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WWE – Why It’s Important To Have Comedy In Wrestling by Mike Sanchez

When watching wrestling clips, interviews or matches on YouTube, I’m someone who can easily fall down the rabbit hole by clicking the related videos list on the right. I can’t think of a more apt description for this as one minute you can be watching a match from Wrestlemania XX then a shoot interview, then a documentary on wrestling and before you know it, you’re engrossed in a video about Area 51 and secret government conspiracies involving UFOs and lizard Men. Aliens.

It was down one such rabbit hole that I found a compilation of funny WWF/WWE moments and honestly laughed at many of them. This past week on Smackdown gave us a skit involving The Miz and Maryse that I also found funny. It made me think about the current product and how comedy should play an integral role in the programming. That’s not meaning every segment, feud or wrestler should have some comedic value or the show should be one big skit, but every now and then a little comic relief is necessary.

To have comedy in WWE is difficult as I’m guessing the writers aren’t from a comedic background. There’s also a fine line in a character’s persona that needs to be towed in order not to make them a joke act. This is where the most mysterious and important factor in any superstar’s arsenal comes into pay: charisma. You’ve either got it, or you haven’t. Chris Jericho has it. Kevin Owens has it. The Rock had it and even Triple H has it – especially when he was next to Shawn Michaels.

WWE history is littered with comical characters. Some worked, some didn’t. Santino Marella made a career out of being a comedian. He was the plucky ‘audience-member’ who captured The Intercontinental Title in Milan, Italy. He then went through phases of Santino, Santina (Women’s Champion) and treated us to his Cobra every week. Of all WWE records he could hold, the fastest Royal Rumble elimination is one I’m sure he’s proud of.

Personal funny favourites of mine, especially when I was a kid were: The Bushwhackers (strange, considering their early run was anything but comedy) – when they licked people’s faces!!, anytime Ric Flair did his wobble & flop to the mat, any Kane moment in older Royal Rumbles (Honky Tonk Man, etc.), Kurt Angle when he was silly (cowboy hat, milk truck etc.) and up to my favourite villain ever, Vicky Gurrerro. She had some great comedy moments. The WCW debut of The Shockmaster was also classic comedy gold, although perhaps not intentional.

Comedy in wrestling can come in many forms too. Whether it’s as simple as the look or costumes the stars wear, or catchphrases that connect with the audience. What? That hit a chord with them and makes us smile. What? There are some who take it to the next level and really embrace that connection and use it to their advantage every week. Their presence is pure showmanship and has given their careers longevity or a new lease of life to a character that was in danger of becoming lost or stale – think The New Day, Kane & Daniel Bryan, Enzo & Cass.

For some wrestlers, however, it wouldn’t do them any good to make the audience laugh: The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Baron Corbin and Bray Wyatt come to mind. They don’t need jokes. They’re the serious guys for the serious parts of the show. We shouldn’t expect humour to be part of their repertoire. There should be a fine balance between seriousness and laughter on any WWE show. There’s cynicism and sarcasm, sure, but humour needs to be subtle to be a part of a major feud to make an angle interesting to the audience.

The Miz’s recent skit was funny and surprising, as it was out of the blue. The intense promos he’d been delivering were countered by a smiling John Cena, so Miz took it upon himself to turn the tables. The skit was silly, over the top and made Cena and the Bellas look like idiots. It worked really well. The impact humour can have was felt the following day by some WWE fans. They enjoyed what Miz did. So much that the tide may turn before Wrestlemania and against Cena. A guy who can make you laugh is a guy you’re likely to root for. It can turn a heel to a face in a matter of weeks. The Rock is a prime example of that. The crowds initially found him boring and the ‘Die Rocky, Die’ chants were loud. Insert a little humour, some sharp wit and a loud mouth and he won them over to become one of the most beloved superstars to ever enter a WWE ring. If Miz pulls another skit like he did this week, I can see the mania crowd in his corner in just under a couple of weeks.

Any WWE fan also noticed a new promotion announced by WWE this week: Southpaw Regional Wrestling. Where did that come from? This caught me by surprise and I really enjoyed it. It really caught the style of the bygone wrestling era. I liked that fact that WWE isn’t afraid to laugh at itself once in a while. The style, the sets, the scripts were all on point and showed that WWE had captured the essence of retro wrestling programming. It was old in style, but refreshingly new to watch. To the kids it must looks strange, but to older fans, there were definite moments of de-ja-vu and smiles when the old ad-hoc interview styles made us laugh and cringe in synchronicity.

To me, the addition of a little segment such as SRW gives WWE more scope than a simple wrestling show. The WWE Network has a plethora of excellent entertainment; from cartoons like Slam City to really good interviews or behind the scenes glimpses like Table for Three, they are really building something special for the fans and showcasing some excellent ideas. To have it all serious wouldn’t be great because there should always be times for silliness and comedy. At the end of the day, we’re all watching a soap opera about men and women fighting in their underwear. It’s supposed to be entertaining. It’s supposed to make us laugh now and again. More comedy please, WWE. The stars you have aren’t just talented in the ring; let’s see more of their acting, their word and their jokes. It’s really appreciated.

What do you think? Should there be more comedy in WWE? Do you prefer serious storylines? What was your favourite comedy moment? Who made you laugh? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.