“Can you come up with ideas that aren’t directly ripped off of the latest episode of Raw? (If you say no, stop right now. You obviously aren’t creative enough.)”
– Ron Hall, handler of ‘Superstar’ Ron Hall
So, if you’ve been following this guide, you’ve just finished creating your character. You’ve got a look, a name, a personality, and a set of moves. You’re ready to bring this person to life. You know where he comes from, what his favorite color is, what move he likes to finish his matches off with, how he’s gonna climb the ranks, whether or not he’s gonna be a face or heel, stuff like that…
…now let’s talk about doing all of that in front of a camera.
It’s one thing to write scenes of every day life. The diner scene, as it’s called, is a staple of not just e-fedding but all fictional writing. We’ve seen it a million times. Two characters meet in a diner and talk about their lives. This scene can suck, or it can suck you in. It depends on how well the dialogue is written, and how well the setting is portrayed. Scenes like this are useful and perhaps mandatory in some sections of e-fedding. At some point, you will have to show us your character outside of the ring.
But if you’ve ever watched wrestling, you know that you don’t see John Cena eating lunch with his girlfriend on RAW. You see John Cena talking to you, and his opponents, through the live cameras broadcasting to the world.
That’s what you have to do with your character. You have to cut that “promo”. A lot of e-feds will look at how well you cut a promo, or how well you write pieces that help to build you as a wrestler (i.e., your next match, your opponent as a threat to you, the company you are wrestling for, and yourself.) Some feds will ONLY look at this, and not character development. Some feds won’t really look at this so much, on the other hand. But regardless, if you wish to roleplay as a wrestler then it is recommend you at least learn the basics of cutting the promo.
And you can’t cut John Cena’s promo. You can’t just go out there and do generic trash talk. Listen to this generic promo, and imagine yourself as my opponent for our upcoming match next Tuesday night. It’ll be taking place at Madison Square Garden, for the UWA World Title. I’m just making shit up here to create context, follow me on this please.
“Im going to beat you…kick your ass…I will win! Next Tuesday, in Madison Square Garden, I will beat you for the UWA World Title! You cant beat my ass! You might have beat everyone else to get to me, but you can’t beat me! Im going to make you bleed! Im going to make you cry! Im going to take your title!”
Let’s try that again.
“Okay, so you’re the next one in line. You’re the one who’s earned the shot, went through everyone to get here. Bro, you really think you’re gonna hold me down for three seconds? I will stomp you like Kirk Franklin. But I’m a nice guy. Here’s some sunglasses so you don’t go blind looking up at the lights. That belt’s coming back with me…if you don’t get robbed on the way to the Garden. New York’s a scary place on a Tuesday night. But getting in the ring with a Madman like me? That might be even scarier. ”
Now…you understand what I did there?
The first promo was literally reading from a transcript. It was just someone reciting the time and place of the event, and someone telling us to come watch them win the title from you at that event. There was no emotion, no creativity, no reason for us to think that person would stand a chance at winning anything. Ever.
The second promo did the exact same thing. Only you might have read it, and liked the coolness of Madman as he delivered it. Notice that I slid my name in there effortlessly, getting myself a little bit more advertisement. You might have found him to be a dickhead. You probably didn’t like him from reading that. And you weren’t supposed to. You were supposed to look at him and think “I might watch that show, just to see if he wins/gets his ass kicked.”
THAT IS THE SECRET TO CUTTING A PROMO. Think about it. Promo is short for what? Promotional. Those promos you see John Cena cut? Those pipe bombs people do all the time, shooting on the stick? They’re fucking commercials. That’s all that shit is. You’re selling the company you work for, the show you perform on, the performers you work with, and yourself as a star in this company of stars. You’re trying to get more people to watch your shit, because that’s how you grow both as an individual and the business as a whole. That’s why you see your favorite wrestlers doing interviews, involved in feuds and side storylines, and making appearances outside of the promotion. They’re doing commercials trying to get you to come watch the next show.
But if you knew these people were just selling you a product, you wouldn’t give a damn. The secret to how these work is that you don’t know you’re watching a commercial. The promotional material can be just as entertaining – sometimes more so – than the match or show itself that it is promoting. Did I have to say the name of the company or the show twenty times? Of course not. If I did, you would realize it was a promo. You don’t want people looking at your roleplays like they’re just commercials for you and why people should buy into you being the next champion, or the winner of your next match. You want people to be excited when you post something, and you want them even more excited for what you are going to post next. Subtlety is key.
Writing a roleplay in e-wrestling is the same thing as what you see on TV and in the indies. Don’t just talk about beating someone up and winning matches. Don’t be bland. Don’t be generic. Use your character to put a new spin on the same old schtick. Do you want to psychologically twist and manipulate people’s thoughts, like Jake Roberts did in the early 90’s with Randy Savage or as Bray Wyatt does today to many of his opponents? Do you want to establish your superiority as a superior technical wrestler, like Bret Hart or Daniel Bryan? Do you want to have fun and party hard, but fight harder, like Sandman? Do you want to insult people like Scott Steiner? Do you want to kick people’s heads off and only say two words at a time like Kota Ibushi? Or do you want to use a little bit of all of the above?
Show us how your character puts it down. We want to see who they are, why they are fighting, and why we should care. Paul Heyman once said that if you can give the fans an answer to those three questions, you will have a successful program in the wrestling business. As e-fedding is a roleplaying simulation of the actual wrestling business, this is also true in our hobby as well. You have to cut the promo to get people hyped for what you’re going to do next.
You can’t cut a promo to your girlfriend sitting in a diner.
Well, honestly…you can. But there’s got to be a camera there filming it, and you’ve got to figure out a way to explain to the reader why there’s a camera filming this guy’s lunch date with his girlfriend. And why the girlfriend doesn’t feel more awkward than I did the first time I watched New Girl.
You can see there are a lot of easier ways to go about this. Pick one. Be creative. Maybe you’ve got an idea of something we’ve never seen before. Then go for it. Write your ideas down if you have to, before you try putting some of them together into a roleplay. Write individual scenes if you wish, and then put them together into one piece. There might even be a way to blend the two together, combining the intimacy of character development scenes with the hype and excitement of an on-camera scene that gets you pumped for the big show.
Think you know how to do it? Go for it. Start writing, see what happens. Just remember that different feds will want one more than the other. Some will prefer you to stick to only doing on-camera promotional material or something equivalent. Some will lean towards the character development scenes. And some will take both into account. You’ll just have to do your homework when you apply for a fed and see where is right for you.
You know…all of this talk about creating characters and cutting promos..I haven’t really talked much about writing, have I?
Next time, I’m gonna have to fix that. We’ll talk about the basics and barebones of creative writing.
Jeremy Cundiff, handler of Madman Szalinski
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