FATP: The Rhodes to Success

One of the things that people say a lot about me is that I’m too angry and hard to please. That I don’t like anything. But that’s not the full story. I might come across as a moaner. Or as angry. Or as if I don’t like anything. But that’s not the case whatsoever.

If I do get angry, wound up, or frustrated, it’s only because I love the business. I love the pageantry. The pomp and circumstance. The athletic contest, the storytelling, the theatrics. All of that stuff. I’m passionate, and anyone who really knows me will understand that. It just annoys me when we know how well wrestling companies can do, and they don’t quite manage to get there with the stories they try to tell, or characters that they don’t really give us a reason to care about.

Wrestling storylines shouldn’t be difficult to construct. As long as there are well-defined characters who have a reason to be involved in a conflict, and there’s an emotional investment there, the fans will eat it up.

Now brace yourselves here, because this is going to be a positive column from me. Yes. POSITIVE. Pick yourselves up and be prepared my friends. The title gives it away somewhat, but I’m going to focus on the recent resurgence of the Rhodes family – Dusty, Dustin (Goldust) and Cody.

The reason why the fans care so much about their conflict with the McMahons is because it’s personal. We can tell that there’s a reason why they are feuding with The Shield (on behalf of the McMahons).

We know who Dusty is. He’s The Dream. One of the greatest of all-time. The man who dominated Florida in the 70’s and 80’s, only to be dressed up in polka dots when he came to the WWF. Then there’s Goldust. A man who’s gimmick shook up the wrestling world in the mid-90’s, but who is very underrated both as a performer and a wrestler. And then there’s Cody Rhodes. The youngest son. A guy with all the talent in the world, but who hasn’t got to the top…yet.

Dusty, Dustin and Cody are three well-defined characters who the fans have an emotional connection with. You want to see them succeed because of what’s happened in their current storyline with the McMahons.

Cody was fired for questioning the boss and coming up just short in a match with the-then WWE Champion, Randy Orton. Then Dustin (Goldust) tried to win his brother’s job back in a match with Orton the following week. He was hugely impressive, but again, fell at the hands of the Apex Predator. And to top it all off, Stephanie McMahon came out and tried to make The Dream choose between his sons, so he (quite rightly) told her to beat it, only to get knocked out by the Big Show for his trouble.

It’s a simple equation. Put 3 babyfaces in somewhat unfair situations against a dominant heel boss and they’ll draw sympathy from the crowd because they want to see them finally overcome the odds. Babyfaces in peril against dominant “bad guys” will draw emotion from the crowd because they believe that they’re in danger. It’s not difficult. It’s how wrestling has worked for decades.

The key thing about the Rhodes/Shield dynamic is that it’s believable. You believe the babyfaces are up against it. You believe the heels are bad guys and almost unstoppable. You care about the Rhodes’ getting their revenge on the McMahons through beating The Shield. And that’s what wrestling is about. Indifference is no use.

If you needed any further persuasion, the proof is in the pudding. At BattleGround (which I felt was a largely uneventful and pointless PPV on the whole), the crowd were heavily invested in the tag-team match pitting the Rhodes Brothers against The Shield. The fans in attendance had a reason to care about who won the match.

The Shield are a terrific team, and they’ve proven that since their debut back at Survivor Series last year. They’ve been involved in countless great tag-team, and 6-man, matches, and they always manage to get the crowd engaged in what they do. So when you mix a strong team like The Shield against babyfaces in the Rhodes, who you want to see win, it makes for classic wrestling storytelling.

If you’ve not seen that match from BattleGround, go back and watch it. Those of you who’ve seen it will know what I’m talking about. The crowd was hot for the ENTIRE match, and especially for the closing stages, where Cody got the hot tag and eventually got the pin to win the match. The crowd WANTED to see the Rhodes win because we’d seen them vulnerable and in danger over the last few weeks. And they did win. What was the crowd reaction? Insane, because they’d seen the culmination of a good story in terms of the Rhodes’ winning their jobs back and finally getting one over on the evil bosses.

WWE went one step further with it though and this past week on Raw, we saw the Rhodes go up against The Shield again, only this time with the WWE Tag-Team Championships on the line. Again, the result was the same. Give the crowd something engaging, something to sink their teeth into, and they’ll enjoy it. That’s why most wrestling fans that I speak to have loved the situation between the Rhodes’ and the McMahons.

Wrestling doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s driven by good stories and characters. If you have those, then the fans have a reason to care about what happens and the end of the story. And they do care about the Rhodes’.

It’s not often that we see a match for the WWE Tag-Team Championships main-event an episode of Raw. Yes, there were shenanigans, but that’s what you get yourself into when you book a No Disqualification match. It didn’t detract from the story that Dustin and Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have told in their last couple of matches. It’s been just brilliant to watch and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

All WWE need to do is make sure that most of the matches on the card are booked as well as this feud has been. It’s not as if they don’t have the in-ring or creative talent to do it. They do. And this feud has shown everyone that they do. The storyline, and the way it’s been crafted, with the Rhodes family over the last few weeks is clearly the way forward for WWE. Well-defined characters and a well-crafted storyline will see the crowd, more often than not, get invested in what’s going on. It’s the road to success, and definitely what’s best for business.


Twitter: @george_sltd