It's closest cousin is the theatre, in which people pay to lose themselves in a story which is played out right in front of them. And that is what I value most, being able to lose myself and watch a story play out, letting my emotions free, not knowing what's going to happen next.
One problem wrestling faces in the west is that people feel a sense of being lied to and I'll explain why. Wrestling's origins are in the circus' at the turn of the century, and when matches took place, they were designed to make people believe the two men weren't performing, but that they actually wanted to hurt each other. Over the next century, wrestling promoters and organizations kept that up, with the goal being to have people become so lost in the illusion that they can't tell that what they are seeing is in fact not really happening. Sort of like a magic trick. Wrestling matches weren't the crazy over-the-top spectacles that we see today, they were all about creating the story through looking as real as possible. But as wrestling became more flamboyant in the 1980's, it became obvious that it was a show, and alot of people think that wrestling tries to present itself as a competitive sport, when in fact that idea was gone two decades ago. The only people that think wrestling is a sport are the children that watch WWE. Kids also believe in Santa Clause, but we don't condemn the adults that still celebrate christmas. Yes, wrestling is like the theatre with the illusion of reality, but it is not 'fake', which is the default word to describe wrestling in the western world. The endings are predetermined, and big spots in the match are devised, worked out and talked through by the wrestlers beforehand, but the wrestlers are hurting themselves every time they have a match so 'fake' is a word that doesn't sit well with wrestling fans because we feel it shows disrespect or ignorance.
A wrestling fan doesn't just like any wrestling match just because it's available. For as many great exciting fights as there are out there, there can also be poor quality matches that bore you to death, and this is what the majority of society witnesses when they turn on the television to find two steroid induced giants throwing each other around. These wrestlers are the equivalent of Ja Rule, Britney Spears or the new Michael Bay movie. Their matches are bloated, over-produced and the easiest thing to sell to kids (and therefore the advertisers). And that's what WWE (formerly WWF) is about: making money. And that is why the wrestlers in WWE are there, because of the huge pay-days. It's the same reason any hack singer, comedian or actor does a bad album, sitcom or movie. And it's sad, because there are the other 99% of wrestlers around the world who are looked down upon by the public just because in the 1980's someone found a way to market wrestling to children.