So I listened to this interview that Triple H did with a Portsmouth, NH radio station that started out about a charitable organization and ended up making blood pour our of my ears.
I’m not going to BS you all. I really like Triple H. I obviously don’t know Paul Levesque the person, but I imagine the personality we see when he gives interviews, especially with an organization from his native New Hampshire and about such a great cause, falls somewhere between who he really is and his wrestling persona, but most likely closer to the real deal. (REMINDER: I hate that kayfabe isn’t a completely separate thing from real life, and if it WERE, everything I just said wouldn’t sound so strange.)
The 19 minute interview was fun to check out, and I enjoyed how comfortable he was talking with these DJs that he clearly has a rapport with. But about halfway through, he comments on all of us online fans when he says, “everybody sits on the internet and critiques it and criticizes it and armchair quarterbacks it but they don’t have 1/100th of the information that it takes to make those decisions on a daily basis.” This is where I went right over the edge.
I am certainly not going to sit here and claim that he’s wrong. He’s not. He is absolutely 100% not wrong. We, the fans, don’t have all of the information. I think his stats are hyperbolic, but sure, what the fanbase is privy to (even the people you think are insiders don’t know as much as they claim to) is a tiny fraction of what it takes to keep WWE afloat from day to day. But let’s face it, that’s because they play everything close to the chest and they always have.
“Protecting the business” is a phrase used often by industry veterans. Back when kayfabe was a legitimate concern, this meant everything. It was about honor. It was dishonorable to give anything away. The fans wanted to come to events or tune in at home and get lost in it – and back then, the boys were good at delivering that to their audience, because that’s what got them paid. Now, the fanbase takes great pride in stepping back from the product and trying to watch it through a critical eye. Part of why kayfabe has become such a problem inside the industry is because the audience has basically decimated it by trying to work inside and out of it themselves.
As a woman – as a writer – who runs a blog about pro-wrestling and WWE specifically, yes. I am part of the problem. Sometimes I do get caught up in it (I think if you read yesterday’s post you’ll see I admit to actually crying after the finish of a PPV.) But for the most part, I try to look at everything from my unique perspective – the perspective of someone who went to school for performance and creative writing. All of the training I possess is based in delivering the best possible performances and crafting the best possible stories. So yes, I become incredibly frustrated when something that I love passionately cannot rise to the standards I have spent most of my adult life studying. It’s also true that I aspire to create innovative, exciting stories for a pro-wrestling audience to get lost in. When I craft these blogs (especially posts like the one I did about fantasy-booking Becky Lynch) I try to give you all something to think about in terms of passionate and well-crafted storytelling, not just picking my favorites to go over.
But here’s where what Triple H said makes me so angry (and again, this is just me) – there’s no where to go to learn how to write for professional wrestling. If you want to be a wrestler, you go to school and train. You want to be on their writing staff, what do you do? Go to broadcasting school? Take some courses on writing for TV? Writing for pro-wrestling is not like writing for The Walking Dead or for General Hospital. Yes, it’s scripted, but there are so many other components to it. So who gets to learn how it’s done? What makes one person more worthy of being embraced by WWE? If you have talent, if you love the product, if you’re willing to learn, and you’re bringing something fresh to the table, you should be attractive to a company like WWE who has found its greatest success when it is trying to evolve. Should they be stacking creative with wrestling veterans? Maybe the creative team benefits from having people who understand the in-ring component so intimately. But at the end of the day, a television program should have writers who understand writing for the medium as well as solid basic storytelling.
When we picture the future of WWE, a future when Vince McMahon is gone and Triple H is running the business with Stephanie McMahon, what is does that landscape look like? We know who will be running the show, but a leader is only good as the people they surround themselves with. There’s a line in the TV show Sports Night where one of the characters explains what he has learned as the Managing Editor of a sports analysis program: “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” If WWE had a creative staff made up of trained writers, experience industry professionals, men and women of varying ages, the product would reflect that. Yes-men are worthless in an environment like that. Bring as many innovative people who are willing to think way outside the box together, let them argue and debate and start over and work harder, and I promise – they will give you some of the best programming WWE has ever created.
And as for Triple H – yeah, a lot of us internet dorks don’t have 1/100th of the information you do. But we’re working with what we’ve got until NXT opens a developmental program for writers. And when you do, let me know where I can sign up.