Tag: story structure

Storytelling in Professional Wrestling

Backlash 2000. The Rock is outnumbered. The WWF championship is on the line. Vince McMahon, once an ally now an enemy, attacked The Rock from behind and with the referee, Vince’s son Shane, and the WWF champion, Triple H, swarms The Rock with kicks and punches. Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock’s backup, is nowhere to be seen.

Triple H hits The Rock with his finisher, the Pedigree, and pins him for the final three count. One. Two. The Rock kicks out. Two more of Vince’s lackeys, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, run to the ring wearing referee shirts and join in the beating. Triple H hauls The Rock up to his feet for one more pedigree. Vince struts around the ring promising the crowd one last three count.

Glass shatters.

The crowd explodes as Stone Cold marches down to the ring with a chair, smacks everyone on the head with it and leaves The Rock to finish Triple H with a People’s Elbow and win back the WWF championship.

Twenty one years later I think I realise what made that match great. Not only was Triple H a great heel and The Rock and Stone Cold two of the best, if not the best, faces in the company’s history, but the very structure of the match itself led to its cathartic finale. Enter Freytag’s Pyramid.

Although Freytag’s model may be outdated today I think it’s still useful in its simplicity. The rising action of the match, to the best of my memory, is when The Rock gains the advantage and, among other things, hits his finisher on both Triple H and Shane through one of the commentary tables at ringside. The complication is when Vince and his lackeys attack The Rock to turn the tide of the match and both the climax and reversal is when Stone Cold returns to smash the bad guys and allow The Rock to defeat his enemy.

Simple superb storytelling.