WWE: A Few Thoughts on the Creative Elements of the Shows

John StebbinsCorrespondent IApril 20, 2011

To whoever's hiring the new writers at the WWE:

It's recently come to my attention that the WWE is looking for new writers. Thank God. Lately, as I've been watching Raw or Smackdown, it seems the creative element of the shows has gone stale and predictable, or just plain illogically unbelievable.

While I hold a journalism degree, I lack the 3-5 years minimum of broadcast TV writing experience that the WWE is looking for.

Given the recent cancellation of "All My Children," I think the WWE will not find a lack of candidates that meet the required qualifications, although the idea of AMC writers taking over RAW does seem temporarily entertaining.

That's the interesting thing about the WWE. As sports entertainment, both Raw and Smackdown have to incorporate a degree of fictional drama.

We like watching sports like football, even violent sports like boxing and MMA, but with the WWE, we need to see more of why they fight rather than just the demonstration of athletic skill.

And that's what's been lacking. We see characters like the Miz and Cena, but they don't seem to do anything but talk trash over the WWE belt. And some others feuds have had their non-belt reasons, like the feud between Cody Rhodes and Rey Mysterio.

However, Rhodes's shame over losing his vanity is not a reason we can either root for or against him. It makes Rhodes into someone we want to go away, while making us feel sorry for Mysterio that he's got to deal with him.

We see character chemistry, like we did with the "romance" between Dolph Ziggler and (gag) Vickie Guerrero, but knowing that it started when she was the SmackDown GM and he was just getting a (thick) leg up in the company, the thread leaves us all wondering "Why?"

Seriously, all those divas can't swoop in and "save" him from that? No woman has ever ruffled another woman's feathers by stealing the attention of her man, right?

And that's just one example of how head-shakingly nonsensical many of these plot elements can be. Your "characters" just aren't acting in ways that your fans can sympathize with.

Injuries are also a different bird in the WWE. In pro sports, you simply play on with inferior talent, as the plot lines are free to make themselves.

On the flip side, injuries don't really happen that often in dramatic television, much less live TV. As many shows have "bibles" with their story arcs, a well-conceived plot arc that relies on one wrestler too much can simply be destroyed by injury much more than it can on other shows. The contingencies must be mind-boggling...or at least the improvisation is.

Recently we saw the "heel turn" of R-Truth, but we didn't see one of John Cena. I know there's a lot of forces behind that latter one. Cena's the most-requested Superstar for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Don't want to ruin that, do ya?

It's not like the WWE's got a reputation for a squeaky-clean image. But, it IS overdue, which means something's gotta get done.

Underneath it all, it adds up to the same thing: If you're going to add out-of-ring reasons why the match is set up, the reasons need to be either less obvious and more complex, or they need to make more sense.

Raw's network, USA, advertises that characters are welcome. Good. Then take the chance to actually develop characters by displaying your superstars' characteristics to their flaws and strengths.

That which makes great faces also makes great heels. Push the virtues until they become flaws as you push the sins until they exhibit something you can sympathize with.

The last few years have almost seen a middle-ground be established between face and heel. I think that can be exploited on a creative level.

Perfect example? Triple H. He really doesn't care if you like him. And certainly, his character's not out there fighting for any cause other than himself, but you can't really hate him, either.

The pops he gets are simply from the respect he's earned over the years. It's almost he's an anti-heel. And, logically, can't you come up with an anti-face? (Psst! If you think about it, there's already one on the roster).

Another ongoing issue I see with the WWE is an overabundance of talent and a lackluster use of it. I see two, maybe three, ways of fixing this.

First, you can drop a bunch of talent. Make the shows A-listers only. However, that will limit creative options. Also, it will leave unemployed talent out there to compete with you. Don't need that.

Second, you can create more stables and tag teams. The state of stables and tag teams has been almost depressing.

While they can get out of hand (see N.W.O.), they can also be used effectively to develop fresh talent while giving other stars air time while not being in the ring (see Evolution).

If you find tag-team chemistry anywhere, use it. The tag-team format has been underutilized long enough.

And the women's division? Man, I don't even want to go there. In some cases, Michael Cole is right when he interrupts a match asking if it can simply end.

Now, if they hire the former "All My Children" writers, I'm sure they can get the women into the script somehow.

But if you don't, I think the character development of the Diva's division as a whole has been even more lackluster than some of the matches they've had in the past year.

Lastly, I think the time has come once again for the manager to return. The way Michael Cole champions certain stars with all the journalistic objectivity of an oil company PR shill, he's turning into the next Bobby "The Brain" Heenan; capable of filling in on the microphone and pushing stars without the necessary mic skills.

The aforementioned Guerrero could also be a fine fit as a manager, as she can be officially biased with her favorites.

Well, that's just a thought or two about that.

Good luck in your hiring.

P.S. Just like everybody else, I have more of my own ideas, but since I'm not qualified to be a writer, what's the point in sharing them?