Wrestling with Bad Writing

This will probably become a regular for me. If you read my article last October about being a huge wrestling mark you know how my obsession started and the interactions wrestling has with my life and writing. At times the wrestling world, particularly WWE, gets my gears all muddied up. They are heavily known to have bad writing and poor booking judgment. What I mean by bad writing is writing that’s not geared for the product or fan base. A writer needs to k now their audience.

For example, the current big push is Roman Reigns, crowned champion with a lack of real fan support. Of course that lack of support didn’t stop the writers or booker to change their approach. I can relate this to writing and having a sagging main character. The supporting characters appear more interesting, more mysterious. When this happens there is a problem. The main character isn’t really the main character. It’s then time to consider rebooting that character or changing the story so that the supporting character is now the main protagonist.

Sometimes in the wrestling world the main protagonist can be saved. Sometimes. But it takes effort to understand what the audience wants and what will work to get them hooked. Writing itself may be, for lack of a better term, simpler than trying to sell millions of fans about an on-going soap opera that this is their guy. Sometimes the answers may be right under their nose.

A huge problem I noticed this past week with wrestling is that they tend to do the opposite of what they should do. A writer throws everything at their protagonist. The table is often stacked against them, the worst possible scenario happens in every instance, and in the end the protagonist either overcomes the obstacles or learns from their mistake. What I’ve noticed about wrestling is that they do this with…their antagonist. Not just any antagonist, but their lower card jobbers. Instead of being bullies, cheats, despicable characters they are cunning, comical, and turn into underdogs. And who doesn’t love an underdog?

Imagine an antagonist in a story that always fails, not only are they always defeated by the protagonist, but they’re defeated by everyone. That antagonist presents no real threat and is essentially not an antagonist at all. In the current story lines heel wrestler (the bad guy) Heath Slater has organized a group of lower card and over looked heels together. Very rarely have these guys won a match. Week one of their newly established Social Outcast group Slater wins his match due to interference from his friends. He cheated and won. Finally. Not exactly an earth shattering antagonist, but it’s a start. Week two the entire group gets taken out by the wrestling world’s resident giant, the Big Show.No one even knows if the Big Show is face or heel.

Once again we’re led to believe that this heel group of wrestlers, four grown men, can’t take out one guy. Albeit that one guy is well over seven feet tall and over four hundred pounds, but just imagine if they did take him out. The Social Outcasts would be a formidable antagonist group, at least on some level.

Of course, the wrestling world is a little bit different. Every wrestler has a story and characteristics. Not every character in a book has a story behind them or demands a spotlight. Essentially most characters in a book are jobbers, something the wrestling world lacks these days. In wrestling’s hay day there were jobbers-a-plenty. The local-no-name-wrestler that was lucky enough to get on the card and be SQUASHED in a match. To the national or world audience that guy was a nobody. The guys getting dragged under the bus weekly today are flushed out characters that just didn’t “catch on”, usually due to bad writing. The best part about bad writing and bad booking in the wrestling world though is one simple phrase that’s become cliche:  “Creative has nothing for you.”

Until next time,