Styles Clash

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Over the next five years, Cody can become a powerhouse. We watch one another’s work. He’ll ask for advice, and I’m happy to help him any way I can. The kid has everything - personality, heart, soul, intelligence, attitude, and drive. Experience can’t be taught, though. What you do in the ring has to make sense. You have to learn how to convey emotion. It’s about the facials, the wrestler’s reactions. Everything has to be so real that nobody questions it. Fans have to be able to see the pain. If you are confused, they have to see that, too. It’s incredible when you actually pull it off. Cody understands that part of it. Cody is one of the young guys I would pay to watch right now and not just because he’s my brother.

Dustin Rhodes, excerpt from Cross Rhodes (via la-kendrazon)

I once said that I’d pay for a PPV of nothing but close ups of Cody’s facial expressions during the ‘undashing’ era and that still holds true today. 

Cody Rhodes: Art vs. Entertainment
… Characterization, while often overlooked as the simplest of literary techniques, is one of the most fundamental devices used to convey emotions and ideas. Despite this—and despite the strong correlation between complex character development and audience interest—wrestling is notorious for producing one-dimensional personalities who are defined only by their moral alignment; i.e., good guy vs. bad guy. Villains can only form partnerships with other villains, and heroes can only form partnerships with other heroes. Previous narratives rarely come into play again once they are concluded. That is to say, if they are both fan favourites, two wrestlers will have no problem putting old differences aside to take on a common enemy. HHH will happily team up with Randy Orton, a man who once punted Hunter’s wife in the skull (and then proceeded to kiss her unconscious body), as long as they are on the same side of the alignment curve in relation to the current story.
Wrestling is also guilty of relying on stereotypes, creating cultural caricatures defined by a single trait (such as their heritage [e.g. Eddie Guerrero] or their job [e.g. Matt Striker]) and show little depth. These characters are entertaining, but they lack artistic value. They present no interesting ideas, nor do they add to any themes, because they lack motivation. They don’t have a back story that precedes their actions, so there is rarely any conflict in their decision making, which in turn makes them appear extremely predictable. This lack of substance can be numbing, but that is ultimately the purpose these characters serve. They are to professional wrestling what The Porter is to Macbeth; the comedic relief between acts. They are the Santino Morellas and the Cryme Tymes of the industry, designed primarily to entertain the casual fan, to make them laugh and smile and stop thinking for a while. To take their minds off their jobs or their relationship troubles or their mortgages. To, quite literally, numb them. This is a necessary component of all forms of literature and theater, but one that needs to be substantially counteracted throughout the rest of the show. There needs to be a balance between these characters and those on the other side of the artistic spectrum: characters who are multi-faceted and who tell interesting, complex stories.
These complex personalities appear less frequently, but they are very present if you look closely enough. The trouble when it comes to wrestling is that many people (particularly critics of the art form) don’t make that effort. They judge the characterization only by those silly comical caricatures as if they are the substance of the product, not realizing that this is akin to judging Hamlet entirely by the characterization of Polonius. All these people need to do is turn on their television any given Friday night to find a perfect example of a wrestling personality who wonderfully combines art with entertainment; someone who is consistently developing and evolving, presenting new and innovative ideas while simultaneously captivating the complete attention of every audience member in attendance. That man is Cody Rhodes.
So, this is just 500 words taken from the middle of the 2,500 word essay I wrote for the first Fair to Flair Quarterly, but it gives a pretty good indication of the tone and direction of the entire thing. You can order the awesome, 80+ page journal here (even in digital form!). If any of you already have/eventually do, let me know what you think. Feedback/constructive criticism is always welcome ;) Enjoy!

Cody Rhodes: Art vs. Entertainment

… Characterization, while often overlooked as the simplest of literary techniques, is one of the most fundamental devices used to convey emotions and ideas. Despite this—and despite the strong correlation between complex character development and audience interest—wrestling is notorious for producing one-dimensional personalities who are defined only by their moral alignment; i.e., good guy vs. bad guy. Villains can only form partnerships with other villains, and heroes can only form partnerships with other heroes. Previous narratives rarely come into play again once they are concluded. That is to say, if they are both fan favourites, two wrestlers will have no problem putting old differences aside to take on a common enemy. HHH will happily team up with Randy Orton, a man who once punted Hunter’s wife in the skull (and then proceeded to kiss her unconscious body), as long as they are on the same side of the alignment curve in relation to the current story.

Wrestling is also guilty of relying on stereotypes, creating cultural caricatures defined by a single trait (such as their heritage [e.g. Eddie Guerrero] or their job [e.g. Matt Striker]) and show little depth. These characters are entertaining, but they lack artistic value. They present no interesting ideas, nor do they add to any themes, because they lack motivation. They don’t have a back story that precedes their actions, so there is rarely any conflict in their decision making, which in turn makes them appear extremely predictable. This lack of substance can be numbing, but that is ultimately the purpose these characters serve. They are to professional wrestling what The Porter is to Macbeth; the comedic relief between acts. They are the Santino Morellas and the Cryme Tymes of the industry, designed primarily to entertain the casual fan, to make them laugh and smile and stop thinking for a while. To take their minds off their jobs or their relationship troubles or their mortgages. To, quite literally, numb them. This is a necessary component of all forms of literature and theater, but one that needs to be substantially counteracted throughout the rest of the show. There needs to be a balance between these characters and those on the other side of the artistic spectrum: characters who are multi-faceted and who tell interesting, complex stories.

These complex personalities appear less frequently, but they are very present if you look closely enough. The trouble when it comes to wrestling is that many people (particularly critics of the art form) don’t make that effort. They judge the characterization only by those silly comical caricatures as if they are the substance of the product, not realizing that this is akin to judging Hamlet entirely by the characterization of Polonius. All these people need to do is turn on their television any given Friday night to find a perfect example of a wrestling personality who wonderfully combines art with entertainment; someone who is consistently developing and evolving, presenting new and innovative ideas while simultaneously captivating the complete attention of every audience member in attendance. That man is Cody Rhodes.


So, this is just 500 words taken from the middle of the 2,500 word essay I wrote for the first Fair to Flair Quarterly, but it gives a pretty good indication of the tone and direction of the entire thing. You can order the awesome, 80+ page journal here (even in digital form!). If any of you already have/eventually do, let me know what you think. Feedback/constructive criticism is always welcome ;) Enjoy!