Reflections on Soap Operas and Professional Wrestling

I have been a watcher of Soap Operas since I was born. My mother watched all the typical soap operas for the time, General Hospital, Young and the Restless and her favorite Bold and the Beautiful. While she stopped watching Y&R and GH by the time I started school, B&B was our show. We watched it together for years. As an adult I kept watching it and except for a few years time after I had my daughter, I continue to watch. Thankfully the CBS app is helping me catch up on what I missed!

I have also been an on and off again fan of professional wrestling. I started watching WWE in the mid-ish 90s and I was hooked. Funnily enough, that is how I met my husband. We bonded over our shared love of professional wrestling. I loved the drama of it (yeah, I know, I’m a total girl) and the showcase of a story combined with an athlete contest.

This led me to some thoughts recently about these two depictions of dramatic story. They really are not that different. In fact, I would venture that wrestling is a soap opera designed to appeal to sports people. My husband said that to me the other day and I haven’t been able to shake the idea from my head since.

Soap operas have a wide cast of characters and often there are multiple storylines going on at once. For example in my beloved B&B you’ll have concurrent storylines about Brooke and Bill getting married, Katie getting engaged to Ridge, Ridge desperately trying to break up Brooke’s wedding, and Quinn sending Ridge on that quest by showing him a naughty selfie of her and Bill. Those are the main storylines for awhile, but you also have a few background storylines, the relationship between Aly and Oliver, Hope vacillating between Liam and Wyatt, Maya trying to get Rick back, Rick and Ridge battling for control of the company. All of these will be going on at the same time and over the course of about five or six months. Then the storylines are slowly replaced so there’s always a constant evolution.

Professional wrestling is exactly the same. You’ll have a rivalry between your two top strong guys, usually vying for a title. There will be several other races for titles. All of this is planned months in advance. The balance of who wins, how they win, and why they win is carefully orchestrated to tell the story that the booker wants to be told. For example, currently I watch AEW Wrestling. It’s a new promotion and really great. You have a battle between MJF and Cody Rhodes, not for a title but for a very personal vendetta. Cody was MJF’s mentor, until he betrayed Cody and caused him to lose a match back in December. This has led to a heated rivalry between the two, with Cody demanding a match between them and MJF agreeing only if Cody meets his terms. Add in every increasingly crazy terms and this grudge match is getting serious. Fans are practically salivating over the match between these two. Another crowd favorite is Darby Allin. He’s a middle card guy, very punk rock inspired, tight jeans, face paint, skateboards to the ring and probably listens to hours of My Chemical Romance all day. By all accounts, this is not a guy who I would have guessed that the audience would love. I thought he was a joke at first. Until they started selling me his story. He can’t seem to win. He tries. Dammit he tries harder than anyone else in that company. He gets beat over and over and over again and then comes back to try harder. And I love him. This underdog story is the most loved thing in the company right now. And all of this is a stage production. It’s a show. A show that was orchestrated months ago to play on my emotions. Drama, intrigue, romance, and violence. Just like the ever beloved soap operas.

 

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