The recent return of Mark Henry and his great performance inside the Chamber made me ask myself about what actually is a monster, and how it is reproduced in professional wrestling. WWE always uses the same pattern when it tries to create a new monster, be it heel or babyface : Arrive, squash a random jobber, leave (Stone Cold would be proud).
When you look into the meaning of the word “monster”, you see that it means “different from society’s standards”, or “he whose actions morals condemn.” Basically, WWE creates perfect monsters according to that definition.
However, I think that limiting a monster to those aspects is too simplistic and unoriginal in professional wrestling, and that WWE should try to create a monster in the sense of a horror movie monster.
That kind of monster takes three basic forms :
- The first kind of monster is the “classic” monster, i.e. vampires, werewolves and all the traditional monsters in our culture. We have seen that type of monster with the Ascension recently, but I do not think it is the path WWE should take, as that type of monster in professional wrestling always ends up being too cheesy and absurd to be taken seriously, especially nowadays when the most successful characters are the realistic ones.
- The second kind of monster is when the protagonist of a story is himself the monster, without knowing it. It allows the audience to think about human nature and human psyche, and stare at the worse aspects of human nature, like greed, jealousy and rage for example. We saw a glimpse of what that kind of monster can be when Kane was searching for the person who attacked his brother the Undertaker. He embraced the rage and succombed to his jealousy for his brother without being totally conscious of it all the time. It was very entertaining but far from being a perfect monster.
- Now, the third type, the type that I think would make for an original and entertaining monster in WWE: the abstract monsters. We only see a glimpse of the monster, we never see it clearly in its entirety. There is an aura of mystery surrounding it, and what frightens us is what our mind tells us is scary. We are frightened without the violence itself and the character of the monster plays on our internal fears. One of the best examples in literature are Lovecraft’s books – which I strongly recommend – where the fear is inexpressible and unspeakable.
Instead of doing a vignette to tease the debut of a new wrestler, WWE could show us each week other wrestlers being attacked, but not the attack itself. We could only see a shadow or an evil laugh. We could see some psychological games without ever seeing who did it. I know that we’ve already seen that kind of things in WWE with Kane and the Undertaker, but we always knew who was behind it. Using that kind of monster could allow the WWE to build a wrestler and make him dangerous without ever showing him, without knowing his size or his style of wrestling.
A PG show can’t allow for truly scary situations (like blood spread on the floor, hallucinations and seeing corpses and dead things) but I believe that while staying PG, it is possible to create an atmosphere around a Monster being there, somewhere in the locker room, randomly attacking wrestlers and terrorizing the roster. Why not attack some fans too? Of course, they would be played by local wrestlers, but that would be a great way to install a sensation of insecurity, and our mind would fill in the missing details of who that monster is, and each one of us would frighten ourselves with what we fear the most. The WWE is great at making video packages which would be a great tool.
One concern here is to not be cheesy (Embrace the hate, anyone?), and it is hard to trust WWE creatives here. But the main problem would be to have a superstar that could live up to the hype created. I strongly believe that after weeks of teasing a monster, when he finally enters the ring, we would all eagerly await his first move, his first punch, we would all want to see what that monster is capable of, making an instant star of the wrestler and of the hero that will slay him (I know we all heard “John Cena” instead of “hero.”)
Using that pattern of a monster would allow WWE to build effectively a new superstar and create a unique character that could instantly have a “main-event feeling”, and would give us truly a new kind of monster.