Monday, August 4, 2014

Instant Feedback: The Script Is a Flat Circle

Ambrose has been able to break the cycle, but poor ADR...
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I read somewhere that WWE employs 30 writers on its creative staff. Thirty people. That number is staggering for a wrestling company when you first hear it, but with a roster the size of WWE's and the number of hours of television it has to produce, maybe that number isn't so high after all. However, when most of them are stuck in a time loop, then the sheer amount of manpower contained within that writers' room becomes far too girthy to support a major wrestling show. Cesaro is back to minute jobbing to put over a contender to a secondary title, this a week after he got a showcase against John Cena. Layla and Summer Rae are still spitefully torturing Fandango. Kane removed his mask again. The Dust Brothers fought Rybaxel AGAIN. Hell, Dolph Ziggler is back challenging for the fucking Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam like he was in 2009. A huge chunk of the show is held mercy to the whims of writers whose grasp of time seems to follow Rust Cohle's postulation of it just a little too quickly.

Yet, someone in the writers' room seems to have escaped the awful loop and is pushing ahead, and my assumption is that the people writing the Seth Rollins/Dean Ambrose feud have been the same ones consistently writing scenarios for The Shield since SummerSlam last year. Even then, Roman Reigns is still in the flak gear and has not evolved. The only two wrestlers who have moved forward in time are the other two members of The Shield, the guys for whom the group was to be used as a vehicle in the first place. Their beef didn't move forward in terms of narrative, but sometimes, even being stuck on a plot point can be a good place for exposition, for "stuff" to happen, so to speak.

And so it did. Triple H announced that the Ambrose/Rollins match at SummerSlam would have a stipulation, and the winner of the Beat the Clock Challenge would be the one to name it. When that tired old plot device was brought out, I groaned along with the rest of the Twitter with whom I was watching. But Ambrose and Alberto del Rio went a kayfabed 15+ minutes (more like 13, someone in the production truck got a little overzealous with the timer during the commercial break), which was unheard of in the realm of quick five minute jaunts of compressed main event action jam-packed with deus ex machina. Then Ambrose came out again for Rollins' supposed cakewalk against Heath Slater (originally Rob van Dam) and actually made the typical "WWE distraction" finish work by going over the top with it.

If select few writers can pop out of the time loop, if they can escape the cycle, then why is it so hard for enough of that same room to pop out and make at least half the show flow from a story standpoint? Obviously, no given part of any workplace is going to be consistently excellent. I could forgive low card recursion from, say, Fandango's broken love triangle, if every feud for the top five SummerSlam matches was hot, or if momentum for guys even mired in "we have nothing for you this month" losing streaks was preserved in a meaningful way. Seriously, Cesaro and Ziggler couldn't have had ten minutes to tell that same story, only more fleshed out?

But I guess the fact that WWE totally has only one story that has consistently delivered and another that has been solid in terms of build but without any likeable characters (seriously, neither Stephanie McMahon nor Brie Bella are particularly worthy of my support at this point) should be a glimmer of hope? Maybe I just put my faith too much in a corporation to be excellent overall instead of getting the status quo. But the discerning consumer should always expect the best, shouldn't he/she?