Hulk Hogan took from us Gawker, but his generation will gives us in return their greatest achievement to date. The visual and aesthetic culture of the Golden Era of Wrestling is about to make a glorious return to everyday life, and if you want to be ahead of the trend, it’s time to start unpacking that blonde hair dye and neon leotard.
The Golden Era of Wrestling
The so-called Golden Era of Wrestling refers to the hey-day of World Wrestling Federation megastars the likes of Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage (pictured above), André the Giant, and, Mr. America himself, Hulk Hogan. Unlike the subsequent trend of the 1990s, which propelled now-household names such as John Cena and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to fame, the Golden Era had a great sense of style. Afterwards, wrestling was forever marked by attitudes rather than extreme character performances (honourable mention: The Undertaker), and saw a stylistic shift from glam-rocker-on-steroids to Limp-Bizkit-music-video-extra.
Wrestling never bounced back to its late 1980s peak, as the post-Cold War world order demanded less body slamming of Bolsheviks and more in-fighting. Much like 1990s America. However, its aesthetic influences survived well beyond the 1990s, most notably through Dog the Bounty Hunter and, apparently, Scandinavians.
‘Spornosexuality’ and the Impending Comeback
The term ‘spornosexual’ first made headlines in 2014 as the substitution for the male ‘metrosexuals’ of the 2000s (think European soccer players such as David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo). A metrosexual was characterised as a young urban male with a high affinity for vanity and consumerism, i.e., fashion and beauty products. Spornosexual males, according to the Telegraph article, are literally a beefed up versions of metrosexuals. They represent not only consumerism, but the extreme modern world of social media, perfectionism and pornography.
Spornosexuality is related to the swole-acceptance movement, which has bred an environment where being built like a CGI gorilla no longer bars you from most office jobs. 16 or more years ago, weightlifting was indeed reserved for wrestlers and a handful of enthusiasts. Today, more than half of all Americans own a gym membership.
Now, consider modern fashion trends. One day, the true samurai may reclaim the man-bun from its offensive state of cultural appropriation from tattooed dishwashers. Guess what all these weightlifting dudes will look like once their sides grow out? Like wrestlers. Anyone who has spent time in a gym will have noticed the presence of men in string-tops more dish rag with suspenders than actual shirt. The combination of the two has fertilised the ground for the coming resurgence.
The Coinciding ‘Vaporwave’ Trend Will Create the Perfect Storm
So far, the developments indicate that all dudes will soon be jacked and we will live in 300-style Sparta. However, this is a case for old school wrestling aesthetics. Therefore, another factor that will predate its return has been the rapid rise of the ‘Vaporwave’ genre in recent years. At the its pinnacle are films like Drive (music, cars, clothes) and popular series such as True Detective (pagers, 90s suits and haircuts) and Moonbeam City (everything), to name a few. In other words, vaporwave is the appreciation for 1980-2005 visuals, style and culture.
The final argument to consider involves the 2016 Presidential Election – and by that I don’t mean some snarky comment on the Republican Wrestlemania of a Primary season. Instead, what many voters may not realise, is that the United States is extremely close to electing its first wrestling President, Donald J. Trump:
By now, it should be obvious that we are closer to a major cultural and visual shift than expected. Wrestling aesthetics did not become a fashion trend in the 1980s or 1990s simply for the fact that not enough people cared about lifting heavy stuff. Additionally, an overly large body frame has remained somewhat stigmatised until recently. It’s possible to be too far ahead of a trend and the example of Dog the Bounty Hunter is a perfect case in point. This changed during the 2000s. However, due to the athletic careers of its main proponents, body frames where kept relatively lean. Today, the perfect storm of millions of people squatting loaded barbells on Instagram, the popularity of retro visual culture, and the potential election of Donald Trump, strongly indicates a glorious come back. Remember, you read it here first.