Wrestling enthusiasts are disgruntled with WWE’s product for variety of reasons. Some reasons have merit and are well-thought-out while others are misguided and openly biased. While I am optimistic about WWE – without a sensation of hope, there would be no reason to watch – the reoccurring problem of its inability to tell stories in a properly manner is very exasperating.
The methodology behind how to tell a story is not all that complex. The beginning is where the writer introduces the characters, sets the scene or mood and inaugurates the story. The middle is where the story builds and unravels, then builds to the climax. Lastly, the ending is where the story resolves. And, for people to care about the story, there must be a conflict of some sort, e.g. man vs man, man vs. nature, man vs himself.
The main objective of a story to remind us life has a meaning and purpose. In wrestling, matches symbolically tells us hard work is rewarded; so, when hard work does not pay off, we instinctively feel emotionless and ungratifying inside. Because without purpose, there is no story.
Which means, every wrestler should wrestle with a purpose and objective in mind. Watching two talented wrestlers display their craft can be entertaining, but in the end, it is worthless. When nothing is at stake, the difference between winning and losing is nothing at all. It would be like watching a sports game that does not count score. The game might be fun and exciting, but in the end, the fact that it has no point will make the procedure tiresome.
WWE loves bragging about how its matches have meaning and how it separates them from the pack. But it could not be farther from the truth. In the company, wrestlers win important matches, but their status does not rise. Wrestlers also lose important matches, but their status does not fall. Due to WWE's myopic booking, they have accidentally train its fans to not take outcomes of matches seriously.
In storytelling, a cause must lead to an effect; a winner of a match should climb the proverbial ladder and the loser of the match should fall a step or two back down. Storytelling is art impersonating life, and life is never stagnant. Life is instead constantly changing, which means art is misrepresenting life when there is stagnancy in stories.
A good story is like a good roller coaster: both bring people on a journey with peaks and valleys. A good roller coasters will never just drop people 200 feet in a blink of an eye. People never had a chance to think, thus there is no suspense. The suspense is built when the ride gradually takes you up to the tippy-top and allows you to realize just how high up you are when you look down at people, trees and the ground.
A roller coaster should also never bring people on the same journey as before. It might do the same track in backwards manner but that is still a change from the first time. But when a roller coaster keeps repeating the journey, people will become disinterested in it because their mind can predict what will happen. And, like a story, the best or worst part of a roller coaster is there is no turning back.
In literature, this is known as the locked up conflict. It is the time when characters make a bold decision or someone else puts then a dilemma, and the most intriguing aspect of a locked up conflict is there is no way of turning back for these character. They will either triumph or face the consequences of their actions.
But WWE does not seem to acknowledge that. Instead, they love their cop-out booking and always want to have its cake and eat it too. They have its cake by dint of fooling people something will change and then eat their cake too by dint of not pulling the trigger or backtracking a few weeks later.
As we established before, a story is a constant moving and changing development, but a good story is a constant moving and changing development that keeps amplifying. If a story cannot keep amplifying, people will start losing interest in it. People enjoy watching high how the bar can go, but the bigger reason why is the last so-called chapter is the last part they remember.
Moreover, the theory of "it is not how you start, it is how you finish" could not be truer in regards to storytelling. The last moment of the story is what will be engraved into people’s minds the most and is why most successful pieces of theater save their best moments for last.
WWE does not save their best parts for last, though.
The common WWE story begins with an interesting exposition, and it causes people to become curious of why that happened. Then, the next show it will fill in all the details that describe why it happened, establishing the point of the conflict. However, after that, WWE usually fills the next weeks with a whole bunch of nothing.
Does the story gradually reveal information that is more interesting? Nope. Does something happen to progress the story? Not usually. Does the match in some shape or form happen before or one of the big climaxes (the PPV)? Usually. Is the match booked in a way where it causes people to want and see the climax match even more? Nope. The match happens – there is a winner and a loser – and WWE expects people will want to see the same match again but this time pay for it.
The point is WWE’s storylines run out of steam at the most crucial points of its journey, causing the climax to lose most if not all its luster.
Let us look at Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker for example. The Undertaker attacked Brock Lesnar at Battleground. The following night he explained why he did and then both wrestlers had an epic brawl. It was a great way to start the angle as long as the story does not lack material that will elevate the story. But, WWE did not have any other ideas for elevate the angle. So, other than "these two men will fight 5 weeks from now", the brawl did not even leave a lingering cliffhanger, and accordingly, WWE compacted the rest of the feud with fluff, and by the time the match came, the anticipation created by the brawl was an afterthought.
If they saved the best for last, the epic brawl is the last memory in people’s minds, and it would have made all the difference.
Ultimately, WWE needs to spend time making matches seem important and avoid having a stagnant product. When nothing is happening or changing, the show becomes irrelevant and thus people have no reason to watch it. They also need to become more vigilant with their storytelling. They are rushing through these stories, making sure everyone understands the purpose behind him, well before they should. They also are not progressing these stories on a weekly basis or saving the best for last.
All the great wrestling in their world cannot rescue them from these problems and that is why they hurt the most.