Happy Tuesday TJR faithful. I’ve been away for a while, but I’m back, and I’m here to talk wrestling! The question is, what to talk about? I don’t know if you’ve felt the way I have recently, but while what’s going on in the WWE isn’t bad right now, there are very few things that are super noteworthy.
I’ve gushed on social media and in past pieces about how much I love John Cena’s U.S. Open Challenge (and how it’s led to a rivalry with Kevin Owens). I’ve sung the praises of The New Day, who continue to impress in and out of the ring (although I’d like to see more of them interacting with top guys like they did with Reigns and Orton, which I consider peak New Day). Even Dean Ambrose is main eventing a Network special against Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship. There are a few great things happening right now, but nothing I haven’t already proclaimed my unyielding appreciation for.
I believe the issue is that despite the quality of the characters and angles I listed, the outcomes are all fairly predictable. The New Day are going to be awesome, John Cena while surprisingly facing opponents we’d never expected him to battle, will beat them, and Rollins will somehow someway retain his WWE World Heavyweight Championship. These aren’t bad outcomes or stories to tell, just predictable. While I love a 4 or 5 star match, and entertaining promos, sometimes I need a surprise.
Let me rephrase that. Sometimes I need a little mystery. The WWE is pretty good at surprises. Moments that you didn’t see coming, whether it be a return, a shocking loss/victory, etc. They’re also great at building to the inevitable, such as Brock Lesnar’s inevitable return this summer. The WWE however isn’t great at mystery. The art of dangling a big question in the air, with a solution or immediate payoff nowhere in sight.
They do it sometimes with turns. Why did Guy X turn on Guy Y? Why did Superstar A align with Superstar B? The delay in explanation usually isn’t to build mystery, but rather to mask the fact that they haven’t themselves figured a sufficient explanation for the (often) sudden change in nature?
The closest they get to mystery is with some match outcomes, much like they had this year with Brock/Roman, before Brock announced he’d re-signed with the WWE. Nobody knew what was going to happen in that match because Brock’s contract situation was up in the air, and Roman hadn’t been embraced by the fans. For weeks the question was “how is the WWE going to book that finish?” Nobody could say definitively they could predict that outcome, because there were details we didn’t have. The WWE needs more angles that feel like that.
The reason the WWE is fundamentally bad at creating an air of mystery around an angle, is because things change too often within their narrative. Creating mystery requires a premeditated outcome which you slowly unveil clues that point in that direction. For the WWE’s scatterbrained brand of storytelling, this is obviously difficult. What was originally intended to be revealed as one thing, becomes several different things over the course of a few weeks, before they eventually settle on the most shocking revelation. The goal of a good mystery isn’t to shock, but to intrigue. The viewers aren’t looking for A solution to the mystery, but THE solution.
Lack of mystery is why the lustre has worn off of Bray Wyatt. His character was once mysterious. What does he want? What do his rambling means? What are his plans? Each of these questions were begging to be answered and he had an aura of a man with a grander scheme. As time has passed, it seems fairly evident that he has no plan, and that he wants for nothing. He is chaos embodied in the WWE, which is fine. That being said, I was far more interested in his character when I thought he was a cult leader, a cunning individual with two brutes backing him up. I was more intrigued when I thought the riddles he spoke in were puzzles meant to be solved. Puzzles whose solutions were synonymous with destruction and doom. He was better when he was the embodiment of mystery and evil, begging to be solved by his opponents and by us, as opposed to mindless, chaotic embodiment of fear.
Which brings me to what the WWE could do now to inject a little mystery into the current state of the WWE. The WWE got a lot of mileage out of “The Vigilante” Sting last year, in their build to Wrestlemania 31, despite his brand of vigilantism being rather tepid. Looking back on the entire angle, and how it built to a complete blow off at Wrestlemania, has me thinking more could have been done, and can still be done. What if Sting’s stand against The Authority showed guys that they can be stopped? What if Sting’s run as the Vigilante, inspired another vigilante or vigilantes?
I know what you’re thinking: what’s mysterious about that? The element of mystery is hiding the identity of the new vigilante who decides to take a stand against The Authority. Let him have video packages where he says he was inspired by Sting to stand up to The Authority. Have The Authority get more and more frustrated with the way he sticks his nose in their business, and all the while, we aren’t told who it is. The Authority have no clue who the guy is, and they enlist the help of WWE Superstars to unmask this renegade, and reveal him to the world.
With the success of comic book movies and TV shows, adding elements of those brands of fiction to the WWE is a no brainer. It’s also pretty topical to have a skilled man or group of men, stand up to an oppressive Authority, as is being seen all over the world these days. Groups like Anonymous and movements set in motion to dial back the power of Authoritative Regimes are incredibly relevant in the age we are living in. The WWE could reflect that in their storytelling.
To do something like this, they’d need to abandon some of their storytelling principles. Namely they’d need to pick a Superstar or group of Superstars, to be behind the mask. Who this person is is important, as their identity and building towards it’s eventual reveal is the central mystery of the entire angle. If it’s one guy, they need to be planting the seeds for it to be that guy for a long while. If it’s a group of disgruntled WWE Superstars taking up arms against The Authority, the same principles apply. My point is there can’t be any flying by the seat of your pants. They’ll need to know exactly what story they are telling and be in complete control of it from the jump.
There you have it, but as always I want to know what you think! Could today’s WWE use a little mystery? Is the WWE a little too predictable right now? Do you prefer shocking moments or prolonged intrigue? What kind of mysteries do you think would work within the WWE narrative? What Superstar or Superstars would you like to see take up the Vigilante mantle Sting has left behind? What are some mysteries from WWE’s history, answered or unanswered?
Until next time folks I’m Matty J. Douglas saying I’m glad Stephen Curry is okay after that nasty fall last night. If he had been seriously injured, it would have put a damper on the entire NBA Playoffs. Have a great week everybody!