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Episode 209 - 4 Year Anniversary

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The 4 C's of Wrestling – Keeping The Kayfabe Even While Wearing A Cape And Tights by the staff at The History of Professional Wrestling

As I awoke to this very chilly February morn, I tried shaking off the utter nightmares of what wrestling has become from my immediate thoughts. This, after a lackluster TNA episode last night followed up by a myriad of twitter conversations forcing millennial fans into a Tongan death grip until they made an accurate assessment of what a classic heel is and isn't, would prove to be a more difficult task than what I had previously imagined as I scrolled through cacophony of 'click bait' styled articles filling my twitter feed. As a glimmer of hope, however, were the retweets of my thoughts upon the sport of kings and the phrase – 'I get it now' – mixed in between. So the wisdom I imparted yesterday seems to have stuck, thus validating my joy in saving the world from grave disaster.


I'm a super hero you say? Nah, it was just one or two dirt sheet writing fans who are able to see past the last 15 years of the sport as the end all, be all of what wrestling has to offer. Its not like I cured cancer. Doesn't matter, you say? And you think I am bigger than Iron Man? Well, that is very kind of you; I have been working out. But before we blow my importance out of proportion, understand that I cannot be distracted by your flattery where my never ending task as a keeper of the kayfabe, and champion of the craft goes on.

So yeah, tired, a bit hung over, and searching for my vape this morning, I heard yet another panic-stricken cry for help as I read through this woefully inaccurate scree by the person(s) behind the curtain of RosterResource ( http://www.rosterresource.com/wrestling-how-did-the-wyatt-…/ ) offered filler as legitimate content and/or commentary to an already inoculated IWC.

“Up, up, and away with you trash writers!” I said soaring into action. “Your dastardly desires to dumb down smart fans will no longer be tolerated.” I decried with balled up fist positioned on my hips in a Shane Helm's super hero power pose. “Its a new day, one where tradition and trade craft matter. You, evil villain, your words carry no weight in its incessant mewings of a petulant calf. No! You will provide context and historical comparison, thus offering your commentary credibility. Otherwise it is fluff, and you know what happens when you try eat fluff don't you? Don't you?! That's right, you choke on it. And no one wants to choke on fluff. So away with you! Come back when you have something tangible to present outside of this diatribe of conflicting discernment!”

So yeah, that right there kinda happened. Awkward, right? But let's move away from me in a cape and tights because no one, and I do mean no one, wants that mental image. So this pseudo smark has forever tied the success of the Wyatts to bad booking. Understandable, its the easy go to. It is virtually the wrestling fan's “Thanks Obama” without being potentially racist when you do it. Booking is what booking does – you push a guy for a pop, short or long term all the while taking the pulse of the fans as you make money off the draw. If it hits, you milk the shit out of it. If it doesn't, you change direction.

But here's the rub, and what the man behind the curtain over at RosterResource didn't provide – legitimate insight. Ask any former booker during the territorial days of the sport and they will tell you that booking cannot make or break a particular star. It can hurt them, sure; and it can even squash their momentum, but it can't make or break them. If they are over, they will stay over because of the 4 C's of wrestling that they bring to the table:

CONTINUITY – Make the logical progressions from A to B to C, sometimes back to A or even B, perhaps both, and then on to D. Even in the scripted age, a simple 'Yeah, he beat me, but our fight isn't over yet. I have bigger fish to fry but (insert opponent's name here), we aren't done yet' goes a long way in establishing continuity that is severely lacking in the 'Shit on the Sports' era. One of the best that achieved this was Randy Savage. That little drop in line to a promo put that beloved, and long missed asterisk at the bottom of every cardboard flier hanging on a telephone post, or hanging in the local grocery store – *Card subject to change.

CONSISTENCY – Unless you are making a role change from face to heel, heel to face, you stay consistent in your in-ring fighting style, content of promos, and overall outlook on life. Hogan, Austin, Warrior, Savage, Flair, Rhodes, Freebird, Von Erich – of all these unforgettable immortals in the sport, you knew who and what they were from the jump. There was no ambiguity to them in every facet of who and what their characters were. Why? It was repetitive without being monotonous. There were enough deviations to their characters to keep them engaging and entertaining without shitting on who and what their particular characters were.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – Build and maintain the aura surrounding your character only offering impressions of something else if and when working toward a role change. But always build the character within the established parameters of what and who that character is – 'take your vitamins, say your prayers,' etc. What is the carry over factor from one golden age to the next? The characters were larger than life embodying the struggles of the common man lifting them up in the process to demigods that forced you as a fan to want to follow the progression of their characters.

CHARISMA – Amp it up or tone it back depending on the character, but always sell the emotion in who and what you are through facial expressions, animated body language – pacing, flailing of the arms, pointing directly or indirectly to someone or something, etc. Visual cues are as impacting as any words that you could say, or don't say. Standing still while challenging an opponent has all the appeal of, and the sincerity of a Justin Beiber vs Kanye West twitter feud.

So yeah, booking matters … until it doesn't. Over the course of thirty plus years we have seen many a star rise out of bad gimmicks, bad branding, bad streaks, and a given promotion all but burying them through which. And yet somehow they didn't fade away. Rather, through all that, something happened where they either owned the characters or transitioned it into something greater. The likes of Dwayne Johnson that overcame 'Nation of Domination' Steve Austin breaking out of the 'Stunning Steve' and/or 'The Task master' personas. Dustin Rhodes as well has been recast several times over in bad gimmicks and yet found a niche within them where he could shine. Daniel Bryan, Kevin Nash (Oz), Scott Hall (Diamond Stud), Owen Hart (Blue Blazer), Brad Armstrong (Arachnaman), Kane (Dr. Issac Yankem), Regal, and Missing Link just to name a few others in regrettable and/or nearly forgettable characters that didn't let such branding kill their potential and future iconic status within the sport.

The same can easily be said about jobbing. 'Iron' Mike Sharpe, arguably one of the greats in WWE history won but maybe a handful of matches, but is memorable because he subscribed to the Ric Flair school of thought in getting over – When you go into a territory, win or lose, you are truly successful as a heel if you put a shine on the baby face, draw heat, and leave an impression on the crowd. Sharpe did this in abundance all the while etching out a notch in wrestling lore that is rightfully deserved. So, for the writer over at RosterResource that mistakingly subscribes – getting over has everything to do with winning – is a very flawed and potentially slipper slope to go down. Granted, losing consistently, or to lose even in throw away matches as Dolph Ziggler consistently does on WWE's main roster, may not help elevate someone to main event status, it doesn't exclude them from it either, nor does it in quashing their opportunities of reaching their full potential within, or through the process of adapting a given character into something more.

Some of the best examples of which would be from the NWA base territories. For as much as Lugar, Windham, Sting, Varsity Club, among others, lost in Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and Adrian Adonis in WWF, Gino Hernandez and/or Chris Adams in WCCW, each remained and sustained their billing due to who they were and how readily identifiable their characters were. Ultimately the only argument needed to correct what RosterResource would suggest through their thoughts is that for Flair to become arguably the greatest champion in wrestling lore is to lose the belt 15 times. So with that, my work here is done. Tune in next week for more spine tingling heroics, and kayfabe restoring karate! I'll see you at the matches.
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