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Bryan Still Feeling Banged Up, The Fix For Reigns’ Character, Booker T DVD

Daniel Bryan Admits He’s Been Feeling Horrible

Daniel Bryan admitted in a recent interview with TalkSport in the UK, that he’s felt pretty horrible since his return because it always takes time for the body to adjust to the WWE schedule:

To be honest, I had my first two matches last week and when I got home my body felt horrible. Your body adapts to pretty much anything but when you’re not used to wrestling it’s very physically tough, not to mention the travel. Last week I did three live events, then Raw and then SmackDown so when I got home on Wednesday my body was feeling pretty beat up. Yesterday it was back to being good, I’m back to feeling mobile and my neck feels really strong – yeah, it feels good!

Booker T DVD In The Works

WWE are beginning work on a Booker T DVD and Blu-ray set. The documentary portion will explore his early life, run ins with the law, as well as his wrestling career.

Speaking of DVDs, here is the trailer for The Road Is Jericho:

How Roman Reigns Can Connect With The WWE Audience

Strictly the opinion of Editor Keelan Balderson:

WWE does not need to worry about Roman Reigns finding a deeper connection with the audience, because they’ve already solved creative’s biggest problem, and it’s on the WWE Network!

I was recently asked by a reader to review the Network but was reluctant because I already have a massive library of content on DVD and hard drives. However since UK subscribers have a 14 day cooling off period, what did I have to lose? Now I’ve got the Network I’m absolutely blown away by one original concept in particular, which is categorized in their “Original Specials” section.

For the lack of a better term they’ve produced a series of mini-documentaries, focussing on The Usos, The Shield, and Daniel Bryan. The formula basically has a camera crew follow them around for a few months, edited together with their thoughts, opinions from their family members and other superstars, building up to a big event. In the Usos case it builds to their tag title win, then there’s Bryan’s journey to Wrestlemania, and The Shield’s rise through developmental until Seth’s heel turn.

While we all have our opinions about what’s lacking from the current WWE product, for me one of the major problems is that their core programming simply does not have enough character development. They debut a new superstar, they have a gimmick, a dance, a catch phrase, and it’s never taken to the next level.

For example Adam Rose is a party guy that has a troupe of wacky followers. That’s literally all we know about him!

We don’t know his history, the circumstances that brought him to this kind of lifestyle, we don’t know where he met the bunny, we never really see what he does after matches, we simply don’t know what makes him tick and what his motivations are.

You could say the same about the Usos, but in under an hour I learned in-depth about their brotherhood, how wrestling was their last opportunity to succeed in life, why they do the tribal dance and shout Us-Ohhh, their relationship with uncle Umaga, and a hell lot more.

Unfortunately RAW couldn’t be further from this. If RAW was a television drama, it’s the pilot episode on repeat every week.

The majority of the characters on the show are superficial caricatures, not real human beings that we can relate to. That’s certainly not to say the characters should be average everyday people, but look at at some of the most popular dramas of the past few decades, like The Sopranos. Tony Soprano is a high ranking member of the Italian Mafia, but we relate to him because he suffers from anxiety, has two kids to raise, a marriage to hold together, and a group of friends that have gone to hell and back. He’s a bad ass that shoots people and commits crimes, but we care about him and we understand his motives and struggles.

Because WWE’s characters have no depth, there is no reason for us to care about them on a deeper level. Roman Reigns is bad ass, he looks cool and he has some fun moves, and that has the audience behind him to some degree, but there isn’t a deep connection because we don’t know anything about him.

Who is Erick Rowan? He’s a big guy in a sheep mask. You would think there would be a pretty elaborate story, full of childhood trauma and bizarre cult experiences with Bray Wyatt, that brought him to the point of wearing a sheep mask and entering WWE, but creative never explores that. He’s just the guy in a sheep mask.

This isn’t anything new. WWE have had the same formula for decades now. Even in the Attitude Era the characters were not necessarily any more complex than today, but that’s part of the problem. The formula is old, and long time fans have seen it all before. In fact WWE programming is so repetitive that I honestly can’t remember most of what happened over the past 10 years.

3 hours of RAW is also testing the attention span of even the most loyal of fans. And this brings me back to the Network specials.

These mini-documentaries in under an hour each, have endeared me more to Daniel Bryan, the Usos and The Shield, than their entire careers on the main WWE shows. I got to see who they are when they’re not being forced to cut a “promo”, or Michael Cole is blithering some buzzword to try and get them over.

I learned where they came from, what their motivations are, and what they’re like as people, and for the most part their backstage personalities fit perfectly with the characters they play on TV, and more importantly make those characters more believable. As seen on the Shield special Seth Rollins was extremely confident when he came to developmental, so much so that Terry Taylor almost wanted to fire him. He thought he was already good enough to be called up to the main roster and refused to take Taylor’s advice. In a make it or break it meeting with Triple H, he promised to play ball and in a short amount of time Triple H brought him to the main roster.

He came across a little bit like an arrogant prick, and Triple H protected him. That fits perfectly with the Authority storyline and explains why Triple H was right there for him when he turned on the Shield. No doubt some of this was hammed up for the camera, and this is what makes these specials soooo good! They have the perfect mix of real behind the scenes footage, without breaking kayfabe in any significant way. This is what character development could be like if the formula for RAW was tweaked.

People always say the most successful wrestlers are usually just portraying their real life personality with the dial turned up. Then what better way to create successful characters than to stick a camera on the wrestlers when their real personality is coming through? What better way to get insight in to somebody’s life than to ask their mother, siblings and childhood friends what they were like growing up? What better way to learn why a wrestler is in WWE, than to chart their developmental career and their desire to succeed?

RAW is 3 hours long! There’s no reason why each week they can’t focus on one superstar and air a mini documentary in snippets throughout the show, in the same style as those on the WWE Network. What do they have to lose? Why does wrestling have to be presented in the same exact way for decades? There are clearly other ways to get characters over other than cutting a promo or wrestling a match.

By all accounts Roman Reigns is a pretty sharp, well humored and laid back guy backstage, and the Shield and Usos special gave us some good insight in to his heritage and football days. Instead of sitting him in a chair and asking awkward questions or forcing him to recite nursery rhymes, follow him around for a few weeks and let his real personality shine through!

One thing I’ve never quite understood with WWE, is that they’ll over script promos, but they won’t produce pre-taped segments and video packages with any thought. If a wrestler can’t talk, spend some time and present them in a different way. They did the post-produced sitdown interview with Brock Lesnar, where he talked about Cena being left in blood and piss and vomit, so why can’t they do that for everyone else?

UFC does a brilliant job of capturing the drama and their fighter’s personalities, and they don’t do scripted promos in the Octagon.

The answer to the Roman Reigns question has already been answered, and they don’t even realise it.

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