout the night. That simply wasn’t there throughout these matches. As such, I found myself seeking out literature that explained how, and why the audience reacted in such a way. In a book written by current professional wrestling Chris Jericho, he stated how “Japanese fans appreciated the actual art form of wrestling – they study the matches instead of just watching them (Jericho and Fornatale, 2014)”. He’s also stated how the fans in Japan “respected the art of wrestling (Jericho and Fornatale, 2014)”.
My own personal framework prepared me for the similarities. The rules of the match and how the product is presented shares similarities with the western promotions. It’s the differences that I am choosing to investigate, as many are linked directly with the culture of Japan. Through this project, I want to gain a thorough understanding on professional wrestling in the East, and how this differs from what I’ve learnt through my previous personal framework. Not only that though, I hope gain further learning about the popularity of the New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion. To understand this, it is imperative to delve further into this variation in culture, with the aid of further research, including what I have already currently found, and hopefully, more in the upcoming weeks. This is due to “autoethnographers being expected to treat their autobiographical data with critical, analytical, and interpretive eyes to detect cultural undertones of what is recalled (Chang, 2017 )”.
This methodology, of collecting data from the live-tweets, as well as the research associated with the investigation is known as layered accounts, due to this type of autoethnography often “focusing on the author’s experience alongside data, abstract analysis, and relevant literature (Ellis et al 2011)”. This essentially means that I am currently, and will continue to, completely dive into the world of professional wrestling in Japan, collecting data through the live-tweets, and collecting literature associated with the rising popularity of this field site.
Chang, H 2007. Autoethnography as Method Subtitle: Raising Cultural Consciousness of Self and Others, in G Walford (ed.), Methodological developments in ethnography Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 207-221. Available at: http://www.academia.edu/1244871/Autoethnography_as_method
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095
Jericho, C. and Fornatale, P. (2014). A Lion’s Tale. New York: Grand Central Publishing, p. 288, 354.
MacFarlane, The University of South Australia, K. (1) “A Sport, A Tradition, A Religion, A Joke: The Need for a Poetics of In-ring Storytelling and a Reclamation of Professional Wrestling as a Global Art”, Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 6(2), pp. 136-155. Available at: http://journals.iium.edu.my/asiatic/index.php/AJELL/article/view/265