I don’t want to jinx the guy, but it appears as though WWE is going to finally do something with Dolph Ziggler. According to recent reports, WWE creative is planning on combining Ziggler and The Miz in a tag-team that will basically be “disgruntled angry employees” that speak out about being held down. I know, it sounds oddly familiar, doesn’t it? Isn’t that exactly what the current Daniel Bryan character is supposed to be? Seems that way to me. However, that is not my focus today.
One of the reasons WWE is rumored to be running with this tag-team is due in part to the promo that Ziggler cut recently on the WWE App. I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now, as it turned a lot of heads and got a lot of people talking. As well it should have. Why was the promo so appealing? Well, that’s simple. Ziggler believed what he was saying. He felt it. How that came to evolve into a tag-team with The Miz is behind me. The Miz is maybe the most robotic interview in WWE right now in terms of how he tows the company line in all media interviews, whereas Ziggler is pretty much the complete opposite, saying exactly what’s on his mind regardless of potential repercussions.
Anyways, back to the topic at hand. Ziggler came off as passionate and believable in that promo. He came off that way because he was. This is the formula for the perfect promo. Shocker, right? No. Having 20-something year-old comedy television writers scripting every word for a WWE Superstar, whether it reflects a particular Superstar’s real-life personality or not, is not the way to get a performer to connect with an audience. The way you get a performer to connect with an audience through verbalization is to have him express subject matters and issues that he (or she) truly believes. Something they truly feel and can say with determination and believability, because they actually do believe what they are saying.
This style of promo is what really made the Attitude Era what it was. Prior to the Attitude Era, along with what guys like Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were doing when they first jumped to WCW, is what made the professional wrestling business transition from cartoon and comic-book characters into real-life personalities. You’ve heard it a million times. The guys in that era were being themselves with the volume turned way up.
And it worked. Big time. Go back and look at the ratings, the pay-per-view numbers, the merchandise sales. Go back and watch the interviews, the promos, the storylines. Why WWE decided to get away from that when they finally defeated their competition (with that very style) is completely beyond me. Just because they went to a family-friendly, PG-style product does not mean they have to go back to cartoons and comic-book characters. People can still be themselves with doing crotch chops, flipping the middle finger or using vulgar language on a regular basis. Obviously you can still tap into who you really are without being profane. One would assume this should be common knowledge.
Look at the guys who are most over with the true, die-hard pro wrestling fans of the current generation. These are guys like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler. Why are these guys so over with that specific audience? Because that audience truly loves wrestling and can relate to the fact that these are the type of Superstars that are currently in the business that love it just as much. They have a passion for it and it shows. They want to get over based on working hard in the ring and by being themselves on the mic. They want to be real. When you’re real, it’s easy to tell. Fans aren’t stupid, most can spot a phony a thousand miles away.
When Daniel Bryan goes out in media interviews and says the machine is holding him down, even though he’s being told to say it, why do you think it connects with the audience so strongly? Because they believe it. Why do they believe it? Because it’s true. Because Bryan believes it as well. Sure, he’s being told to say it, but the fact that he truly believes it makes the audience believe it just as strongly. And therein lies the connection between Bryan the performer and the audience that watches him. The connection grows as Bryan’s character grows.
When CM Punk flawlessly executed his first famous pipe bomb, why do you think that shook the wrestling world up as much as it did? Because he believed it. He was truly on the way out the door and even though he technically wasn’t “shooting” in that promo, he was being dead honest about how he feels. And guess what? The audience could tell. They could tell the difference between that promo and any other on the shows at the time. It stood out for that very reason. The audience felt his passion and believed what he was saying, because Punk himself actually believed it as well.
The recent Dolph Ziggler promo on the WWE App. Why did that cause such a response from wrestling fans? Because Ziggler believed what he was saying. Just because he was given permission to say it doesn’t mean he didn’t feel it, because he clearly did. It’s even further evidence that when you let a talent tap into what he truly feels, what’s truly inside him, when you let that talent get that out verbally, it more often than not establishes a connection with the audience that can grow in time.
Now don’t get me wrong, you can go too far with it. The Vince Russo era in WCW proved that point. Having guys “shoot” just for the sake of shooting, or trying to convince the audience something is real when it isn’t, once again, the audience can see through it. They know what’s genuine and what isn’t. They can spot a phony, even if it’s decorated as a “shoot” or something that’s “real.” Fans know real when they see it (or hear it).
In the world of wrestling, things work when you let a talent shoot. When you let them speak from the heart and put that passion out on display. the fans will gravitate towards that. They’ll want more of it — because it’s real. And they know it. So, imagine that. Shooting works.
Now it’s time for you guys to shoot with me. Leave your shoot-feedback in the “Comments” section below. Additionally, you can shoot the breeze with me directly at Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR.