Going Broadway: Why WWE talent needs acting classes Submitted by Going Broadway on 06/14/2019 at 01:20 PM
By J.D. Bachman
Remember that scene in Star Wars Episode II where Anakin Skywalker delivers this brilliant line?
"I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere."
This single line is still quoted in memes across the web to poke fun at exactly how bad that line was delivered. Early this week, Velveteen Dream defended the genetic jackhammer with a slew of statements pointing to the "actors" as the problem. Now we can gauge that Dream was posting this on his social media in character, but with a small amount of real-life critique thrown in.
"When TV sucks it’s because the actors and entertainers and stuntmen FAILED 2 entertain u,” -- Velveteen Dream
While Velveteen Dream makes this statement as a rising talent primed for the main roster, Patrick Clark Jr. (Dream's name IRL), makes this statement as a legitimate critique of the "actors" on the main roster. However, much like Clark would go onto reference his opinions on "90's" Star Wars movies in comparison, we have to pull that infamous line from Episode II and ask ourselves 'is it the writing, or acting?'.
Writer's Note: It's hard to gauge exactly where Clark is coming from with the comparison, as only one Star Wars movie was made in the 90's (1999), with the rest of the second trilogy finishing in the 2000's. These were harshly critiqued movies, while the latest episodes (7-9) were highly revered. Clark was also only 4-years-old at the time Episode I was released in theaters.
When you take Anakin's line in context, it is the context of a nervous 19-year-old attempting to flirt with Princess Padme, who says the following before Hayden Christiensen delivers his infamous line:
"We used to come here for school retreat. We would swim to that island every day. I love the water. We used to lie out on the sand and let the sun dry us and try to guess the names of the birds singing." - Padme
A well written line, am I right?
Anakin's following line can only come off as awkward as a teenager speaking to someone more experienced and intelligent than he is. However, could Christensen have delivered that line just a bit "better" for viewing audiences? Not likely, as remember who is behind the camera: George Lucas. In any scene there are sometimes countless takes so that the director can "get it right" before everything goes to the editing stage. Lucas likely wanted that line to stay as is to further the awkwardness of that scene and Anakin's character. In other words, Christensen likely delivered that line correctly and as intended.
Let's circle back...
Dream's comments and comparisons between Star Wars and the current product mirror comparisons to the WWF Attitude Era. Many fans point to the 90's era as more entertaining, however, this mostly points to a nostalgic-narrative over good writing. I say this because in hindsight, "attitude" storylines were tacky, childish, and excessively racy for the sake of being racy. However, the personalities and extreme nature of the product fit the bill for the time.
In the same vain, the 90's-era Star Wars movies simply didn't match the nostaglia of the original trilogy, even though if you take out the first three Star Wars films, they actually hold up pretty well. They're well-written and well-produced.
So what the hell does this all have to do with professional wrestling?
Dream was absolutely correct in his statement regarding "actors and entertainers". While a lot of the product is watered-down, senseless, and lacks any kind of creative continuity, this is truly likely at the hands of the seemingly senile McMahon. If writers are indeed getting their ideas shot down and tweaked at the last minute, then we never truly get to see the final product of these writers.
The solution? Get your talent into acting classes.
There are some who simply don't need this and have natural charisma and believability. Samoa Joe, The Miz, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Bray Wyatt, and Daniel Bryan are examples of talents who can cut a promo on a fan's laundry and make it seem interesting. However, there does exist top talent, that no matter what script they're given, it's either "sort of" or "not at all" believable. Even top guys like Rollins, Reigns, Styles, and Balor -- who are all great talents in their own rights -- fall just a tad short of believably and great mic work.
The great experiment with AEW is that they've tapped into talent with natural charisma to build the brand around without writers. Maxwell Jacob Friedman will be a household name come the fall, as well as Kenny Omega and Adam Page -- all with natural charisma. However, WWE's product is simply too big to focus on just a few names, and between 8 hours of weekly television, there exists a need to split that focus between five shows, all of which need top stars.
Acting classes, even in the most basic form, will strengthen even the low-mid card talent to shine, even in circumstances where the writing may be bad, or plans have changed on a dime due to McMahon's erratic approach to producing his shows.
So in short, Dream was right.
This doesn't excuse the chaos that is the WWE locker room at the moment, nor does it excuse the erratic and head-scratching storytelling that has become so bad that it's hard to focus on other parts of the product that may actually be good. However, amidst bad storytelling, if the acting and emotion portrayed by these talents are at least on point, it might disguise ill-advised and last-minute writing changes to a show.
If Vince McMahon wants to keep his product strictly in the sports entertainment era, and these temple-rubbing crapshoot of storylines and 50/50 booking are going to become the continued mainstay in a time where the industry is changing, we might as well get more bank for our viewing buck with better-trained wrestlers, or "actors".