WWE Heroes and Friendship

Two weeks ago on the International Object podcast K. Paul Sawyer made a comment about how Bobbie Roode did not have any friends when he celebrated having the longest title run in TNA history. He was in the right all alone when the drank champagne and was showered with confetti. 

This got me thinking something I mentioned on the International Object podcast today.  None of the top good guys in the WWE have any friends.  They have colleagues but no friends.

Lets take a look:

John Cena: has no peers in the WWE.  He is above everyone.  It is hard for him to have a friendship when he lords over everyone.

CM Punk: is a guy who turns microphones into pipe bombs.  His only friend is truth.  He would never rely on another person in the WWE.

Randy Orton: is the viper, Apex Predator, the kind of guy who does not have friends.  I am not sure Randy Orton has hand any friends his whole time in the WWE. Even when he was in Evolution and Legacy his stable mates where not his friends.

Sheamus: He is a big Irish guy who likes to fight and he tells everyone never trust a hooligan.  You ran out to save John Cena a few weeks ago on Raw, but that might have been just done that so he could knock over his boss.

Christian: His only friend retired.  He has not been a good guy long enough to make any other friends.  

I think the highest level good guy on the WWE roster that has any friends is Santino Marella.  That might be because he is a goofy guy that no one sees as a threat.  

The question becomes what is a friend in the world of Professional Wrestling.  The first thing that comes to mind is someone that will run out of the locker room to make a save during a beat down.  This is the easiest way to do it, but it might not be the best way to tell the story.  First the guy making the save might be doing it because he hates the bad guy, not likes the good guy.  It can also get in the way of the hero having to overcome overwhelming odds.  

In drama friendship is shown through sacrifice.  You are not really a friend unless you are willing to give something up.  Let me ask you some questions about faces in the WWE.
  • Would any wrestler turn down a title shot if they had to betray John Cena to get it?
  • Would any WWE good guy title holder put his title on the line to save a friend?
  • Would any WWE hero choose defending a friend over getting revenge?
  • Would any WWE good guy risk getting fired to keep another wrestler on the roster?
  • Would any WWE hero vouch for a friend even if it put their reputation on the line?

These are the acts of real friends.  These are the moments where there audience can emotional invest in the friendship.  That investment is very important.  I really think no one cared about Big Show turning on John Cena, because no one was invested in their relationship, not the other wrestlers, not the characters, and not the fans.  

I think the root of this issue has to do with the WWE being a workplace drama.  Since the era of the Montreal Screwjob the WWE has been a workplace drama.  Over the last 15 years the workplace drama theme has emerged again and again.  We have even seen the idea of the boss facing being fired by their boss.  It has been the theme for so long you can say it has been over done.

One of the key parts of most work place dramas is the lack of opportunists. Every promotion limits the number of people who can make it to the next level.  There is a top level in the WWE.  Only one person can hold the WWE title.  This means that others must fail for you to get ahead.  In the story they show that title shots are incredibility valuable.  It would be a create sacrifice for any man or woman to put friendship above the chance to win a title.  

The odd thing is that this is all subtext.  There is really little on screen about this type of conflict.  I think you could tell some interesting stories if all of the heroes are paranoid of the actions of the other heroes.  I this would take some of the heat off the villains.  There are some TV shows and novels where there are no heroes only protagonists.  I would love to see that in wrestling, but I am not sure the fans would really like it.

I was watching the Bret Hart v. Shawn Michaels video via Netflix Streaming (on my Roku). Bret talked about how when he came back to the WWF after his Post-Wrestlemania 12 hiatus, he did not "Put Over" Shawn Michaels on the mic.  Both Bret and Shawn were faces at the time.  Prior to this in the WWF all faces would put each other over in interviews and promos. What Bret ended up doing was splitting the audience.  Some were rooting for him and some where rooting for Shawn. 

I wonder if this is the roots of the lack of friends in the WWF/WWE.  People don't put over other faces in the WWE anymore.  I cannot tell you the last time a face just put another face over without being involved in the same feud. I could be forgetting something.  I am not sure he WWE even gives people a chance to do this anymore. (It is totally possible this has happened recently and I was not playing attention.)

In a smaller promotions I think it is easier for heroes to show friendship.  The heroes can have the shared value of the health and survival of the promotion.  I think it is easy to let heroes sacrifice for something bigger then them.  The problem is WWE wrestlers are never worried about the survival of the company in the Monopoly Era.  

There is nothing wrong with none of the top WWE Fan Favorites having friends.  I think it is a valid story telling choice.  It just limits the other stories you can tell.  People will have less invested in heel turns on heroes if all they never were really friends in the first place.

I want to thank Star of Savage and Jason Mann for their input on this topic after the last podcast.  I would love to hear what other people think. 


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