The October 25 edition of WWE NXT seemed like a “restart” of sorts. Coming out of Halloween Havoc there were multiple vignettes for new characters and the debut of Ava Raine (yes, the daughter of one The Rock). Yet, all these recent characters, returns, and vignettes lean heavily on the spooky, cult-ish, or “hacker-bro” motifs. It is time for WWE to invest in some new and original character archetypes.
Raine stood next to Joe Gacy, leader of Schism, and joined in on a verbose promo that has become commonplace for this group. This was the same night that saw another tease for Dominik Dijakovic’s return and a mysterious voicemail from another individual named SCRYPTS. All of this comes on the heels of multiple other characters that fit a similar bill.
For example, take The Judgement Day which started as a “spooky” cult under Edge and didn’t get the best reception when first introduced. That led to Finn Balor taking over and the group slowly changing to fit more of what was seen in The Club/Bullet Club, more to the enjoyment of viewers and fans. Oh yeah and remember when Edge returned after they turned on him – WWE leaned on dark and brooding vignettes to tease and announce his return.
And of course, this conversation can’t happen without mentioning Bray Wyatt. Wyatt’s return was one of the biggest moments in wrestling this year. He’s what many would consider the apex of melding wrestling with horror-type storytelling and while opinions of how it works may differ, he still stands as one of the best to do it.
These examples point to WWE’s tendency to lean on a specific character type that seems to be overdone at this time. It’s akin to the women’s heel that only denigrates the looks of her opponents as if that’s the only reason women can feud or the depth of what makes them a character. It’s clear that isn’t the answer, especially looking across other forms of media and entertainment where there’s a full and diverse set of characters to draw in viewers and customers.
WWE has even shown an ability to create new character types that fans tend to enjoy. Take Wendy Choo for example. Choo is someone that fans quickly supported and she has shown that she fits into what makes one a WWE superstar. And she’s played drastically diverse types of characters within NXT alone.
Even outside of WWE, Orange Cassidy is another example of a character that doesn’t fit within the same standards that professional wrestling tends to present but has worked well in the eyes of fans.
There are a lot of things that WWE gets right when it comes to the presentation of its superstars. But one place where there’s a need for improvement is expanding the types of characters that performers present on television. Everyone doesn’t need to be in a cult, dark and brooding, or some other played stereotypes. There are other characters out there ready to come to the world of wrestling.