AN ONLINE WORK IS STILL WORK: VIRTUAL LABORS OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLERS
Keywords:professional wrestling, neoliberal, fans, gender, race
The COVID pandemic’s impact on professional wrestling has come in many forms. Like other forms of sports and entertainment, professional wrestling is very dependent on physical interactions to produce content. So, what happens when wrestlers, who work as independent contractors, cannot engage in such physical labor? Fortunately, many had already been utilizing existing social media platforms as additional sources of income to supplement what they receive from their wrestling, trading on their characters and brands under neoliberal approaches to revenue generation. Their online work often aligns with their physical work, as the actual wrestling they perform is only a small fraction of their revenue-generating labor. From selling merchandise to selling themselves, the panel explores how professional wrestling uses these technologies to further their physical businesses and practices. The panel will critically explore these online activities to understand how such technologies mediate the relationship between promotions, wrestlers, and fans while also reflecting late-stage capitalist and neoliberal ideological perspectives on the Internet. This panel considers how these independent contractors have turned to neoliberal platforms and practices, even before the pandemic, to maintain a living, and the extent to which what they have done to survive operates as a template for more people in post-industrial societies operating under similar conditions.