by Nate Dimit
Everybody knows that professional wrestling is fake and scripted and that the WWE is mostly targeted towards children and casual fans. Their take on “sports entertainment” is generally designed to appeal to a large demographic. I approach pro-wrestling the same way I would a Kung Fu movie or a comic book: I want the good guy to win and the fight scenes to be over the top.
As a hardcore fan, I’m very accustomed to the peaks and valleys of being sports entertained. The emotional highs are unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced in any other media outlet and the lows make for some of the worst attempts at acting and lowbrow humor ever put to film. WWE is very skilled at crafting the story of a triumphant underdog, while in the same show featuring fart jokes and Kid Rock. They also have a flair for nostalgia and bringing back fond memories of a prior era. This wrestling-as-theatre extravaganza excelled in each of these areas.
With the WWE Network (their own Netflix-esque streaming service) not producing the number of subscribers they had hoped for, as well as the cannibalization of their pay per view revenue, WWE offered a free month of their network including this show. With a free show on the line and potential customers to try and bring in, WWE had to deliver with this show in a big way.
The show’s main storyline centered around the war between Team Authority – the group of Stephanie McMahon, her husband Triple H and their henchmen – versus Team Cena, the group of heroes seeking to put an end to their tyrannical reign. Their battle was set to culminate in a main event 5-on-5 elimination tag team match, with stipulations set that if Team Authority loses, the Authority (Steph and Trips) are out of executive power and if Team Cena loses the match, 4 out of 5 members would be fired from WWE. Their explanation was that John Cena would keep his job since he moves product and merchandise and makes the WWE a lot of money. It’s an easy storyline to keep up with and to get viewers invested into the battle of good versus evil. You want the good guys to win so they will stop being held down in the company. You want the bad guys to lose because you’re sick of them running the show as they selfishly please. On a personal level, story lines come second to me after the in-ring action. In professional wrestling, these stories and their ensuing feuds between characters can start anywhere and anytime. Some feuds go on for months and take lots of twists and turns to tell the story while some can come and go in a week.