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Why Pro-Wrestling Writing Needs To Be Respected As An Art

WWE
WWE's self-awareness of its flaws is a decent step if the next one is in the appropriate direction
ANALYST
Modified 15 Dec 2018, 12:47 IST
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As a film school student, there's a stigma associated to one especially pertaining to the idea that in the film line an education is a hindrance and an indication of the lack of faith in the abilities of a filmmaker.

That to go into film education and that too for screenwriting, seems silly to most simply because writing is a function believed by the majority that just about everybody can do. The attitude obviously reflects in mainstream cinema of the world and showcases the lack of respect writing for film gets.

Yet, screenwriting is undoubtedly an art form, it might seem shocking to many but writing for film and writing for TV is as distinct as writing for books and writing for a magazine. The discipline not just to write in the entertainment line but from film and TV is vastly different and speaks to the volume of hard work and talent it takes to hone the craft.

That same rule of respect and discipline can apply to write for Wrestling.

In the past week, WWE has come under immense fire for the horrible and downright pathetic writing on display in its weekly programming. Where on one end former writers and wrestlers are quick to defend the hard work it takes to make a workable three-hour programme, on the other fans are at the hilt of a point that has slowly gained traction in these past few years.

Let's just get the cat out of the bag.

For most of the given year and programming, WWE writing and creativity is at an all-time low. Specifically, to the company, it's undoubtedly difficult to write for an ongoing live show with three hours subject to change in a matter of hours, at the whim of potential injuries, fan reactions or more importantly the mind of someone like Vince McMahon.

McMahon's inability to have the insight to see where the product is going and where the industry heads, is particularly problematic considering he has the absolute final say in every matter.

For writers to work in that condition is deplorable and downright torture.

Yet one must also look at the writers functioning within the sphere of the company. Any job, career or passion is difficult. Hemming and hawing about criticism is an unfortunate hallmark of this generation, specifically with the easy social media outlet to curb any undue voices of agitations.

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Writing in any form is undoubtedly hard, after all, everyone can write but not everyone can write well. Yet it
Writing in any form is undoubtedly hard, after all, everyone can write but not everyone can write well. Yet it's no excuse for

balking

at professional criticism

That is what former writer Jimmy Jacobs and wrestler Seth Rollins accomplished in their twitter exchange against fan resentment. Yet as last week's RAW shows us, there is a clear self-awareness at the core of the programming of its failures to deliver at the level best the product can.

If the creative team can acknowledge its issues, I'm sure it can find a solution and hopefully, it will. However, we must look back at why the faults are occurring in the first place. Critical analysis is an important function one must have for the evolution of their work or product. Simply dusting it with post-modernist babble or battling criticism with a perceived 'insider knowledge' of the workings against your audience, does nothing but build complacency.

The question at the forefront remains why the writers are failing. Why is it despite years of engaging in this rapidly changing industry can they still not keep up at an even basis, if not a consistent one.

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Just think to Seth Rollins, while definitely clear that three-hour programming is hard to judge for; it isn't difficult to map out a thin line of narrative accordingly to the changing viewpoints of the masses. He has also gone on to criticizing creative for its inability to perceive the amount of passions fans had for Becky Lynch.

Creative insight during the Attitude Era allowed for instinctive moments to see the rise of a Stone Cold Steve Austin besides his talent
Creative insight during the Attitude Era allowed for instinctive moments to see the rise of a Stone Cold Steve Austin besides his talent

It took creative years to realize the potential in Lynch than capitalize on it, once accomplished their directive nearly took Becky Lynch to the opposite spectrum of fan's wishes and live reactions that only worked by the sheer fortitude of the performers involved.

The same applies to the interactions in the past five years between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. A major story that has been the foundation of this new era, the Ambrose-Rollins saga along with Roman Reigns hasn't always found the best creative output.

Yet it is the performers genuine understanding of their characters and situations, that resultantly carries duds in the ring and sometimes out of it.

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Creative lucked out with the version of Becky they tried to sell versus the version the viewers transformed and accepted into
Creative lucked out with the version of Becky they tried to sell versus the version the viewers transformed and accepted into

Writing failures to judge three hours of ever-changing content are excusable. Yet, writing failures across the board with months and months of storytelling and characters to fall upon, is a clear indication that it is the writers failing the product.

We must then come down to the fundamental question of why that is?

The answer is as clear as day and one that has been generating criticism among wrestling fans for the past decade. It is the answer that differentiates the current product versus that of a bygone generation.

These writers are strictly hired with no experience or knowledge of wrestling.

The upheaval of the system of the industry is altered from the Attitude Era, the high point of professional wrestling. Back then all a company like WWE needed were like-minded individuals from within the business to engage in the discussions over the content of programming from show to show, event to event and year to year.

It helped back then that WWE
It helped back then that WWE's creative had the likes of Pat Patterson (pictured above), Gerald Brisco and Jim Ross to counterpoint Vince McMahon
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People who've grown into the business either as managers, promoters or wrestlers; well aware of how and where to take the product and instinctive enough to work on the fly.

Former soap opera writers (some even failed ones), the kind hired by WWE today are a different breed and their experience has some value. However, the writers WWE hires cannot work on films without changing their basic mindset. If that's the case, then live TV over a 365-day calendar is a whole other ball game. Heck, it might not even be the same sport.

Yet as aforementioned the simple days of the attitude era are over, to keep with the changing pace of times WWE undoubtedly requires a stacked and well-functioning hive mind of a writer's room. The only difference it need consider is the talent it fills the room with.

WWE's creative highs can only be met with writers astutely engaged to the business. Writers with the ability to morph their craft according to the styles of the business. This means knowing the mechanics of an in-ring match of a variety of types/styles and genres. This means knowing the working differences between a monologue/dialogue exchange and a wrestling promo. This means knowing when to curtail an ongoing arc and take it multiple ways at the whim of viewer reactions.

It also means being knowledgeable enough to hopefully counter the iron-fisted McMahons.

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A former writer for WWE and wrestler, Jimmy Jacobs despite his opinions is the kind of person to look up to an emulate in this business as a creative
A former writer for WWE and wrestler, Jimmy Jacobs despite his opinions is the kind of person to look up to an emulate in this business as a creative

We're not suggesting that a creative course for wrestling be implemented anywhere. The independents do a better job simply because they have wrestlers also handling creative/production aspects.

It's just about realizing that school or no school, wrestling creative is a different beast. That writing is a discipline and maybe it's time the burgeoning industry considers investing in the creative aspect of a business.

If cinema is to learn it takes more than just stars to sell a picture.

Then it's also time for WWE to learn that it takes more than just wrestlers and sports entertainers to craft a product, hell even an in-ring match. 

Published 15 Dec 2018, 12:47 IST
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