TNA iMPACT! This week, I was reminded by a comment Lance Storm, a former WWE wrestler, made several months back. Storm stated that there was a difference in wrestling stories and angles. Storm made the comment in reference to a WWE promotion at the time. However, it is applicable to all wrestling promotions.
Storylines vs. Angles
It is quite easy to understand. A storyline is a sequence of events that takes place What sports between two or more characters during a series of shows. The wrestling angle, on the other side, builds to a climax within the wrestling ring.
Although the difference may seem small, it is huge when you look at how WWE and TNA approached their stories recently.
Both companies have been guilty of creating storylines that do not lead to real wrestling matches in recent months. TNA’s use Earl Hebner as a character in a storyline that sees him battling Larry Zbyszko or Slick Johnson is the most obvious. The storyline is not conclusive because none of the three characters are active wrestlers.
My problem is due to Vince McMahon’s re-definition wrestling in to Sports Entertainment. This was initiated by his former World Wrestling Federation. McMahon has taken great care to distinguish the product he offers from traditional wrestling federations.
WWE is the dominant force within the wrestling industry and its rebranding has had an inevitable knock-on effect upon every other wrestling promotion. Their competitors were forced to follow the same principles that made WWE so popular in order to be able to compete with them.
There was no one left to try to bring things back to a traditional format based on sports events. The result was a steady slide towards televised drama instead of presenting wrestling matches.
Soap Opera For Men
This has led to a shift in the focus of the shows over the past decade. As we spend more time presenting a “soap opera” for men, fewer matches are shown.
This means that wrestling angles are less important. In fact, many matches we get feel more like a background to the storyline than an exclamation point. This lack of focus on the core product (calling it what you will, but it’s still a wrestling show) comes with its own costs.
Reviewers have complained about the lack of “sizzle” in recent WWE and TNA TV PPVs. Even though the matches are announced as big deals, they don’t seem to bring that home.
Why would anyone pay for the chance to see the final match between two wrestlers when it is not the culmination of weeks of booking but a brief pause before they get back to exchanging witty reparteee?