Call it staged, call it homoerotic, call it bad for kids, call it whatever you want, I don’t care. I’ve been a fan of wrestling ever since I can remember. It has the elements of many of the best forms of serial fiction out there. The characters are memorable, the storylines interesting, and always provides a new installment at least once a week. Now I am not exactly considered a classical, originalist, or hardcore wrestling fan. I have no idea what’s going on in Japan, I saw more of ECW when it was a subsidiary of WWE than when it was on it’s own, I recognize only a handful of people in TNA, and I’ve never seen a live show. There are a lot of poeple who follow wrestling with a passion which I could never come close to. The best I can do is equate it to my current research in the only way I know how. By making crazy connections that seem ridiculous at first sight but strangely make sense once I talk about it for a long enough amount of time.
So how is it that wrestling works like serial fiction? Well it follows the same formula as a television series in that it divides the narrative by seasons. In a few weeks it’s going to be Wrestlemania so it effectively makes it close to the season finale. Now what often happens is that you have way too much leadup and that nothing really changes until you get to Wrestlemania. Storylines get overextended and there are only so many variations you can do between the main hero and villain before they meet in a climactic clash in the show of shows. Since Wrestlemania takes precedence, you know that big things can’t happen in the previous pay per views. One example that I remember from a few years ago was when the Evolution staple was disintegrating. We all knew Batista was going to leave Ric Flair and Triple H just like Randy Orton did not so long ago. The January pay per view was taking place back in my island and my younger brother was going to actually be there. The main event was an Elimination Chamber match where six awesome wrestlers battled it out in an insane steel structure of doom. Our hearts wanted Batista to leave champion but anyone with metaknowledge knew that they would save that titanic bout for months and use it at its best possible dramatic moment.
Another big thing with wrestling is that you will easily have people who like the new stuff and a lot of other people who yearn for the good old days of wrestling. Some prefer the early years where there was little story, few implications of it being scripted and the gimmicks were at a minimum. Other really like those stupid gimmicks of the 80s and early 90s they weren’t so much wrestlers as they were characters (remember Doink the clown vs Giant Gonzalez) and Hulk Hogan was the biggest name in the world, even when his only special move was a body slam followed by a leg drop (seriously, that’s it). Many of my generation and a lot of other people have a special place in their hearts for the Attitude Era of the 90s that lasted over a decade. It was the height of the Monday Night Wars with WWF Raw being on at the same time as WCW Nitro, The race to outdo the other led to some crazy things happenning that made the TV 14 rating sweat like crazy. NWO was wrecking havoc, D-generation X made “suck it” the gesture for all occassions, The Rock made pie eating sound dirty, and Stone Cold Steve Austin made everyone want to break the nearest glass object and raise middle fingers to all. Those were some crazy times back then a lot of us miss them. The last few years have brought about the so called “PG Era” where John Cena was the invinceable nice guy, chair shots to the head became illegal, and there is way more talking than fighting. The PG of everything has been changed drastically ever since two things happened. CM Punk being so meta it’s awesome and The Rock coming back to become the official anti-Cena. Punk switching from the religious and cult style weirdo to antihero voice of the voiceless gave the hardcore fans a conduit by which to express their disdain for something. On the other hand, The Rock made the word “ass” accessible to just about everyone again. They even tried to bleep it when he first came back last year.
There are other ways to compare wrestling to serial fiction and I have already talked way too much for this post so maybe I will continue this one later. In case you were wondering, I chose this particular topic because of today’s episode of Raw. In case you missed, John Cena did an old school “rap” insulting The Rock. It was okay, but what really surprised me was the fact that it was described as being described by Twitter and Michael Cole as “attitudinal”. I think they even bleeped out part and then Rock ended the show with a very “attitudinal” song of his own.