BY RAJ NATION
If you’re familiar at all with Poor Scholars then you’re aware that we have some wrestling fans on the staff. In this week’s edition of the the Poor Scholars WWE Retro Vid of the Week, Poor Scholars’ Raj Nation breaks down a classic worked character shoot between involving Joey Styles from 2006.
Professional wrestling is meant to be a performance involving characters and a script. Most wrestling fans know this, and keep their interest because they enjoy the story. They understand that what happens on camera is all in the interest of entertainment: Wrestlers don’t actually only know how to resolve disputes with steel chairs, and are actual people outside of their character.
That’s what makes a worked character shoot so impressive, and refreshing. When a shoot takes place, you immediately ask your friends, “Is this supposed to happen?” A shoot involves the character ‘breaking the fourth wall’, as it’s known, and speaking directly to the audience. This breaks the understanding that there is entertainment and people who watch the entertainment, and merges the two worlds. Shoots oftentimes happen when a performer has a legitimate real-world gripe with management, contract negotiations, and/or the development (or lack thereof) of their character. WWE allows these to happen because it acknowledges it will make for good television and also give the performer an opportunity for some much-needed venting, ultimately settling them down again. It’s also a good way to put a wrestler over (see: CM Punk’s ascension in the past two years).
This edition of WWE Retro Video Of The Week is an homage to a great character shoot from 2006. Then play-by-play announcer Joey Styles—former voice of ECW—was upset that WWE had hired him to replace Jim Ross, only to bump him from the broadcast at Wrestlemania in favor of Jim Ross, and then do so again at the next month’s pay-per-view. WWE managed to work into the story that he had taken enough abuse in one night to warrant an outburst, after being heckled by The Spirit Squad, and then Jerry “The King” Lawler.
The insults are rich, the complaints are factual, and the entertainment value is nothing short of make-you-immediately-text-your-friends worthy. By the end, Styles actually exclaims he quits. He still is employed with the company, however, but in an off-camera role writing for wwe.com.