Are darts and pro-wrestling basically the same thing?

Posted on March 17, 2012 by

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There’s a piece currently up on the Vice blog by friend of the website (and by that I mean some guy I’ve never met who follows me on Twitter that I can’t remember if I follow back) Clive Martin, dealing with a topic that Playing Ricky Morton has focused on a few times in the past: the similarities and differences between the world of professional darts and the world of professional wrestling. And if there’s water in the well, keep returning to it. So here’s some more writing on the topic.

One thing the article skirts around, surprisingly for Vice, is one of the hidden secrets of darts: it’s very subtly marketed as the last great white sport. In the same way that NASCAR is seen as the last bastion of Aryan supremacy in America, so darts is in the UK. Even the non-British nations that take darts seriously (Netherlands, Canada, Australia) are all EDL-friendly. DartsDatabase.com has the half-Indonesian Jelle Klaasen, who it ranks at #95, as the only non-white player in the world top 100. And that’s a guy whose walk-on music is “Sex on Fire”, so his cracker genes are clearly dominant.

But what does this have to do with professional wrestling, a pastime that would never be so tawdry as to exploit racial tensions in order to create emotional response? Well… the racial elements behind darts give everything an NWA (as in Sam Muchnick, not MC Ren) feel. And so yeah, darts is the new wrestling. But it’s the new wrestling of 1984. Let me explain with a tortured analogy.

Darts and wrestling both had an initial boom period long before their second, larger, boom. Wrestling had Gorgeous George being one of America’s most famous men in the 1950s, darts bestrode the 1980s with Bullseye and that Scottish dude who took a shit in his opponent’s shoes. And then there was, if not a fallow period, then at least a period of lesser importance for both. And all that change when one man (Vince McMahon/Barry Hearn) found his new franchise player (Hulk Hogan/Phil Taylor) and had one brave idea he was prepared to pour lots of money into (Wrestlemania/darts as spectacle).

Some guys (the territories/BDO) were left behind and look distinctly archaic compared to the razzmatazz of the upstart promotion. The old school had their fans, but they were clearly fighting a losing battle against the changes elsewhere. One by one, competitors from the old territories, big names, upped sticks and moved to become jobbers in the new big league: Jim Duggan became “Hacksaw”, The Sheepherders became “The Bushwackers”. We await Ted Hankey’s new nickname eagerly as he sinks to a 7-2 loss to Dave Chisnall on a wet Tuesday in Brackley.

And we can keep on with these comparisons. Andre the Giant as Raymond van Barneveld, the man who had the great rivalry with the franchise player and then his body just went. Randy Savage as Adrian “Jackpot” Lewis. Gorilla Monsoon as Sid Waddell. Special Delivery Jones as James Wade. Assorted Chicago Bears players grinning gormlessly in the front row, assorted Manchester City players grinning inanely in the front seats.

Also, darts and professional wrestling, as inherently white working class pastimes, reflect a lot of anxieties felt by white heterosexual C2DE males. It’s where a lot of the camp that inhabits both comes from, this isn’t the safe cuddly camp of Graham Norton listlessly reading out a series of pre-prepared comments about the Slovakian host’s dress, it’s the angry, aggressive camp of a drag queen doing a routine in a spit and sawdust working men’s club. It’s very liberating, whether that’s “Adorable” Adrian Street doing a genderbending sexually deviant Welsh miner gimmick or Steve Beaton being the walking definition of “time to question your sexuality”.

So the article is right on that level, darts and wrestling are both personality-based affairs but both have their “heritage” sides, the BDO and the NWA territories of the 80s, that see themselves as being above all of this. And then push comes to shove, they suddenly realize that no, no they aren’t, and you end up with Jake Millman trying to grab a turkey off the top of a pole, or some random Dutch player calling himself “Mr Coat” because he’s wearing a coat.

Anyway, the only real way to end an article like this is with a picture of a “sexy darts player” costume I found on some cheap-ass lingerie website:

Fantastic.

 

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