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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Study attacks Raw content

By DAVID BAUDER -- AP Television Writer

 NEW YORK -- A popular two-hour wrestling show on cable television averages only 36 minutes of actual wrestling -- leaving plenty of time for crotch grabbing, obscene gestures and simulated sexual activity, according to a study.

A detailed Indiana University study of 50 "WWF Raw" episodes last year on the USA network turned up a staggering amount of profane or risque incidents.

For instance, researchers counted 1,658 instances of a character grabbing or pointing to their own crotch -- or roughly eight every half hour, not counting slow-motion instant replays.

"I could see where an adult would be very concerned with the frequency at which these behaviors were aired, particularly at this time of day," said Walter Gantz, professor at Indiana's Department of Telecommunications.

For the past year, wrestling programs on USA or TNT have consistently been among the highest-rated shows each week on basic cable. But they're far from the goofy fun of the old days.

The syndicated news show "Inside Edition" commissioned the Indiana University study for a two-part report airing this week. Reporter Matt Meagher said he became interested in looking at wrestling when his wife, a middle school teacher, told him about her students imitating the behavior seen on the shows.

Researchers counted 157 instances of wrestlers or audience members making an obscene gesture and 434 times when people either said a sexually charged slogan or displayed one on a sign.

There were 128 episodes of simulated sexual activity and 47 references to Satanic activity. One segment featured people supposedly draining blood from a "dead" wrestler and drinking it, Gantz said.

There were also 609 instances of wrestlers or other being struck by objects like garbage cans or nightsticks.

"Somehow they managed not to hurt each other," Gantz said. "I'm not certain that a 10-year-old realizes that they are skilled at doing this."

Jim Byrne, senior vice president of marketing for the World Wrestling Federation, said they were "responsible broadcasters." WWF places a parental warning on "WWF Raw" and provides calmer programs during hours when children are more likely to watch, he said.

"WWF Raw" has plots like those in "NYPD Blue" and "Beverly Hills 90210," he said.

"The fans are tuning in for the story lines and the fact that we are somewhat edgy makes it more attractive," he said.

A USA network representative had no immediate comment on the study.