The Power of Storytelling
8 minute read · Issue Number 83 · August 27th, 2021
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I’ve never been a particular fan of any wrestling ‘sport’ or competition, but this past week, while I was hitting the gym, one of the TVs had the WWE on, and I have to admit, the level of entertainment absolutely hypnotized me.
I even forgot that my cardio time was up!
The moment I realized how mesmerized I was, I connected the dots on how that happened.
The actual combat between wrestlers feels artificial compared to UFC or even boxing, but – at least in my opinion – there’s one thing the WWE does better than any other wrestling sport: storytelling.
The Power of Storytelling
The evolution of the human species is a collection of stories that we pass on to each other generation after generation.
Nature, life, and this world are very complex systems for the mind to understand fully. To survive, learn, and adapt, humans use stories as the tool to make sense of the world and our surroundings.
Think about it, history (where even the word includes ‘story’) is a set of compelling summaries — things that happened in the past — that serve two purposes: help us understand things as they are now and predict what will happen in the future.
The WWE figured this out and leveraged it to create great entertainment for an audience of over 11 million fans in the US.
Storytelling in the WWE
One thing that distinguishes the WWE is their ability to write and produce captivating storylines consistently without becoming boring or repetitive.
So how do they do it?
Many elements make up for great storytelling, but let’s cover a few of the ones used in WWE.
Script & Controlled Angles
In the WWE, there’s a script behind most of what happens, and wrestlers execute their roles just like actors do in a theatrical performance.
Furthermore, I’d argue that watching WWE on TV may be more entertaining than in real life because you won’t miss the best angles and reactions.
Unpredictability & Surprise
Studies have found that during moments of surprise, notable brain activity changes in the prefrontal cortex in addition to pupil dilation, which indicates a surge of activity in dopamine-related reward centers.
It literally gives fans a sense of enjoyment and reward.
In actual sports, you get this once in a while; in WWE, you get it all the time.
The Love/Hate Rollercoaster
Every good story will have a setup, conflict, and resolution. In the WWE, about 20-40% of the time, wrestlers will be setting up their next battle (match), which they will solve through an organized fight.
Another way they nail this to perfection is when they make you love one wrestler, and out of a sudden, they make you hate him.
The WWE are experts in character development, just like Hollywood does in movies to set up a character's personality, background, and goals in the story.
They are so perfect in this that they might even have enough patience and take years to develop a wrestler’s personality fully.
The Bottom Line
Sports is a blue ocean of opportunity for story creation. When you sit together with friends to discuss the score or the outcome of a competition, you always share your favorite stories.
While I wouldn’t say the WWE competes with other sports as an actual sport — they certainly do as entertainment — and that is because they know about the power of storytelling.
🎙 Halftime Snack of the Week
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