WWE: Triple H Throws out the Scripts
For the last few years, most WWE stars have sounded very generic. There hasn't been much of a difference in personality on either side of the face/heel spectrum. Faces generally sound the same, as do heels. Faces are happy, positive, aw-shucks types that want to have a good time. Heels are all big talking cowards. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but those are few and far between.
Much of the reason for this persistent mediocrity was the presence of scripts. Road agents and writers on the creative staff literally wrote scripts for the characters to recite in the ring. This is difficult for the wrestlers because many of them aren't experienced stage performers, the scripts were quite vanilla in order to require minimal range. There is also the presence of a live crowd which often calls for improvisation on the wrestler's behalf. He or she needs to recognize the crowd response and react appropriately. If they are sticking strictly to a script, it gives them little leeway.
Triple H is making more changes behind the scenes in WWE. He has started to do away with word-for-word scripts, and instead is teaching the developmental talents how to work with bullet points. This allows each talent to learn how to speak as their character and rely more on their own creative ability instead of reading what someone else wrote for them. WWE used to do this with their talent, to allow the talent to build their characters as well as to allow them to grow more naturally.
For many fans, this is exciting news. As longtime fans of wrestling, we long for the days of Roddy Piper, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin and The Rock shooting from the hip in the ring. Given a set of bullet points, they understood the message they sought to deliver and worked their way there through an understanding of their characters.
Many people, most notably Jim Ross, have frequently stated that the best characters in wrestling are those in which the performer takes a part of their individual personality and turns it on full-blast. Since most WWE superstars are in-ring wrestlers first and actors second, it's easier for them to channel their own individuality and amplify a part of their persona than to take on an entirely different character. This is what allows the audience to connect with them more authentically. There are also exceptions to this rule. Obviously, Kane and the Undertaker aren't demons or zombies, for example.
Moving to an unscripted promo puts the pressure of getting over with the crowd during a promo on the backs of the wrestler. It forces the individual to think critically about the character, the storyline and the segment. They will take greater ownership of all three when they feel truly part of the creative process, rather than just a vessel of the writing team.
This is a great move by Triple H, who is giving the wrestlers more of a chance to stand out and relinquishing some creative control that was once held solely by the writing staff and Vince McMahon.
I'll be listening more closely to promos from now on to see where we begin to see a shift on the voice of the wrestlers and how they will react to this new responsibility. We'll also see which sink and which swim in the unscripted environment.
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