As someone whose background is in creative writing and theater, my attention as a pro-wrestling fan can always be brought back to two things: the story lines and the promos. You can’t have one without the other. The actual matches themselves do not actually require either, though no great wrestling match became great without in-ring psychology built around a story and backed with solid stick work. As a nit-picking “smark”, my attention always goes back to whether or not a performer is delivering their promos eloquently and with style, and how the story is unfolding.
When I was little, my Mom used to watch General Hospital. Her mother got her into daytime soap operas as a fan of As the World Turns, and my grandfather would walk passed the two of them in the living room and roll his eyes. He would comment on how unbelievable the story arcs were and how dramatic the characters appeared. My grandmother would shoo him away with one simple sentence:
“You don’t know how to watch these things.”
Soap opera fans, many of whom have been watching their favorite programs for decades, have managed to hang on to a wealth of information about all of their favorite characters: everyone they’re related to, everyone they’ve slept with, how many times they’ve “died” and come back, etc.
An issue that has always plagued me as a fan of WWE in particular is how quickly story lines disappear and history is forgotten. I regularly see an outcry from fans as “canon” is repeatedly broken. (For those unfamiliar, “canon” is not a term synonymous with “kayfabe”, a wrestling term referring to the disconnect between the story lines of the wrestling characters and their real-life counterparts. “Canon” is defined as an accepted principle or rule, and usually in literature refers to a group of works or stories. In this case, the “canon” of WWE would be all of the collective stories of every character, regardless of who portrayed them.) Why would you back-reference certain plot points and story arcs but not others? Why is it that WWE for some reason believes its fan base cannot hold on to the information at the daytime TV audience can?
When Daniel Bryan returned from injury at the beginning of the year, he was put in a series of matches against Kane. There were two reasons for this, inside and outside of kayfabe, the first being that Bryan and Kane have a history together as partners and the still-not-100% Bryan probably felt comfortable working with his old tag partner. The second reason being that, in the canon of WWE, Bryan went out on injuries he sustained at the hands of Kane six months earlier. This makes sense. This is logical.
During the Fatal Four Way match at Payback this past Sunday, there was a moment where three of the participants, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and current WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins turned on their fourth opponent, Randy Orton. Momentarily, all three members of now-defunct super group The Shield were on the same page. Rollins and Ambrose lifted Orton onto Reigns’ shoulders and he was Triple Power Bomb-ed through the announce table. For a moment, the audience went crazy – their old heroes were back together. But, naturally, Ambrose and Reigns gave their turncoat brother Rollins a taste of his own medicine before coming to blows themselves. For a moment, we as an audience were reminded of exactly how Rollins got to be champ: he was part of an unbelievably successful trio of baby faces, turned on them to join the authority, was basically handed a win at Money in the Bank in 2014, and cashed in that contract at Wrestlemania 31 to gain the title.
So why is it that we can’t look further back? Or why is it these small reflections can’t be applied to wrestlers further down on the roster? Why have we never seen a repercussion of the fact that Bray Wyatt once kidnapped Kane, who returned and gave up his mask to Stephanie McMahon? That sounds like an opportunity that could have brought Kane into Wyatt’s match against Undertaker at Wrestlemania. But that’s not what happened. Instead we occasionally see Kane, as the Director of Operations, use Bray Wyatt to punish people by putting them in matches with him. That doesn’t seem like someone who was once under Bray’s control.
As WWE moves forward, it’s never a bad idea to look back and consider what has come before. Occasionally, they have set themselves up (possibly unwittingly) for something brilliant to come in the future. If you have an opportunity like that, use it to your advantage. Don’t ignore your past to build a better future.
THE LADY J “TO WATCH” LIST:
1. Lana/Rusev – I don’t think she’s really staying with Ziggler, but I am interested to see where her character goes, and where Rusev goes without her.
2. The Tag Team Division – There is a lot happening here, and each of the teams in the running are working really well, so stay tuned.
3. Kevin Owens – coming to kill your Superman, roll his title up, and smoke it.
4. Neville – between him, Barrett, Paige, and Sheamus, I think there’s a chance the UK is taking over.