A View Inside European Pro Wrestling
In the world of wrestling, ‘Kayfabe’ is the term for portraying events, relationships and rivalries between opponents as genuine. Photographer Sebastiaan Franco, known from his work on Belgian hooliganism titled De Derde Helft, has been following pro wrestler Rob Eeckhout since 2015 and explores the world of European Pro Wrestling through photography.
Text by Chloë Ramaekers, pictures by Sebastiaan Franco
Professional wrestling became popular in the US in the eighties and in Belgium it was revived in 2003 with the founding of the Flemish Wrestling Force (FWF). Over the next decade multiple other organizations such as the Pro Wrestling Alliance (PWA) were launched. In 2015 Franco contacted Steve Van den Bergh, the founder of the PWA, as part of a school project who in turn put Franco in touch with pro wrestler Rob Eeckhout. Only a few days later Sebastiaan traveled with Rob to one of his shows and has been following the pro athlete on a regular basis on his tour through Europe ever since to capture the events both on and off the stage.
Gradually Franco got intrigued by this project because of the high level of entertainment of pro wrestling: “This is the summit of live entertainment. Pro wrestlers construct their own character and background story after which they train in order to bring this character to life on stage. Rob Eeckhout is, for example, known in the ring as Rob Raw where he forms a tag team with his partner Rex Rage. The characters of pro wrestlers create stories which provide a recurring theme both within one show and throughout multiple shows. It is the athletic tension that exists around these storylines that is so appealing to the audience.”
Pro wrestling is constructed as a performance art where the entertainment is created by the simulation of a combat sport contest. In this process the principle of ‘Kayfabe’ is played out; despite of the athletic factor inherent to the performance the wrestlers remain in character at all times, allowing for the audience’s complete immersion in the constructed story. ‘Kayfabe’ plays a fundamental part in pro wrestling because it breaks the fourth wall and encourages interaction between the wrestlers and their audience, which is essential for the subsequent course of the show.
They are genuinely thrown around. The risk of injury is very real.
“Pro wrestlers can always count on a large number of spectators and Rob has several die-hard fans who are present at each of his shows. They are truly immersed in the storyline of pro wrestling.”This does not, however, mean that these shows are seen as a mere constuct. Pro wrestlers have to put in a lot of physical training and although the stories and characters are set up it is still a highly intense sport. “They are genuinely thrown around. The risk of injury is very real.”
Continuing the theme in his publication De Derde Helft, Sebastiaan Franco’s fascination with the human interaction with identity shows again very clearly in this series of photographs. “Professional wrestling contains a psychological aspect; in the end it comes down to wearing a certain mask.” Franco’s photographs already resulted in the publication of a zine with Rob Raw featured on the cover, drawn by Jeremie Boissevain, but Sebastiaan declares that he is not yet finished with this project and still joins Rob’s tours whenever he finds the time.
All new articles
Discover the new Niveau4 team at Couleur Café 2018In 2016, Couleur Café founded Niveau4: a unique show featuring the most promising rappers from Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia. Upcoming young performers get the chance to go all out on stage for a big crowd. Through Niveau4, the big audience got to know artists who are now at the top of Belgian hip hop charts. We're thinking of Coely, Roméo Elvis, Stikstof, ... This year, the festival presents the third edition of Niveau4 with six up and coming Belhop acts.
Travel to New York through our Instagram takeover by photographer Sacha Claes
The Hasselt-based video- and photographer Sacha Claes brings along his camera wherever he goes. In his portfolio you’ll find colourful pictures he took on various trips. For his Instagram takeover he shared 7 shots he took in New York City. Past winter he paid a memorable visit to the Big Apple. Discover more about Sacha and his trip to the most notorious city in his takeover.
Fire is Gold festival’s new unisex hoodies collectionThe new unisex hoodie collection of the music, sports and fashion festival Fire is Gold is here, and it’s lit. Literally. The overall color/theme is yellow, the color of flames (and probably closest to gold) and the FiG logo all over the sleeves. The sweaters come in black too if yellow isn't your thing.
Desperados DIY Sound Stage with KiNK
We know Desperados as the world’s first Tequila Flavoured Beer. Many of us sip a couple of chilled Desperados during hot summer nights or maybe at a club with friends. It doesn’t matter where you drink it, with Desperados you can turn any place into a party. With that sprit in mind, the beer brand invited up to 300 party people to an old sugar factory in Amsterdam.
Meet 21-year old producer Messoins, the brain behind YouTube series #JourneyOfABeatMusic and storytelling: its a match made in heaven for Arsène Rurangiza aka music producer and composer Messoins. He makes the art of producing beats look easy in his YouTube series Journey of a Beat. Messoins takes his viewers on a musical journey during which he explains step-by-step how he produced a certain beat. The digital music composer takes his beatmaking videos to the next level by inviting artists for each session. They write lyrics to his beats and perform the song live at the end of the video. Messoins manges to compress this whole process into easy-to-watch 5-minute videos.
5 New Belgian Hip-Hop Tracks You Should Check OutWe’re back with your weekly update of new Belgian hip-hop tracks. This week we’re presenting debut singles from 3C1P and MVNSI, some funky beats by JTOTHEC and Kunde. And to top off: another release from the notorious Brussels hip-hop duo Caballero & JeanJass featuring their pal Roméo Elvis
Relaas x Enchanté: een Gentse verhalenavond voor en door kansarmen
Een kop koffie, een fris glas cola of gezellig uit eten gaan; het lijken evidenties, maar zijn dat bijlange niet voor iedereen. In Vlaanderen zijn er heel wat mensen die niet kunnen delen in onze comforten zoals knusse koffiebars en hippe restaurants. De twee Gentse non-profit organisaties Relaas en Enchanté slaan de handen in elkaar om mensen die er nood aan hebben bij te staan.
5 things you didn’t know about Cardi BThere’s a lot to tell when it comes to Cardi B. In 2017 she, seemly out of nowhere, exploded as one of the most prominent voices in the female rapper scene. She’s known for her extraordinary personality and not holding anything back. Ever since the 'Bodak Yellow' singer topped the charts, the rap queen is engraved in our collective memory.
Illustrator/sneaker collector Jonas Cozone took over our Instagram page last week
Jonas Cozone (pronounced as Coz-1) is a Belgian all-round creative. He is an illustrator, vintage sportswear collector and beat producer. Cozone made hip hop beats for well-known names in the Dutch music scene (Safi & Spreej, Kleine Ben en King B) and released several beat tapes on Bandcamp. Some items of his vintage sportswear collection are displayed on his Instagram page. It's clear he is very passionate about sneakers, Nike Air Max in particular.
6 New Belgian hip-hop tracks to check out
This weeks batch of new Belgian hip-hop tracks is a varied one; we got something for everyone this week. Crazy trap flows, epic productions, groovy vibes and lyrics in Dutch, French and English. New music by Moka Boka, Phasm & Krimi, IAMGUNZ, Ryan Eiffel, Shaka Shams, Krapuul and Redbull Beckvechten champ Tloc!