It’s All About Hype
Characterization is the key to the success of professional wrestling in American culture and its continuing rise in popularity throughout the years. As rating wars continue between the predominant companies in the sport (WWF and WCW), characters have become more innovative. The fans are treated to greater thrills and spectacles in the squared circle.
The first element of character development is a decision of alignment, in other words, being a good guy or a bad guy. This is also subject to change throughout the wrestler’s career, depending on the fans reactions and the needs of the company. The most recent drastic character change is transformation of the immortal Hulk Hogan to the sleazy darkside thus becoming Hollywood Hogan.
Once the decision of alignment has been make, the next step is to create a gimmick that will stay fresh in the minds of the fans and endear the wrestler to the fans. Sometimes it is necessary for the wrestler to try quite a few gimmicks before coming across the “goldmine.” This was the case with the man now known as Stone Cold Steve Austin. Before adopting his no nonsense working many attitude, Austin attempted to be the glamour boy as a member of the tag team, Hollywood Blondes. After that failed to charm fans, Austin tried the “million dollar” approach epitomize in the ’80s by Ted Dibiase. Then came, “I just whipped you ass,” which is now simply known as “Austin 3:16.” Fans began to identify with Austin’s beer drinking, trash talking attitude. Not only did he begin to talk the talk but walk the walk as well.
The final key to great characterization is the creation of the perfect nemesis. Just like in the movies, every great hero needs a great villain. Sometimes already existion characters battle each other, however most often, new characters are created to battle one another. This is exemplified in the creation of the NWO to combat characters of the already existion WCW. The New World Order was the perfect foil to the predominantly “good guy” roster of the WCW. This collection of athletes were determined to distroy all tradition in the sport of professional wrestling and mounted their attack as such. They laughed in the face of all authority and broke any rules they felt blocked their progress to gain championship title(s).
In conclusion, each wrestler wants to be remembered by the fans so each man must create either a character the fans love or one they love to hate. Whichever path chosen by the wrestler it is certain that the character will continue to evolve and adapt to the changes in today’s society. Characterization still remains important to the success of pro wrestling because it is all about hype.