Aug 10 2015 3:30pm

Wrestling and Romance Novels: Black Moments, Hope Spots, and Heels (Both Kinds)

All That We See by Mary Beth Bass

Today we're thrilled to have Mary Beth Bass on Heroes and Heartbreakers. Mary Beth writes Young Adult fantasy romance and her latest release All That We See, came out at the beginning of July. Mary Beth, like many people, has a wide array of interests—including romance novels...and wrestling! While you wouldn't necessarily think romance and wrestling had a lot in common, Mary Beth is here today to make her case on how they do. Thanks, Mary Beth!

Before I fell in love with professional wrestling, the only sporting event I would have considered attending was Quidditch. If your response to this is something about wrestling being “fake” please post a video of yourself lifting an adult over your head and throwing him or her to the ground without seriously injuring anyone. 50 times. And, if you have a problem with Quidditch you’re dead to me.

“Fake” in wrestling is like the bodice ripper in romance, or the smarmy question posed at least once to every romance novelist, When are you going to write a real book? As if a carefully choreographed fight between athletes at the top of their game is somehow not real because the end is predetermined. Or that the emotionally satisfying ending for the protagonists in a romance novel makes it a fake book. Like that’s a thing.

The first thing I noticed about wrestling was the fighting-dancer athleticism. The second thing I noticed was the shoes. Wrestlers – men and women – are athletes in character and costumes are part of the way their stories are told. Heroic characters, called babyfaces or just faces, and bad guys, called heels, wear costumes that reflect their storylines. And like a movie villain who gets the best lines, heels rock the killer costumes. A heel I saw wrestle this year entered the ring with hard, fast music and an air of violent anger. He was wearing knee-high, lace-up bright yellow patent leather boots. He fought like a lion. Lost. And left the ring in a fury.

Okay, I’m cheating a little here. I know there are romance novels with amazing shoes, but I’m not a shoe person in real life. I have two pairs of shoes, excluding my hiking books. I’m not really a clothes person either but I love reading about clothes. In The Dressmaker's Duke by Jess Russell a brilliantly engineered single ribbon holds together a magnificent gown. The removal of said ribbon creates one of the sexiest scenes I’ve ever read.

Wrestling and romance both have huge, devoted fan bases emotionally invested in what happens to their favorite heroes and heroines. It’s all about the story. 

It’s nearly the end of the night. The crowd has thinned a bit; the remaining fans are restless. The lights are harsh and ugly. We’re waiting for the reigning heavyweight champion to strut out, jump into the ring and tease his opponent—and the fans—with easy-seeming moves. At first he won’t even break a sweat. And then seamlessly the energy will shift and this beautiful athlete with vintage David Lee Roth hair and rock star charisma will leap into the air and very likely decimate his opponent. I know this, the other fans know this. It’s why we’re here. It’s what we’re waiting for. But it’s late, and we’re restless. Some fans are wandering around getting sodas, buying merchandise. I’m thinking about how long it will take me to drove home. The announcer gets into the ring with a few wrestlers to talk about upcoming shows. Then…

The lights go off so loudly it sounds like a transformer blew out. For a second no one knows what’s going on. It’s almost completely dark. I’m a little worried someone might get hurt. A side door smashes open and all eyes turn to a figure shrouded in a hooded cape and framed by open doors and the watery light of the parking lot. He’s got a huge stick in his hand. He is angry. He is menacing. He is hell-bent on vengeance. No one expected him, the former heavyweight champion, to show his face again after he lost his title and the support of his fans a few weeks earlier. He rushes into the ring, screaming at the fans, at the announcer, at the other wrestlers. The fans scream back. It feels like chaos. It feels real. He announces his solo return. No longer a good guy with an army of devoted supporters now he’s an Army of One and he won’t stop.  All I can think of is Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters. And Elizabeth Hoyt’s Avenging Angel/Demon, the Ghost of St. Giles from her Maiden Lane series.

Almost everyone I’ve ever met in wrestling and in Romancelandia is nice. Maybe it's because these are industries with hard-working people who love what they do and feel lucky to be able to do it. Maybe they’re happy because they get to explore all kinds of aspects of humanity through physicality, stories and emotions. 

Romance novelists support one another through networking and advocacy. We cheer each other on and console each other. We contribute our time and our books to charitable causes. At nearly every wrestling show I’ve ever been to, Happy Birthday is sung to a fan, often a kid. At one show, the heavyweight champion brought a 10-year-old girl into the ring to sing her happy birthday because she’d been to every one of his shows.

And if that wasn't sweet enough, I’ll leave you with this.


Learn more about or order a copy of All That We See by Mary Beth Bass, out now: 

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Mary Beth Bass is a mad lover of 19th century poetry, 21st century punk rock, and the author of science fiction and fantasy romance novels, including ALL THE WE SEE. A recent wrestling devotee, she loves Northeast Wrestling stars: The Battle Brothers, War Beard, Brian Anthony, and The Enforcer Big Jym Anderson, although she still closes her eyes if it seems like someone’s going to get hurt.

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Debbie Christiana
1. Debbie Christiana
Great post, Mary Beth. Love the comparison between the two, and you're so right, as I'm a wrestling fan too :)
Debbie Christiana
2. marybethbass
Thanks so much Debbie! :)
Jennifer Proffitt
3. JenniferProffitt
You really hit the nail on the head--after all, so much of the wrestling story lines have to deal with love and family so it makes sense!

To throw out a wrestling romance, I have ALWAYS loved Pat White's Ringside Romance series featuring wrestling heroes and heroines. It directly influenced my current love of MMA books by Sarah Castille, Lori Foster, and others. Can't resist it!
Debbie Christiana
4. rebeccasarah
This was so great and totally inspired me to watch wrestling.
Debbie Christiana
5. marybethbass
Thanks, Jennifer! You're so right about the love and family part.

And now I have to add those wrestling and MMA books to my TBR pile. #romancenovellove #thestruggleisreal
Debbie Christiana
6. marybethbass
Awesome, RebeccaSarah! Check back in and tell me what you think! :)
Debbie Christiana
7. Jess Russell
Mary Beth, I have never watched wrestling (other than when flipping through the channels) but I will now--if only just for the shoes! And the costumes! And the drama! And the happy ending! Who knew? I thought a heel was just an instrument of torture you wore on your feet! Thanks so much for the shout out. Can't wait to read, All That We See!
Debbie Christiana
8. marybethbass
Thanks, Jess! I love THE DRESSMAKER'S DUKE!
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