What is your area of study/research?
I am an Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Tusculum University in Greeneville, Tennessee. My research interests primarily center around organizational and consumer behavior in combat sports, along with the globalization and labor economics of combat sports.
What led to your interest in pro wrestling and how do you approach pro wrestling from your scholarly discipline?
I am a lifelong fan of professional wrestling. As a child in the 1990s, I got into the product at the height of the Monday Night Wars and spent every Monday flipping the channel between WWF and WCW. Since then, my interest and love for the sport has expanded to its history not just in North America, but across the world. When I started my PhD work, I began to realize the various intersections that professional wrestling has with society and broader issues. These intersections provide fascinating opportunity for inquiry into the sport.
I enjoy observing the interactions of producers and consumers of professional wrestling in spaces such as social media to gain an understanding of how, in unison, these two groups envision and produce the sport. Professional wrestling is unique in that its production as a sport can literally tell any story and have any outcome its producer wants it to have. This production is often the byproduct of things going on in the world around us, and that is, in my opinion, extremely exciting to explore.
Are you currently working on any pro wrestling scholarship/research/public scholarship/media? Please tell us about it!
A colleague and I are currently exploring the implications of how professional wrestling producers’ social media is used to market professional wrestling, and how consumer reaction to that marketing either potentially reinforces or shifts the production of professional wrestling.
I am also working on expanding on some topics that I originally explored within my dissertation work on how du Gay, Hall, James, Mackay, & Negus (1997)’s circuit of culture applies to the production and consumption of professional wrestling
Do you bring pro wrestling into any of the classes you teach or research hubs that you work in? How do you find it is received or taken up?
I was excited to attend WrestlePosium III this past spring, and I look forward to bringing professional wrestling into more academic conference spaces. I will be presenting on social media marketing of professional wrestling at the Sport Marketing Association’s annual conference in Charlotte, NC this upcoming October.
I always enjoy talking with others about my research interests and the initial reactions of “pro wrestling, really?”, shifting to understanding why it is quite an interesting and fruitful space for research.
What is a piece of pro wrestling scholarship (article/book/chapter) that has been generative for you that you recommend PWSA members read?
This is a tough question! There is some fantastic work being done in this space. One piece that observes the emergence of the jargon of professional wrestling and how it has evolved from being used just by those ‘within the industry’ to wrestling fans alike is Marion Wrenn’s chapter in Practicing Culture (2007). To me this chapter really illustrates the emergence of the informed fan of professional wrestling. I believe that this piece, despite being written 15 years ago, is especially prevalent in today’s professional wrestling, where many fans of the sport are not just interested in the product on their TV screens, but also its behind the scenes happenings.