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Is predictability a problem in pro wrestling?

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve been watching wrestling so long that I’ve forgotten what it is to be a fan. It’s one of the reasons I think I often see sports entertainment differently than some modern wrestling buffs.

For example, I’m not against part-timers anymore, nor am I against them holding a company’s top prize, and I’m not as enthusiastic as I once was for several gimmick matches. But one issue I’ve seen complaints about is how predictable wrestling can be. Presently, I don’t understand how or why that’s an issue — and I can’t recall if it was something I ever grumbled about.

Scrolling through Twitter following this week’s AEW Dynamite, I found the main event being criticized in some quarters because its outcome was seen as a foregone conclusion, as in comments like this one:

“This was one of the most predictable Blood and Guts matches they had. As soon as Kota Ibushi was announced, they weren’t losing.”

It brought to mind something else I listened to recently: Chris Van Vliet’s interview with Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, who spoke about predictability and how it factors into his famous/infamous match ratings. As an example, in citing why he rated WrestleMania X8’s bout between Hulk Hogan & The Rock three stars instead of four, Meltzer said:

“You know, it’s like when I watched it, the day I watched it, it was very predictable to me, and maybe that was the problem. You know, that I knew everything they were going to do when they did it, and which isn’t necessarily bad either...”

Meltzer doesn’t finish his thought, which fits right in with the topic we’re here to discuss: why is predictability a bad thing?

In 2022, I sat in a packed movie theater, something I hate doing, to watch The Batman, knowing full well that Batman would triumph because, well, duh, he’s Batman. Yet I, and everyone seated around me, was willing to take the ride because we love Batman and had no idea how he would succeed.

Speaking of rides, perhaps a better analogy is a roller coaster because once I’ve been on the ride before, I know exactly how it goes, move for move. I rode old Splash Mountain at Disneyland so many times back in the day that I knew when to mug for the park’s camera just before the final drop. Still, I enjoyed every second of the ride.

Why? Because it was fun.

And pro wrestling, like a movie or a roller coaster ride, is often fun, even if it’s predictable.

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