The Language of WWE

WWE, TNA, and all U.S./Canada based graps talk
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Rich Kraetsch
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The Language of WWE

Post by Rich Kraetsch » Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:54 pm

If you haven't already, I'd highly recommend checking out Brandon Howard's piece on the Language of WWE: http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/2015/0 ... ge-of-wwe/

Interested to hear some of your guy's thoughts on what Brandon discovered.

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AndyItwaru
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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by AndyItwaru » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:35 pm

I got a headache going through this, not because the article is bad, but because of the absurd level of North Korean inspired control the company holds over the performers. It's beating a dead horse whose corpse has long since rotted at this point to discuss how this practice handcuffs the performers, but well, it does. How much of all this is Vince being just straight up bored with WWE? I know he has this herculean work ethic but from what we've heard from those in the know he also has a flea sized attention span. Is it possible that Vince has some kind of concussion effects from the attitude era when he was taking unprotected chair shots as a 50 year old man? I think alot of people in the industry tip toe around the notion that Mcmahon is out of touch, even though its painfully obvious he's been so since about 2002ish.

Overall very detailed piece and I look forward to reading more from Mr. Howard.

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by BoxingRobes » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:54 pm

The article is fantastic.

I sped through it, but I wanted to point out or at least highlight if I missed it...the WWEs vocabulary is just so antiquated. The idea of sports entertainment is a late 70s and early 80s term that peaked in the early 90s from a time where you have a ton of hybrid sports and entertainment shows like roller derby and American Gladiators. Diva is the definition of a term that shows Vince's age and another early 90s reference. None of it is relevant to current pop culture in the here and now. He is completely out of tune with the current popular landscape and has shown he is downright scared of NEW or even anything remotely considered popular within the past decade.

Paul Heyman is a guy that constantly makes the point that you need to be in tune with the here and now...but the WWE is so far behind in the times, its silly.

Because Vince and seemingly, anyone with creative power still hasn't evolved since the early 90s, they completely missed that pop culture since. Realism and grit is pretty awesome, and the GenPop knows it considering athletic competition (sports), reality TV and gritty drama television pop huge ratings, all of which are everything the WWE is not and the WWEs ratings are as low as they've been since, well...the early-mid 90s.

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by Nathaniel Ledger » Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:59 pm

Excellent article. On the whole, the effort to pretend that WWE isn't a wrestling company failed a long time ago. The language has evolved to a point where it's just, as a previous poster alluded to, headache inducing. The fact that the commentary team barely describe what's happening in the ring most of the time probably relieves them from having to stick to a list of acceptable words and phrases.

For all the years of the use of 'sports entertainment', 'Superstars' instead of wrestlers etc, when your average Joe (and Joanne) sits in the cinema this summer watching the new Amy Schumar movie 'Trainwreck' and they see John Cena, they're not going to say 'hey, that's that superstar from sports entertainment'.

Again, excellent read.

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by H.U.S.T.L.E. » Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:33 pm

Echoing the sentiments of others here - great article by Brandon.

I saw Joe's tweet earlier about quality wrestling writing and if recent content is a sign of what's to come, I'm extremely excited about the future of the site. Keep up all the great work guys!

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by Quentin Moody » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:02 pm

As everyone else has already said, this piece was absolutely fantastic.

They try to distance themselves from "wrestling" so much and it's crazy. They build their own world and make their own rules and it's a truly fascinating place. You don't ever hear someone in real life say "Hey, you want to go to this sports entertainment show?" or "Who's your favorite sports entertainer?". They push this term and way of thinking so much, but they will always be wrestling.

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by Jove » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:05 pm

Apologies for length here.


Brilliant. Wrestling + Wittgenstein.


I especially liked the conclusion, and I wanted to touch upon this line:


"Does the style really do something for kids, the fans in passing and corporate partners that makes it worth it?"


Since WWE is always targeting kids, or being accused of shamelessly trying pander to kids, I thought I could give some insight into how well they are doing in manipulating our children.


I work at a public 6-12 school, and in the process of that I spend a lot of my day enduring 6ths graders (so we're talking about kids in the 11-13 range), and I'm always screening out the wrestling fans in the student population. The article really made me ruminate on their language when they talk about wrestling, and especially the comparison of the language used by young kids (the middle schoolers) and young adults (the high schoolers). This is all casual, so I can't say it's a microcosm of anything, but perhaps I can use it as a mild case study.

Here's what I've observed: the middle school kids aren't naturally using all the balderdash language WWE wants them to be speaking, but there is a parroting effect. The high school kids really only parrot the trademarked branding nonsense.

So, the middle school kids haven't fully absorbed the most relentless euphemisms ("WWE Universe," "Superstars," etc.), but they will occasionally use them. Obviously, these are kids with a higher stage of cognitive development, so there's nascent cynicism and awareness, but they embody that transitional phase that is really interesting (and a stage that I flat out refuse to teach). But their usage is not consistent at all.

The high school kids, the ones I actually teach, don't replicate any of the language WWE desperately wants hardwired into their brains. I'm sure there were instances I just don't recall. It's not a small sample size; once I find the wrestling fans, I use it for classroom management and motivation constantly (to get some of the more annoying fuckers to take their rhetorics papers seriously, we had formal debates on tag teams. They have godawful taste). And I've been paying attention, too, so any use of that language was too infrequent to notice.

One word that has unfortunately made progress is "Divas." The kids, of all ages, do use that word when talking about WWE women's wrestlers. It's not totally consistent usage, but way more consistent than anything else. It's highly contextualized, but in a way that's what makes it so frustrating, and beneficial for WWE; the WWE has established their own context, and language for use only within that context. This is the kind of academic language learning that educators fucking dream of doing.

Students of all ages think nothing of branding and trademarks, so they use the catchphrases, nicknames, etc. So, the full-on marketing is working, it's just the surreptitious language game balderdash isn't as much. I don't find that too revealing, since that's a universal thing. Like, my friends into nonsense like grindcore think nothing of casually mentioning bands with names like Agoraphic Nosebleed. Everyone normalizes title names and "official" things.

Oh, and every kid uses "wrestler" and "wrestling" liberally. I think that's actually an important point, because these are the kids who have literally grown up with nothing else besides WWE's word-fuckery. They know better, because it's fucking self-evident.



So, to summarize all that:

1. Middle school age kids haven't internalized these words, but they do sometimes use them.
2. High school age kids have lost almost all of the language-game garbage.
3. The WWE's greatest booking has been their successful identity-fuck to women, because both the middle school and high school kids use that language.
Last edited by Jove on Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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AndyItwaru
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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by AndyItwaru » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:15 pm

That's really interesting as far as the kids using the term wrestling, because even though lately it slips in infrequently if you were an alien watching this stuff you'd call them 'superstars' based on wwe programming. It's been said before but the whole 'superstars' 'sports entertainment' terms will never fully catch on no matter what they do. It's really evident that words like those are really just for vanity sake to stroke Vince's ego. One day when they write the full book on Vince (Sex lies and headlocks was neat, but so much happened since then) they're going to need a biblical sized section to psychoanalyze the man.

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by Rich Kraetsch » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:17 pm

Nathaniel Ledger wrote:Excellent article. On the whole, the effort to pretend that WWE isn't a wrestling company failed a long time ago. The language has evolved to a point where it's just, as a previous poster alluded to, headache inducing. The fact that the commentary team barely describe what's happening in the ring most of the time probably relieves them from having to stick to a list of acceptable words and phrases.

For all the years of the use of 'sports entertainment', 'Superstars' instead of wrestlers etc, when your average Joe (and Joanne) sits in the cinema this summer watching the new Amy Schumar movie 'Trainwreck' and they see John Cena, they're not going to say 'hey, that's that superstar from sports entertainment'.

Again, excellent read.
I think it was Dave Meltzer who brought up this bizzare but apt analogy a few months back.

Steak, everyone knows what steak is. We've ate it for years, it's a staple of a large percentage of the world's diet. Well, I decide I want to call steak oatmeal but I don't like the word steak. If I'm the only one still calling it oatmeal after years and years, what the hell am I doing? I'm a crazy man, I'm insane.

To give an example similar to Jove:

I was in the park with my dogs a few days ago and a little kid came over and tried to pet one of my dogs. The dog was scared because little kids are disgusting and he knew this but his natural way of playing is wrestling, so if you want to play with him, you gotta tackle him, play rough, etc. that's just how he likes to play. Anyway, I said "Oh I'm sorry, he doesn't want to get pet right now, he likes to wrestle." The kid replied with "WRESTLE?! I LOVE WRESTLING!" being the nice person I am (especially with his grandma sitting a few feet away), I engage him in a conversation about wrestling: who's your favorite wrestler, how long have you been watching, etc. Mind you, this kid is probably 7-8, maybe 9 tops. He never once uttered superstar or sports entertainment. It was wrestling, wrestler. He didn't even say WWE. To him WWE is "Wrestling" he doesn't know anything else.

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by Brandon Howard » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:25 am

Thanks for reading. I know it's asking a lot for readers to read something long, with end notes, especially on the internet.

It's becoming easier and easier to reason WWE would be much better off without Vince. If only he would retire to his yacht (named "Sexy Bitch").

The story of Vince these days is so complexly dysfunctional, meanwhile the stakes remain pretty high. To me it's probably the most fascinating story wrestling has ever told.

Great post by Jove too, talking about how accepted the language is by kids exposed to WWE programming. Would be great if there was a way to do an experiment somehow or some big survey assessing to what degree the language "works."

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by miles » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:45 am

Great article. Please write more like this!

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by Padje » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:22 pm

Rich Kraetsch wrote:
Nathaniel Ledger wrote:
I was in the park with my dogs a few days ago and a little kid came over and tried to pet one of my dogs. The dog was scared because little kids are disgusting and he knew this but his natural way of playing is wrestling, so if you want to play with him, you gotta tackle him, play rough, etc. that's just how he likes to play. Anyway, I said "Oh I'm sorry, he doesn't want to get pet right now, he likes to wrestle." The kid replied with "WRESTLE?! I LOVE WRESTLING!" being the nice person I am (especially with his grandma sitting a few feet away), I engage him in a conversation about wrestling: who's your favorite wrestler, how long have you been watching, etc. Mind you, this kid is probably 7-8, maybe 9 tops. He never once uttered superstar or sports entertainment. It was wrestling, wrestler. He didn't even say WWE. To him WWE is "Wrestling" he doesn't know anything else.
I think that's interesting. Not only has sports entertainment failed as a name, but people often don't refer to WWE even as its own name, choosing the generic idea of 'wrestling' instead, even if that's the only product they know of.

They should abandon the sports entertainment term altogether, and describe what they are and what they do as WWE, and perhaps set themselves on their way to becoming the proprietary eponym for the sport. In 2025 when Vince McMahon hears the phrase 'It's not TV. It's HBO' for the first time, maybe he'll go with "It's not wrestling. It's WWE"

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by suplexberry » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:42 pm

Very enjoyable read!

It's such a silly branding exercise that just won't die, it's kind of admirable. They're sticking to it, regardless of all evidence pointing to none of these terms catching on. People love new words, so the language is constantly evolving (googling, selfies, whatever other new words that aren't coming to my tired mind), but honestly the only words popular languages uses from the world of professional wrestling are terms that have been in used for a long, long while (I remember reading about a 'heel turn' for a TV show character, or the good old 'it didn't go over very well' example). You ask a man on the street about sports entertainment and in all likelihood they go "huh?". You ask about professional wrestling and they're at least going to have a point of view on it, whether nostalgic or derisive or puzzled that there still is professional wrestling.

The belt thing was very awkward when the IC belt literally became a prop recently. If somebody has the belt, but they didn't win it, they can't exactly hold the championship, so instead are they ..in possession of the championship that they stole? I did enjoy the Cena-Bryan feud leading up to 2013 Summerslam with Bryan cutting promos using the term "wrestler" explicitly. I know it was merely to cater to his existing fanbase, but it was a really good to establish the differences between the two babyfaces in the feud.

With all that silliness, I do think some "insider terms" should definitely be banned from the kayfabe environment. Made me cringe when Striker on Lucha Underground keeps mentioning "the story of this match" or "the subplot developing here.." - I don't need commentary to break the fourth wall like that when trying to follow a story.

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by Rich Kraetsch » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:37 pm

Padje wrote:
Rich Kraetsch wrote:
Nathaniel Ledger wrote:
I was in the park with my dogs a few days ago and a little kid came over and tried to pet one of my dogs. The dog was scared because little kids are disgusting and he knew this but his natural way of playing is wrestling, so if you want to play with him, you gotta tackle him, play rough, etc. that's just how he likes to play. Anyway, I said "Oh I'm sorry, he doesn't want to get pet right now, he likes to wrestle." The kid replied with "WRESTLE?! I LOVE WRESTLING!" being the nice person I am (especially with his grandma sitting a few feet away), I engage him in a conversation about wrestling: who's your favorite wrestler, how long have you been watching, etc. Mind you, this kid is probably 7-8, maybe 9 tops. He never once uttered superstar or sports entertainment. It was wrestling, wrestler. He didn't even say WWE. To him WWE is "Wrestling" he doesn't know anything else.
I think that's interesting. Not only has sports entertainment failed as a name, but people often don't refer to WWE even as its own name, choosing the generic idea of 'wrestling' instead, even if that's the only product they know of.

They should abandon the sports entertainment term altogether, and describe what they are and what they do as WWE, and perhaps set themselves on their way to becoming the proprietary eponym for the sport. In 2025 when Vince McMahon hears the phrase 'It's not TV. It's HBO' for the first time, maybe he'll go with "It's not wrestling. It's WWE"
Have you ever seen the WWE on Hulu ad? I don't recall the EXACT wording but it's essentially "I'm not a wrestling fan, I'm a WWE fan."

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Re: The Language of WWE

Post by Brandon Howard » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:32 pm

Rich Kraetsch wrote:Have you ever seen the WWE on Hulu ad? I don't recall the EXACT wording but it's essentially "I'm not a wrestling fan, I'm a WWE fan."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzltiVDVb5M

:shock:

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