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The WWE: Soap Opera for Boys

April 25, 2012

A year ago, if you had told me that I would soon become a fan of professional wrestling, I would have choked on my breakfast cereal.  Long-haired behemoths grunting and slamming into each other as their sweat sprayed the faces of the front row audience members did not, for some reason, appeal to me.  I much preferred going to the ballet or watching a Meg Ryan movie.  However, my boyfriend was a childhood WWF fan, and he made it his mission to convince me that I should be a fan too.  And lo and behold, it turns out that he is right.  The WWE is spectacular, and I would like to share what I now know about it with all of you who are not yet fortunate enough to be following this extraordinary institution.

My boyfriend first explained it to me as follows: “Professional wrestling is like a soap opera for boys.”  When I heard the words “soap opera,” I was immediately intrigued, and so I started asking him all kinds of questions about the wrestlers and their story lines.

Here’s the basic run-down: all the fighting in the WWE and in other similar organizations is completely fake.  (But just to make it clear: the moves that are performed, even in this staged wrestling, require an immense amount of athleticism.)  And because the wrestling is fake, this means that there is a lot of acting going on, and the acting is nothing short of superb!  The most fun part is that the wrestlers actually fight in character.

As in any good soap opera, there are good guys (faces) and bad guys (heels).  The good guys are sweet to children, say nice things about America, and always fight fair.  The bad guys, on the other hand, cheat in almost every single match and do lots of other bad things as well, ranging from simple cowardice to full out nefariousness.  Needless to say, the bad guys are the most fun.

My favorite bad guy, Ted DiBiase, also known as the Million Dollar Man, is retired, but his character was one of the best ever created.  He was a money-hungry business tycoon who insisted that “everyone has a price.”  He would buy people off with a few of his always-handy hundred-dollar bills.  In one video, he payed off a pool manager to kick all the children out of a public swimming pool on a hot summer day so that he could recline on a pool chair in peace without having to listen to “the little brats.”  Another time, he offered a small boy in the audience $500 if he could bounce a basketball 15 times in a row, only to kick the ball away from the child just as he got to his 14th bounce.

My only beef with the WWE (and I do enjoy it immensely) is that, though they do a wonderful job developing the characters of their male wrestlers, they do not put much effort into doing this for the female wrestler characters.  Female wrestlers in the WWE tend to look a bit like very athletic Playboy bunnies, whereas the male wrestlers (though some of them could pose for an Abercrombie photo shoot) tend to be chosen more for their acting and microphone skills.  The male wrestlers have an almost endless assortment of character-types to choose from: there are cowboys, rappers, brains (always bad guys), all-American boys, gangsters, punks, vain primpers, guys obsessed with death, psychotic guys, stereotypes from almost every different country, etc., etc.

The female characters tend to be either prissy or bitchy (which, in fairness, can be pretty funny sometimes).  There are a couple of noteworthy female characters in professional wrestling worth mentioning.  My favorite is the ODB (Old Dirty Bitch).  She is a large and uncouth woman who grunts a lot and smashes beer cans on her head as she enters the ring.  As she prepares to fight, she pounds her boobs menacingly with her fists.  She is almost always matched against a prim, prissy, beautifully-manicured woman in high heels and a bikini who inevitably looks at the ODB in disgust until the ODB knocks her senseless.  Needless to say, the ODB is a crowd favorite.

The WWE has a funny manager character named Vickie Guerrero who is a huge cheater and is impressively shrill and annoying, doing a wonderful job of alienting the entire audience to the point where they love nothing more than to boo her off the stage every time she opens her mouth.

But besides these two, to my knowledge, the female characters are a little cardboard, and I think that the WWE is missing out on a wonderful economic opportunity here.

Now I do understand that a “bra and panties” match does have some appeal for the average WWE fan, but imagine how much more scintillating it would be if the women attempting to rip one another’s clothing off were at the same time engaged in a wildly exciting and character-revealing dialogue.

For example, how about the following?:

Britney Vader: [making wind-tunnel-esque breathing noises behind her black plastic helmet] You will not remove my robes!  For they cling to my body with the power of the Dark Side.

Cowgirl Cammi: Listen, little lady, I ain’t got time for them there robes!  I got to get them dogies in ‘fore the sun sets on ’em.  Them thangs get spooked when that sun goes down, speakin’ of the dark side.  [Lassos Britney Vader around the helmet, causing her to spin out of control and causing her robes to fall off.  The audience roars as Cammi is declared victor.]

The possibilities are endless!

So, in conclusion, I am offering myself to the WWE as a writer for their next Pay-Per-View event.  If they’re looking for good soap opera, I am a soap opera expert, and I’ll give them a “bra and panties” match like they’ve never seen before!

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