Wrestling, Sports, and Narrative

There is a connection between Pro Wrestling and Pro Sports. I know that Pro Wrestling is scripted and predetermined. (I would never call pro wrestling fake, calling anything where people break their neck and get seriously injured fake just does not seem right to me.) I know that the key feature of sports is the nature that anything can happen. Teams compete for the outcome and everything else comes along after that.

Much of what happens with sports is the narrative imposed on the events that lead up that that result. What I mean by imposed on it, I mean sport writers, analysts, pendants, talk show hosts, and fans trying to come up with meaning for what happened and why it happened. The narratives are all over the place. This player did not prepare in the offseason, that player is injured, this player is a cancer in the club house, that player is too focused on endorsements, this player is too soft, that player cannot perform in the clutch.

Baseball is a sport that has so many players, each doing multiple things that impact the game. It is hard to pin down why a team is not winning. One player cannot do it alone. This leads to fans to try to create a simple narrative for complex events.

If you look at the NFL draft, it is the perfect conditions for people to create narratives for what is going on. For weeks people try to predict how teams will act in the draft. Even when there is little to no news, there is a thrust for coverage. Fans want to hear from experts what they think. Right after the draft every team gets a grade, even though the out come of the draft might not be able to be determined for two years after the fact.

This is where wrestling sits in-between sports and fiction. People who try to create this narrative about wrestling, don't really think about the scripted nature. They look at the sports nature. They look at the people who are behind the scenes and the power struggles about how to put on a show. The bloggers, youtubers, and dirt sheet writers are making a narrative about the people creating the show and not the characters.

When I read people write about Mad Men, Game of Thrones, or Community, people write about the characters, the plot, and what the writers are trying to comment on. I read commentary about why Don Draper or Rodger Sterling acted a certain way, not how John Hamm or John Slattery struggle for control of the characters. I read some reviews of an actor being up for the material, but I read more about the material itself.

I want to see more criticism of the stories and plots in wrestling. I want to hear about the goals of the performers and if those performers achieve those goals. I want people to break down the stories and look for meaning. I want people to examine the motifs of a story and the subtext.

A lot of what goes on in wrestling is because of that goes on back stage, but I am no longer interested in those things. I want to hear about the stories they are telling without hearing about the real people. I think the conversation about art moves artforms forward. I feel that those conversations are not going on enough. Most of the people talking about wrestling do not reflect about the art at all.

For the major promotions, shaking the idioms of sports is hard. My experience is that many wrestling fans are sports fans. In sports you have to impose narrative on what is happening. There is no story about a pitcher facing a batter without the audience adding the story. Wrestling is a place where the story can be provided to the audience by the providers. The audience is so use to imposing that narrative in sports we end up doing it in wrestling also.

It is easy for football fans to think about what happens for the 165 hours between games. I think wrestling fans thinking about the 166 hours between Raws might be doing us a disservice.


Popular Posts