It’s almost over. Three words we all use when we know we’re getting tired of what we’re seeing/hearing. When you’re ¾ of the way through a book that is decidedly bad, you tell yourself “it’s almost over”. An hour into that crappy movie you’ve shelled out nearly $50 to see a (concession items included), you tell yourself “its almost over”. During the dreaded month of May in the WWE, as June approaches you tell yourself that “it’s almost over”. The frustration you feel with the creative direction of WWE is (hopefully) almost over. I however take no comfort in that sentiment, because quite frankly, to know that each year the WWE will essentially phone in their creative effort is disturbing. I’m certainly not saying that everything I do is brilliant. Truth be told, I’ve been an integral part of some bad productions in my life time, but the quality of the work was not the result of a lack of effort, and there is certainly no pattern (meaning I don’t deliver sub par work every May).
There was a time when it was my dream to work on the WWE creative team. I’d imagine it often; getting to sit in a room with passionate, like-minded individuals brainstorming storylines and gimmicks, trying to illustrate the best narrative possible on a week to week basis. Now when I think about the possibility of working for WWE creative makes me cringe. It would be a nightmare, that would mercifully be put to an end when they fired me, and believe me, the way that they seem to do things in the WWE I’m close to certain I’d get fired. It’s actually become somewhat of a running joke between my friends and I, talking about reasons I’d get fired from the WWE if I ever worked there.
Every week I talk about the importance of character to the narrative, but this week I’m going to criticize the WWE’s generally aloof approach to storytelling. I’m going to have some fun presenting them as a list of five reasons I’d get fired from the WWE. So without further ado, here are Five Reasons I’d Get Fired If I Worked For The WWE!
5. I’m not comfortable Writing Sketch Comedy
I’ve often heard the WWE referred to as an action soap opera and for a time that was true. The WWE presented multiple characters, storylines, drama, and surprises on a weekly basis; it was absolutely a soap opera in terms of its narrative. Now I’d say that WWE Monday Night Raw resembles a sketch comedy show like MADtv or Saturday Night Live.
Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. There are plenty of people that love to watch one off sketches that have no relation to one another, with no underlying message, emotion or drama (basically every program other than the Main Event). I as a writer however have never been great at writing sketch comedy. The Serial Narrative is more my wheelhouse, and it would only be a matter of time before the WWE realized this and sent me packing because heaven forbid I tell a story with a theme and dare I say, character development.
4. I’m not a Bully
Too many times over the years have I seen the WWE include segments on television that only exist to denigrate and demean a person they employ. From Vickie Guerrero, to Mickie James, to good ol’ Jim Ross, the WWE loves to humiliate people for the sake of entertainment. It’s all just part of the show, so it’s not bullying. Bull F’n Shit! What story are you serving to have J.R. be humiliated again and again on TV? What story is it serving to have good guys constantly hurl insults at Vickie about her weight? These segments serve no purpose, and only exist to humiliate. I wouldn’t waste my time or creativity wring that garbage, and would likely get booted out the door for it, but only after Vince had a chance to demean and denigrate me. B A Star my ass!
3. I actually abide by the Rules of the “World of My Story”
This concept seems foreign to the WWE Creative team, so allow me to elaborate. When you create rules for the world in which your story exists, it is of the utmost important that you write within the parameters you have set, otherwise everything you have created, will have absolutely no meaning. When you say no one is allowed to make fun of Big Johnny’s voice, and go as far as having Big Show fired for the offence, explain to me why John Cena isn’t being fired for his mocking of John Laurinaitis? Or Punk for that matter? Oh and why hasn’t Sheamus been punished for knocking over John Laurinaitis after he proclaimed no one was allowed to touch him?
Believe me, I understand that these rules are only enforced when they service the story, but that makes the whole world I’m supposed to be buying into collapse in on itself. If no one is allowed to make fun of John Laurinaitis, then no one should be allowed to make fun of John Laurinaitis without facing appropriate consequences. If there’s a brand separation, no one should be allowed to appear on the other brand whenever they please. The Brand Extension was a good idea that failed because they couldn’t help but break the rules that they set up for it. Any concept will fail if you don’t keep track of and follow your own rules. The rules you create should be constant, and most definitely shouldn’t only be acknowledged when it’s convenient. That’s weak writing.
2. I Need Things to Make Sense
I don’t know about you, but I have this innate need for things to make sense. The things I do, the things participate in, and certainly the things that I write need to make sense. Unfortunately it seems as though making sense is not required in the WWE. I’m sure bringing up the nonsensical foolishness the WWE presents the WWE Universe (which would be often) would eventually get me fired. I have a feeling it would go something like this:
Matty J. Douglas: Vince, why are you doing Big Johnny’s job evaluation?
Vince McMahon: Who cares, it’s not like any of this has to make sense.
Matty J. Douglas: Vince, why is the board of directors ordering that a position as important as General Manager be decided in matches? Are they literally the dumbest collection of human beings ever?
Vince McMahon: I don’t know. Stop asking questions; just turn your brain off.
Matty J. Douglas: But Vince, why exactly does John Laurinaitis seem to have more power on Raw and Smackdown than his boss Triple H?
Vince McMahon: That’s it get out of here you son of a bitch! You’re FIRED!
1. I Plan for the Future
In my writing I complete thorough outlines that detail everything I want to say before I start the process of actually writing. Planning is the difference between a good movie and a bad movie, a good TV show and a bad TV show. Anything great that you see, hear or use is the product of meticulous planning, not flying by the seat of your pants, which by multiple accounts is how WWE runs their weekly programming.
Making change after change after change up until hours and sometimes minutes before the show goes live is begging for weak material. You’re not making your plan well in advance, and knowing for certain what your narrative truly requires. The only time they meticulously plan is Wrestlemania season. The fact of the matter is that I’d treat all year like Wrestlemania season. I’d treat the time period between each of the big 4 PPVs (Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam, Survivor Series) like they’re their own season. I’d make my plans and wouldn’t second-guess myself or change them unless under extreme circumstances (injuries, suspension, etc). My stubbornness would likely result in my termination.
Part of me still wants to work for the WWE someday, and as much as I’m having fun writing this piece, the sad thing is that a lot of the stands that I would personally make for the sake of my writing and the product would probably get me fired, or at the very least in a lot of trouble. I know that the WWE has a daunting task. They produce 4 (soon to be 5) hours of major television programming on a weekly basis, with no break or offseason to speak of. They have more than 30 characters that they are trying to cram into those 4-5 hours each and every week. I’m not expecting perfection, merely the pursuit of it.
Great wrestling will only get you so far, but what grabs vieweres is compellling stories with interesting characters. People don't buy PPVs to see matches whose winners are pre determined, they tune in to see the story conclude or continue. WWE Creative can't let pettiness, bullying, nonsense, and plot holes be the norm for WWE programming. Work your hardest every week to put on the best damn show possible. If this is the WWE Creative Team putting forth a maximum effort, I have absolutely no desire to ever be a part of it.
There you have it, but what do you think? Do you think the WWE is giving us their best effort? Would a little more long term planning help the product? Are you more forgiving of the logic errors than I am? Does it annoy you when the WWE breaks the rules that they set up themselves on their own programming?
See you next week with a brand new edition of A Matter of Character. Until then, I’m Matty J. Douglas thanking the Spurs for a fun season. No shame in losing to the soon-to-be champs. Go OKC!