The act of writing is easy. The art of writing is hard. The art of storytelling is hard. Writing stories is hard. For me, I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery over the last few years, in my attempts at becoming a writer or at least make some sort of career out of it. We leap into the profession of our choice in the vain notion that we’ll hit the ground running and immediately become good at whatever it is we want to do, ready to embrace the success that will come our way, only to fall flat on our faces. Whether it be through criticism, rejection or lack of willpower, those who try and become writers of any fashion will always swallow the bitter pill of reality that will shatter our illustrious dreams, but only those who refuse to give up will pick up the pieces of that shattered dream and rebuild a mosaic that will one day serve as our hard-earned masterpiece.
For this humble writer, my shattered shards are being slowly pieced together and that’s fine because I understand the hard work, dedication and rejection being a writer takes. Socrates (Philosopher 470BC – 399BC) once said “To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge”, and it’s important to sometimes remember that quote when we learn a new skill. It’s an important human quality to be humble once in a while and remember that everyone was once a novice at something they’re now good at, and it takes hard work and dedication to appreciate the effort that goes into producing good work. So we should be fully aware that to become good at something, we may start at a point where we know nothing about it.
After the numerous rejections J.K Rowling received early in her writing career, would we now see fit to criticize her latest work if we didn’t like it? Who are we to feel worthy enough to disagree with the art and work she’s spent years and years perfecting, honing and mastering? If that’s the case with such a famous writer, are we not equally as insolent to criticize writers of the current WWE product? Have they not dealt with rejection, criticism and difficulty in their writing endeavors? Who are we, the fans, to even try to understand the work and effort that goes into writing layers of story-lines that are mainly played out through physical displays and the occasional soundbite?
I made this error in the past week, when I fell into the trap of believing the internet rumors (everything’s true on the internet, right?) and I mistakenly blamed the overarching influence of Vince McMahon on the outcome of the Women’s MITB ladder match this past Sunday. For a moment I allowed myself a superior point of view and sneered at the booking, chastising the decision and failed to see the wood for the trees.
With the splinters removed from my eyes and managing to step back from that blinkered viewpoint, I wholeheartedly apologise to Road Dogg (Brian G. James) and the Smackdown writing team for my naivety in instantly dismissing the outcome of that match as bad booking. Who am I to say what’s good and bad when it comes to writing wrestling story-lines? I’m just a fan. Was I disappointed with the outcome? Of course, but perhaps I felt the anger rise within me more purely because I’m not the biggest fan of James Ellsworth.
Standing back and looking at the Smackdown landscape after the PPV, the writers pulled off a great show that made the Women’s Ladder match THE match people were talking about, rather than the men’s. That’s not a slight on the men’s match either, as it gave us a terrific show with some great spots. It’s just that the story of the women’s match carried over beyond the PPV and has actually given us another MITB ladder match. Consider this; if Becky Lynch had won the briefcase fair and square, would we have had a rematch? No. Would we still be talking about the ladder match? Perhaps not as much as we are now.
Some fans argue that there isn’t enough depth and longevity in WWE story-lines at present. Smackdown’s writers have given us that with this MITB outcome. Overall, it’s fair to say that Smackdown’s writers do more with their show than Raw’s writers do, especially considering they have an hour less to work with. Their work with the talent, especially the Women’s Division has been of such a high standard that many fans appear to prefer the blue brand as opposed to the flagship show.
To achieve this appreciation and receive such plaudits from fans of professional wrestling shows how much work goes into writing and producing Smackdown Live. Even beyond the two hours on Smackdown Live, on Talking Smack they’ve managed to find another dimension to the product that hasn’t really caught on in regards to Raw. Smackdown historically has been the favored show to work on if you’re a wrestler (Eddie Guerrero mentioned this in his book, as have others) and the writers appear to have pulled of the delicate balancing act of keeping the stars happy whilst also delivering a fantastic product that fans enjoy. For goodness sake, they gave us the very first Women’s MITB Ladder match. That’s a landmark moment in WWE and for women’s wrestling.
So to the Smackdown writers, to Road Dogg Brian G. James (who incidentally puts up with so much crap on Twitter, he deserves heaps of credit) – I apologize. I apologize for my narrow-minded response to your storytelling and promise to appreciate the hard work that goes into your craft. I’ll take a step back and try to see the bigger picture in future when it comes to Smackdown Live. I’m thankful for all that you’ve done in recent years and promise to bite my tongue if I don’t like what happens on screen or in the ring. I’ll remember that I don’t know any better. I’ll remember what Socrates said; “To know, is to know that you know nothing”, and I know nothing about how hard your job is.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes that sums up my thoughts quite well. It’s part of a speech by Theodore Roosevelt. I have this pinned on my locker in work. Enjoy.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
As always, thanks for reading.