The Wrestling Connoisseur: The Novel Wrestling Season
The Wrestling Connoisseur: The Novel Wrestling Season
Every wrestling company has toted their BIG pay per view. For WWE it has always been Wrestlemania. For WCW it was The Great American Bash. New Japan has the Tokyo Dome show, aka Wrestle Kingdom. The list goes on and on from the tip top promotion to the bottom feeders in local communities. These big pay per views denote something special about the promotion. It’s not just THEE pay per view of the year, it also is the end of the season. Wrestling runs year round and often establish new stories and characters for the next season. WWE introduced a Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, the Vaudevillains, Anderson & Gallows, and many more this season. They hold off injury returns until the new season as well. Especially for the “big” RAW after Wrestlemania.
It is much like a novel series. Every season marks a new entry into the series. But this concept only started after the death of the territory days. The territories were the hallmark of wrestling. Big names would bounce around different regions and move on to keep things fresh and exciting. Younger wrestlers could hone their skills working with a plethora of older talent. When WWE, then WWF, came under the control of Vince, Jr., it began to scoop up all the bigger named talent and brought wrestling to national television. It was the equivalent of online sales killing the bookstore.
The effects of killing off the territories and the eventual performance training WWE does now with NXT, the former FCW, Deep South, and the use of farm feds like OVW, is that now there is a group of young wrestlers that aren’t interacting with a large group of veterans on a nightly basis. NXT has gone far in fixing that idea by hiring known veteran talent, but for the most part in the farm fed existence these wrestlers have spent years trying to earn their way onto the main roster, often set up for failure by their lack of experience.
The yearly program starts off with new faces among the old. There’s a push to get young talent over to keep the product alive. It’s a spitball production. Maybe one of the ten guys they bring up will be a success, and, if they’re lucky, a major success. The problem with the immediate push today, versus yesteryear, is that it is at the sacrifice of someone else. Years ago wrestling used jobbers better. These guys always lost. I’m not talking about Zack Ryder’s occasional appearance or Tyler Breeze’s current position. Long ago there were guys like Jim Powers and Paul Roma that jobbed weekly. These were guys WWE employed to lose to their stars, mere steps above the local stars thrown bones to lose. These guys were fodder, like Red Shirts or Storm Troopers. The big debuts sacrificed midcarders and often fail within weeks to months. Soon they become part of that sacrifice schedule. Perhaps even to that mid carder they steam rolled. Remember Bo Dallas’s winning streak? Yeah me neither, R Truth.
WWE brings up new wrestlers like George RR Martin introduces characters. Both usually meet the same demise. Over the season’s fifty-two chapters many wrestlers are knocked down to jobber status or regulated back to NXT, or killed off WWE TV for good. Creative has nothing for you. Unlike George RR Martin killing a character off to keep things fresh or move the story forward-a huge trick if you’re stuck writing, just kill someone, WWE does it because they’ve failed to get someone over. I know what you’re thinking. Roman Reigns isn’t over. But they want him to be. Just imagine though if they did kill off Reigns, just like in the territory days, and sent off so that another territory can use them. (Sorry TNA)
These fifty-two chaptered seasons are wrought with new plots and sub plots. The larger plot is the main event scene. This past year has been Roman Reigns rise to the top and the adversity he’s faced. All the other feuds were sub plots. Some subplots, like Dean Ambrose going after the world title, tied directly to the over all plot. The problem is often injuries occur. Reigns has been cut short a few times by injuries. His first injury ruined any chances of getting over in an organic style anytime soon. The concurrent return and forced push down fans throats turned them against him. His nose injury killed any relevant storyline going into Wrestlemania to make anyone care.
In novels adversity endears the protagonist to the audience. In wrestling, the injury adversity kills the character’s momentum. Would Ted Stark’s death have meant anything if he was off air with a broken leg for a quarter of the season? Out of sight, out of mind. John Cena and Seth Rollins injuries make them irrelevent currently. We know they’ll be back. Poor Ted Stark won’t be. Probably. But other characters come and go. Some ride off into the void for a moment only to come back important later on. WWE does this somewhat with their midcard, often due to injuries. Unfortunately, seldom used mid and low carders are only relevant to main programming if the audience watches all programming.
Unlike novels in a series, the American wrestling season never ends. The climax of Wrestlemania isn’t even given time to be thought about and aired out before twenty four hours later the biggest RAW of the year comes on. Twenty-four seven, three-hundred and sixty five days a year. Non stop. Not every wrestling organization on Earth is like this. Japan wrestles in blocks with months off between. Wrestling tours. The cons of a year long season is over exposure. Yes, the exposure that territories avoided by sending wrestlers on to another area. The high level of injuries are a result of a year long work of wrestling several days a week, working out everyday, and not getting enough down time to rest the body.
There’s no easy answer to meet the supply and demand of professional wrestling. Unlike novels, the powers that be are more like publishers than novelists. There’s no amount of waiting time like between books, whether one year or several years in the wrestling world. The publishing house churns out novels, hit or miss, just like those called up wrestlers from NXT, hoping to break that glass ceilling of New York Best Sellers. And the wrestlers being called up are just hoping to one day quote Mick Foley in front of cram-packed arenas, after a long thriving career, maybe even on the verge of retirement, announcing themselves a best-selling-author and WWE Legend.