11:05-11:55: That Was Both Predictable and Yet Surprising: Research on pro wrestling, Trump, and presidential politics in 2020-2021

David Beard is Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Minnesota Duluth.  In professional wrestling studies, he has written, with John Heppen:  “Donald Trump, Professional Wrestling, and the Electoral Geography of Vengeance and Redemption,” in Political Landscapes in the Age of Donald Trump; “Independent Professional Wrestling as Crucible for Research into Masculinity,” in Popular Culture Studies Journal;  “The Wrestling Ring as Stage for the Most Popular Form  of American Theater,” in Iconic Sports Venues: Persuasion in Public Spaces; and a review of Barthes’ What Is Sport in the Professional Wrestling Studies Journal.  

John Heppen is a Geography Professor at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. They have a piece in Political Landscapes of Donald Trump (Routledge).

Shannon Bow O’Brien, Assistant Professor of Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin, recently published Donald Trump and the Kayfabe Presidency: Professional Wrestling Rhetoric in the White House (Palgrave Macmillan).

David Moon is Senior Lecturer in Politics in the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies at the University of Bath. He is the author of “Kayfabe, Smartdom and Marking Out: Can Pro-Wrestling Help Us Understand Donald Trump?” in Political Studies Review, and “The Role of Cultural Production in Celebrity Politics: Comparing the Campaigns of Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura,” and “Donald Trump” in Politics.

The Presidency of Donald Trump has transformed much of our understanding of how American politics works.  His use of Twitter has transformed the relationship between the media, the office of the President, and the public.  His use of acting political appointments has transformed the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government.  And, since November 3rd, he has transformed our sense of how a candidate who has won fewer electoral votes responds to their loss. 


On this panel, four scholars who have published on the dynamics of Trump’s presidency in light of professional wrestling will bring us all “up to date” with the 2020 election, 2021 Capitol uprising, and 2021 inauguration.  Can a president have a “finishing move”?

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