by Daniel Stockwell - September 09, 2013
From a genre perspective, wrestling is quite a unique beast. Rarely in other forms of performance, do you have the opportunity to see characters and storylines that incorporate different mediums. Granted, in film and television, you have many examples of Romance or Horror being interweaved with comedy. Film in particular has been known to incorporate elements from different areas of fiction but in most cases, you can still break it down into a combination of just two, such as the aforementioned Horror Comedy. Wrestling however combines multiple elements to create its ongoing fiction – characters such as The Undertaker and Kane are modelled with horror influences, comedic characters and storylines have proven over the years to be a success and romance has been incorporated on multiple occasions. Furthermore, you can see examples whereby political drama, conspiracy drama and family drama exist. Interestingly, the industry combines all these elements to create a fiction which they portray as real. Fictional characters are allowed to exist because we as a spectator know it is simply entertainment. Wrestling on the other hand, is perceived as a real competitive sport between the world’s best athletes and hence needs to provide characters that are realistic enough for us to relate to and want to see succeed.
An argument could be made that during the 80’s – many wrestlers became particularly unrealistic and cartoonish. However, when you consider some of the performers, they weren’t too far removed from themselves. In fairness, the internet was yet to reach the masses and kayfabe was still closely upheld, but had we known that Hulk Hogan actually was a loud and obnoxious egomaniac or that the Ultimate Warrior really was bat-shit crazy, could it have changed our perception on the era? Personally, I feel the cartoon like qualities of the product in that era were confused with simply being colourful.
Cartoon-like characters became more prevalent in the early to mid 90’s but in most instances, the characters were modelled after people present in everyday life – Ted DiBiase as a wealthy millionaire or The Undertaker as a Mortician. The instances whereby a character was obviously a work of fiction produced terrible results with Mantaur, Max Moon and Papa Shango frequently cited as horrible moments in history. As a fan, we require a certain level of believability to connect to the men in the ring. Robocop, The Yeti and The Zombie would have never worked in the long run, because they went against that notion and ultimately, we would have never related to them.
Paul Heyman, has discussed in the past that he wanted to market Kevin Thorn and Ariel as two individuals obsessed with the Vampire Craze of the time. With Twilight and True Blood garnering mass interest, this particular character could have worked exceedingly well as young teens worldwide were obsessed with Edward Cullan and Sookie Stackhouse. Therefore, relating to these two young stars would have been relatively easy to do so.
With Kevin Thorn and Ariel, the company could have implemented all the theatricality we associate with Vampire Fiction whilst keeping the performers grounded in reality, similar to how The Brood were presented years prior. Likewise, with The Brood, they were never portrayed as actual vampires but rather men obsessed with a gothic lifestyle and vampirism, a trait frequently highlighted by the announce team. When The Brood stepped into the ring to be interviewed by Michael Hayes, he wasted no time in pointing out that the trio were simply using a gimmick to get over with the fans. This was neither confirmed nor denied by the group who maintained that they simply were who they were.
Regardless of whether the character was created as a middle finger to SyFy, who supposedly requested characters that match their other programming, The Zombie was a WWECW atrocity. Kevin Thorn was initially portrayed as a Vampire but this aspect of his character was downplayed over time. Had the WWE continued to promote Thorn as such, he could’ve easily joined the aforementioned.
Kevin Thorn wasn’t given much time to shine in the company. Nevertheless, the Thorn character is an example of how an outlandish could be used in the product, whilst maintaining that essential link to reality. The Brood were allowed such time and became a successful entity within the fiction. Unlike Thorn however, they were not a representation of current social trends.
I happened to watch the second Twilight movie at the cinema. The movie itself was appalling but I’ve always been able to stomach such things. Had a friend asked me to join them to watch another instalment, based on the movie alone, I may have. However, in attendance at said theatre were incredibly expressive and quite frankly, very annoying teenagers. This younger audience made sure that Twilight 2 was the worst movie going experience of my lifetime. Kevin Thorn and Ariel could have easily been amongst that crowd.
Kevin Fertig has since acknowledged that the ball was dropped with the Kevin Thorn and Ariel characters, and the WWE had an amazing opportunity to capitalize on Vampire Fad of the time. I agree.
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Thanks for reading Talking Theatrics. If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to share them – I’m quite open to ideas on how to improve also. The following was posted on Wrestling-Edge.com, so I’ll be more inclined to respond there.
Also, I have set up a Facebook Page which you can contact me on – like the page for updates on future articles. Here’s the link – https://www.facebook.com/talkingtheatrics
Until NXT Time…
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