Kayfabe, Smartdom and Marking Out: Can Pro-Wrestling Help Us Understand Donald Trump?

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Donald Trump has enjoyed a nearly 30-year relationship with World Wrestling Entertainment as a business partner, fan, in-ring performer and 2013 Hall of Fame Inductee. Noting this long running involvement, it has become a widespread contention that Trump’s style as a political campaigner owes a debt to his experiences within the world of professional wrestling. Taking such claims seriously, this article argues that an engagement with concepts developed within professional wrestling studies would benefit political studies by offering new analytical approaches for the study of the political phenomenon that is Donald Trump. Providing a brief introduction to professional wrestling studies, this article outlines how the concepts of kayfabe, smart fandom and marking out help address a key question for political scholars: how to explain a cynical American electorate’s engagement with and emotional investment in the campaign of such an obvious political fraudster.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-61
Number of pages15
JournalPolitical Studies Review
Issue number1
Early online date4 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Donald Trump
  • US Politics
  • professional wrestling
  • ideology
  • political campaigning
  • pro-wrestling
  • US presidents


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