World Wrestling Entertainment is amid a tough stretch of discord among fans and their WWE Superstars. The lull in the creativity of programming following Wrestlemania is an annual point of frustration. And with the emergence of All Elite Wrestling as a potential employment alternative, WWE Superstars are a bit more vocal about their frustration. (As we covered about Sasha Banks.) Thus such frustrations prompted this piece, so we dive into two major changes that WWE needs to make to compete with AEW.
Now let’s begin with a clarification, the WWE is NOT in a vulnerable position. WWE will not be destroyed by All Elite Wrestling in 2019 or even 2020 for that matter. However, this piece will shine a light on some things that AEW has professed to make foundational points in their promotion. And the changes that WWE can make to improve the product.
When the executives of All Elite Wrestling were explaining their upcoming “modus operandi” they stated more creative freedom. One such creative freedom was about not scripting promos. Promos are a vital part of storytelling in the wrestling business. And when the “writer” is trying to capture the essence of the performer, the genuine substance of the character is lost. Professional wrestling at its core is performance art. It’s just like a theatrical play only with more physicality. The verbalization in wrestling is very important and a lost art in WWE. The loss comes from the fact that WWE Superstar’s promos are so heavily scripted.
Scripting promos like Hollywood movies doesn’t work for pro-wrestling. Many times the “writers” of said promos script sentences that no normal human being would ever say during a “fight.” This is where allowing the performers in the ring to speak for themselves to give more authenticity to the performance. And yes there is always the possibility of a Sid Vicious/Justice moment when the promo would not go the way it’s intended. But when wrestlers are speaking from the heart of the character that is when we get iconic moments like Stone Cold’s “Austin 3:16 promo.”
Cohesive & Coherent Long-Term Booking
One major issue that WWE faces is self-inflicted, and that is the lack of cohesiveness in their storylines. The constant last-minute changes to plots, scripts, and finishes leave stories incomplete and fans frustrated. WWE will begin telling a story about a young man looking for the fountain of youth. And during the alien invasion, a dragon would fly to the planet Titan. Caesar would decree that the New York Yankees are the national team of strawberry day.
Can you see the problem with the story? IT MAKES NO SENSE! And this is what WWE stories tend to feel like throughout many feuds. Yes, sometimes, stories must change because of different circumstances. But WWE stories lack longevity because on their inconsistency. Changing the booking pattern should be a rather easy move to make. Because it’s about understanding what the end results will be and developing the plan backward. Long-term storytelling by WWE is nonexistent, but as proven by New Japan Pro Wrestling it works to honor loyal fans. And it helps build up wrestlers and moves (Kenny Omega’s One-Winged Angel.)
In short, WWE is safe from the uprising of All Elite Wrestling (for now.) But the feeling of the late 90s is starting to return. There is the belief that a war between the two companies is brewing and fans are picking sides. And this brewing “war” is good for us as fans of pro-wrestling. As the need to win the rating war will drive the creativity in the business back up to an all-time high.