HERO’S FLAW v. VILLAIN’S FLAW
When creating your hero, they need to have a flaw. What is that flaw? Self-doubt? (Luke Skywalker) Kryptonite? (Superman) Fear of the unknown? (Dorothy Gale). Heck, all the members of Dorothy’s party in “Wizard of Oz” have flaws. All flaws they will have to overcome if they are to succeed.
If your hero has no flaws, then your hero becomes boring or one-note. I remember the many years of Hulk Hogan’s reign and yeah, he was great for the kids but for adults like me, his matches became rote and boring. This could be said for the likes of John Cena today. It doesn’t mean they must win every time or the villain must lose every time – it just means there’s nothing to necessarily exploit to make a match or a story-line interesting.
I’m reminded of good wrestling matches where the storytelling encompasses an injury and how one wrestler exploits that injury to win. This is logical. It’s frustrating when an “injured” wrestler either doesn’t sell the injury well or the other wrestler doesn’t exploit the injury well. The story telling is there: tell it.
Sometimes the hero’s flaw is simply that he’s “small” or not your prototype wrestler. But they overcome that flaw through speed or smarts. Who was the one-legged wrestler the WWE had for a while?
The issue I see with the WWE isn’t so much the hero having a flaw but the villain having NO flaw.
We’ve seen the WWE go back to the “Corporation/Boss” as bad guy over and over and over again. It’s a good storyline to go back to because so many of us fans can relate to it. How many times have we felt under the thumb of a boss who doesn’t understand us? How many times have we wanted to dump feces onto our boss? How many times have we wanted to create holy hell?
The problem with the above is that if we did any of those things we would be fired and/or in jail. When the “Corporation” is firing people right and left then why create a story-line where someone like Daniel Bryan takes over the ring? Or CM Punk runs off with the championship belt? If your villain is ALL POWERFUL then why aren’t they using their power?
Yes, I know this is a fictional TV show with storylines that will, eventually, pay off. There have to be obstacles to overcome for your hero to prevail and those obstacles, the stronger and more powerful they are, will give satisfaction to the conclusion of the story.
In the film “Jaws,” Sheriff Brody fights off a shark that, literally, destroys a shark cage, rips apart a boat and kills the shark hunter. Brody, thinking that he’s on his own, has to fight off the shark himself. Having been told to not mess with the oxygen tanks that they could explode (foreshadowing) he’s able to cram one into the shark’s mouth and blow it to bits (sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t seen it). This 3rd act goes on for quite a while and you’re on the edge of your seat.
In the film “Jaws II,” Sheriff Brody fights off a shark by having it chomp down on an underwater electrical cord – electrocuting it. The end.
Ending is far more satisfying than the other because it is more logical than the second one and, thus, the payoff is better.
When Braun Strowman started his hellacious attack on anyone and everyone on RAW – I was curious as to how the WWE was going to pay this off. The writers made him completely unstoppable – He does what he wants, when he wants to, no matter what! He won’t listen, he’ll wreak havoc! And I asked myself: “What’s the flaw?” “Where’s his Achilles heel?” “How is the WWE going to control the uncontrollable?”
Then, the next thing I know, he shows up in London on RAW with his arm in a sling and Roman exploits the flaw to give the WWE a reason to write him out of the show for a while. I felt, though, that giving him that flaw – even if just for a quick storyline reason – made him a far more interesting wrestler than just the big badass that no one can control. By making him more three-dimensional, it gives HIM something to overcome, too.
I remember a story-line when “The Big Red Machine” Kane was creating all hell. Throwing people in dumpsters. Lighting J.R. on fire, etc. But then, somehow, someone took off his mask and he was, supposedly, this grotesque human being that could barely be viewed. If I remember right, this was his flaw in a storyline. Of course, the mask eventually came off and he was a handsome fella.