Decline of the Republic – The Professional Wrestling Stage, pt 1: The Storyline

A few weeks ago it occurred to me that the current election (about to end tomorrow) could best be understood in terms of Professional Wrestling.

Quick reminder: The classic form of American Professional Wrestling* (as opposed to Mexican Lucha Libre or Japanese Puroresu – the other two main schools) has a heel (bad guy) fighting against a face (good guy). The result in terms of who won and how (aka the finish) was predetermined, though much of the rest of the match was figured out on the spot by one wrestler calling a move or sequence of moves in the ring.

Anyhoo, the lifebood of PW was the feud a long-running conflict between a particular babyface and heel. The storyline of a particular feud was mapped out over months and meant to drive fans’ emotions into peaks of frustrated rage (heel keeps winning) vs final catharsis in the payoff (when the face finally definitively wins before beginning a feud with a new heel).

At some level, most fans realized the results were pre-determined but the goal was to allow them to suspend belief enough to get caught up in the emotional storm and a lot of work of the promotions and wrestlers went into maintaining kayfabe (the pretense that everything was real).

As this campaign finally reaches the payoff it occurs to me to describe a few ways in which it resembles a storyline from PW. (to be continued)

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