An international team of physicists conceded in a study published yesterday that they’re baffled by the strange elastic behavior of wrestling ring ropes.
“It appears that ring ropes possess some heretofore unknown type of elasticity, given the unprecedented rebound forces they exhibit,” explained Prof. Edmond Fung of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a co-author of the paper.
“We simply do not understand why an Irish whip to the ropes causes a wrestler to rebound with equal, and often greater, force than can be predicted mathematically.”
Fung explained that ring ropes — taut steel cable wrapped in colored tape — should absorb much of a wrestler’s momentum, thereby causing relatively little “bounceback.”
“But what we’re seeing is the opposite,” Fung says. “When thrown to the ropes, wrestlers seem to gain momentum — as if they’re powerless to resist the forces propelling them. It’s almost cartoon-like. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.”
The “bounceback effect” is just one of many puzzling attributes of ring ropes to have vexed the physics community.
“We don’t yet understand why Andre the Giant got his arms tied-up in the ropes so frequently, or why he had such difficulty freeing himself,” said Fung.
Fung continued: “Nor do we comprehend how bouncing off the ropes somehow increases the effectiveness of the People’s Elbow, the Five-Knuckle Shuffle or other such moves. What advantage does the Undertaker gain from walking along the top rope like a highwire act, as opposed to simply leaping from the turnbuckle? We just don’t know.”
The research team plans to continue working on the question of ring rope elasticity, and even tackle the most perplexing phenomenon: the “criss-cross” move, in which two wrestlers run in perpendicular directions across the breadth of the ring, bouncing off the ropes several times each for no apparent reason.
“It just makes no sense,” said Fung. “The math does not add up.”