GREEN BAY, WI, USA – Despite what some fans, pundits, and wrestlers would have you believe, wins and losses do matter in pro wrestling.
But first, let me set the paradox: win-loss records don’t matter. The numbers really don’t. Except for some certain situations – like the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak – they aren’t statistics and figures you can pull up and make matter when you hype a match.
Due to wrestling’s nature, the number of times someone like, say, the Big Show has KOed opponents on RAW won’t matter as much as the number of times Manny Pacquiao has done the same. The statistics do not matter in a scripted sport.
What does make a difference, however, is the act of winning and losing. Actual results are plot devices, for it is the result that drives narratives forward and molds characters. Fans complain when the wrestlers they like lose, because those losses are actually a manifestation of the company’s intended narrative.
The company is saying that they don’t want this guy or that guy to win – and it’s for that same reason fans are happy the wrestlers they like win, because a win says these guys matter. They recognize these guys matter.
The way a wrestler wins or loses also figures into this perception. Fans recognize the distinction between strong and weak wins and losses, and often know which plot device is appropriate for a certain scenario.
I bring this all up this week because it’s pretty distressing to witness Bray Wyatt’s current career trajectory. The guy is in limbo, but the WWE doesn’t seem to be aware of this – they think it’s okay for him to come out and try to keep being this monster we and his peers should be trembling before, this “new face of fear,” even though he hasn’t defeated any of the big names he’s been paired up against, with the exception of Chris Jericho, who doesn’t really count anymore because he now appears every now and then to put the young blood over.
Now, Wyatt is set to feud with Ryback, whom a win over could give his profile a much-needed boost.
It’s clear that they’re applying the Undertaker formula on Wyatt: have him dominate the feud psychologically so that he appears fearsome and not so weak after the inevitable loss. Before Undertaker was relegated to a WrestleMania match a year, he theoretically didn’t need to win anymore – even if he continued to – due to his iconic status.
The problem with this formula is that Taker built up an entire career of prestige; Wyatt hasn’t done that yet, and he needs to do so by credibly taking down his big targets. Who would believe you as an icon of fear if challengers can easily defeat you unfazed?
Wyatt needs to start leaving a trail of bodies, and fast.
- Despite the next-to-zero promotion, all of the King of the Ring (KOTR) quarterfinal matches were well-done. Each match was contested believably and was a good midcard showpiece. Also can’t complain about almost all the results in this round.
- Kane’s slow-burn turn is going at the right pace. If it were anyone else in any other storyline (see: Damien Mizdow) we’d all be complaining about how slow it’s going, but since Seth Rollins is all tied up with his contenders as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the teases every week get to stay behind the world title feuds and mature at its own pace. Once Rollins gets as far as he could with Randy Orton and Roman Reigns, Kane will (or should) turn at exactly the right moment for them to finally feud.
- On one hand, it’s nice that decent lowercarders like Adam Rose and Fandango get some RAW time, but on the other hand, do we really need to see this in a laborious three-hour show? I wouldn’t want serviceable undercard matches to be forever doomed to the hell that is Superstars, but crowd reactions for these things also need to be gauged and applied accordingly.
- JBL kept comparing Dean Ambrose to Aerys the Mad from Game of Thrones should he win King of the Ring. That couldn’t be further from the truth, JBL: if Stardust won KOTR, he’d be the Aerys of this Westeros.
- I’m not going to call this a low blow, but I’m not sure it’s a high spot either: where does Damien Sandow go from here? Sincere personalities almost always go over big in the WWE environment, especially in a sea of forced, artificial characters, but it seemed like nobody knows what to do with just-Damien-Sandow. His promo was heartfelt, but felt slightly confusing as it blurred the line between what happened backstage and what happened to his career in kayfabe. He says he’s his own man now, but his interaction with Curtis Axel was him playing off his old stunt double character and imitating him, making him seem juvenile. He seems to be taking Daniel Bryan’s gimmick while he’s gone, and while that’s not a bad thing, I’ll have to wait and see where Damien Sandow goes with this.
- If I’m Dean Ambrose, how is my next feud not against Dolph Ziggler? I don’t care what happened to him earlier in the night and his vendetta against Sheamus, that guy still cost me my shot at being King of the Ring. WWE is terrible at writing and following up implications and consequences for people’s actions, and it’s making a lot of their characters look weak, awkward, and off. (See: Cena, John.)
- On that note, still no updates on why the Bellas seem to be face now. This cannot keep happening.
- The entire roster, save for the KOTR contenders, seemed tired tonight. It doesn’t help when the writing is so lazy and uninspired.
- I don’t know what it was, but the bulk of the main event was so slow and sleepy. These match-ups have long been tired.
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