Pro Wrestling has produced millions of fans over the last 3 decades. But, is pro wrestling’s entertainment success from the high flying stunts, seemingly elaborate backbreaking body slams, and chiseled athletes that aim to beat down their opponent(s)?
We can conclude that any coordinated athlete can learn how to become a pro wrestler. Amateur wrestlers and underground wrestling organizations have tried to replicate the successes of the likes of WWE without coming close and failing.
What formula has the WWE figured out to continue to successfully keep fans roaring at their events and enthusiastically paying to watch every year’s SUMMER SLAM?
It’s the story, drama, and suspense…
From what was once a show where the action was called on the fly, talent depicting how the match would develop, and the crowd’s response letting the wrestlers know what works and what doesn’t work. Pro Wrestling has evolved into a completely different model. Today most of a televised wrestling match or event is coordinated with the help of an entire team backstage.
The WWE has its own creative writing department that consists of more than 20 writers at a given time. The writers come from various backgrounds and disciplines from soap operas, late-night television shows, movies, to theater, and former wrestlers that have a knack of what fans like. Some are fans that have a wrestling background and some aren’t fans. The job is a never ending ordeal. They write about 10-15 hours a week of original content, so they’re not just writing for one Monday Night Raw event.
The job requires creativity and lots of changes that need to be made on the fly. A new week for the writers begins on Wednesday following Monday Night Raw and the taping of SmackDown on Tuesday night. Several meetings for ideas follow throughout the week. Eventually, rough ideas and scripts are revealed to the lead writing team and senior department including WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon.
After, the deliberations, development, and decisions made, the scripts reach the talent and their agents on Monday. Most of the pro wrestlers follow the script verbatim. With top talent and popular pro wrestlers that are very established, they are given more leeway to add their own twist and “voice” to the script because they know what works.
Once the wrestlers familiarize themselves with the script, the creative team gets a chance to change and/or add details to perfect the script. But, even then, the script is not completely finalized until it is aired by the network television (USA Network).
Tweaks are made up until it is aired. The finished show is not considered done until it’s live. And even when it’s aired, changes are made thereafter by the creative writers, wrestlers, and decision makers. If they see that a segment didn’t work, they pivot and make the changes when the new week begins.
In the end, every creative pitch ends up in the hands of one decision maker, Vince McMahon.
Fans of pro wrestling resent this process. But it’s the reality of it all. It works. It’s like magic. At the end of the day, there are millions of satisfied fans wanting more.
But, even though all of WWE’s storylines are scripted, the fan’s voice is still very powerful and can influence the decision making of the story. So, the fate of pro wrestlers still lies in their own hands.
“It’s about the characters and their relationships.” says a WWE employee.
WWE has lasted this long because they’ve evolved and created a formula that appeals to what fans, and what most people are attracted to – stories, drama, and suspense.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying there’s anything bad about watching the WWE SmackDown or Monday Night Raw, but when I see my coworkers at a landscaping company talk about it like it’s as real as it gets and not scripted at all, it makes me want to do a Yoko Zuna Splash on them in a trash pile of bagged leaves.
Note to the haters: Nowhere in this article did I say these wrestlers are not athletes and the stunts they do aren’t real. I’m merely saying that what you see being played out before you is mainly scripted with bits of improvisation. No doubt these guys are in great shape and the wrestling they do very tiring, but in the end they’re paid performers who can get you to spend your money.
Ok, Ok! End Rant!!