I’m going to assume that the majority of you are over the age of, say, eight. Being older than that, it’s fair to assume that you can figure out basic things by yourself, such as simple motivations and storylines on a wrestling show. Sure there are times where things need a better explanation, but there are also times where we get the concept before it’s handed to us like a child. Today we’re going to look at how WWE does it and then how a company that doesn’t think you’re a nitwit approaches the same issue.
What does this solve? How does this make me want to keep watching? I’m not a fan of any company in any industry treating me like an idiot and I don’t need three hours of it every single week on “Monday Night Raw”. I get the idea of advertising something that’s coming up later in the show but you don’t have to be so heavy handed with it. There’s also the art of letting the fans think for themselves and that’s where we get to the opposite end of the spectrum.
Consider the most recent episode of “Lucha Underground”. A few weeks back at Aztec Warfare II, Matanza won the Lucha Underground Title by basically destroying most of the roster. No one was able to get in anything on him and it was a feeble attempt to see most of his opponents trying. However, there was one major name that didn’t get a shot at him.
The former Lucha Underground Champion Mil Muertes had been eliminated earlier in the match and never actually faced off with Matanza. Muertes was the only person who could conceivably stand toe to toe with Matanza and we didn’t get to see it. Over the next few weeks, Matanza beat up one name after another with the same results: absolute destruction.
Then after Matanza squashed former champion Fenix, Muertes showed up and cleared Matanza out of the ring in a power display that hasn’t been seen in the promotion since…..well since Matanza’s debut actually. People knew this showdown was coming but it was still kind of a surprise. It felt like a big deal and that’s exactly what they were shooting for with the angle.
The key to this whole thing though was the announcers acted surprised too. They didn’t act like this was something everyone knew was going to happen (read as none of them had a list of Mil Muertes’ accomplishments like JBL had for Sting’s debut at “Survivor Series 2014”) and it felt like something that actually felt like a big deal. Above all else though, the fans weren’t being treated like a bunch of morons who had no reason to be surprised.
The worst thing is that WWE knows how to do something like this. Flash back with me to the “Monday Night Raw” after “Wrestlemania XXX” and in particular, the ending segment. The big story on the biggest “Monday Night Raw” of the year was the Shield officially turning face. Now if you had watched “Wrestlemania XXX” the night before or saw Shield’s reaction to Kane admitting that HHH had betrayed the team, this really wasn’t hard to figure out.
However, the key to the whole turn was the fans figuring it out and not having it beaten into their heads. Instead, the announcers really played up the idea that Daniel Bryan might get screwed out of his newly won WWE World Title just a day after winning it. As soon as you believed that was possible, the idea of Shield was pushed out of (maybe not entirely) your mind and their music hitting made that things that much more awesome.
Now imagine that same thing if you had JBL and Cole prattling on about how the Shield might have an issue with this or how it felt like a big injustice. While the Shield coming out for the save made perfect sense, it helped that the fans were able to let the moment build up for them beforehand. It made things more exciting, and that’s what a show like “Monday Night Raw” is supposed to do.
Back to Lucha Underground for a bit, another reason this worked so well is the lack of talking about the backstage segments. These are completely separate from the rest of the show and the announcers never talk about them. While the fans might know some big development, the announcers having no idea about it allows them to add a sense of realism to their commentary. Again though, this can be done badly by a less competent organization.
Now of course that means we’re flashing back to WCW and in particular an episode of “Monday Nitro” on February 15, 1999. This is a somewhat infamous episode where Ric Flair was taken to a field and severely beaten at the hands of the NWO. Later in the night, Flair would return to the arena with his clothes torn and horribly beaten. However, much like in Lucha Underground, the announcers had no idea this was going on.
The difference here though is that the WCW announcers didn’t get the idea and thought Flair was showing up drunk, basically missing the point of the entire segment. See, with Flair, it wasn’t clear what was going on because it was something so big and different that there was no way to make a connection to what happened and Flair coming to the arena in that condition. Muertes coming back to attack Matanza over the title made sense and was a simple mental step for the audience to make.
In other words, wrestling fans can actually be smart and figure things out without having their hand held the whole way through. I know that might be shocking for WWE to comprehend, but you don’t have to be a genius to figure out a basic story. It gets very tiresome to hear commentary explain everything to you over and over again, especially when it isn’t that hard to figure out in the first place.
Let us see the story play itself out and then give us the explanation like an expert who happens to be watching the show with us. In other words, act like a fan instead of someone who thinks they’re smarter than the viewer. It got old a long time ago and is something that can be so easily fixed.
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