Our next guest blogger is Skylar Green, handler of Vangellus Oxios in PRIME most recently. He's got another sort of follow up to his fellow PRIMEate Dave's blog, and like his and Shane's, this one's a must read, folks.
by Sklyar Green, special guest to RRoaEL
I've spent most of my 5/6 years of e-wrestling in the Primetime Central community (and whatever was associated with it). Over that way, there's been a bit of a shift in RPing philosophy from time to time, usually not much that affects the overall movement of the feds except for community events such as iPPVs, tournaments, or the Infinite Gauntlet. But in the entire time that I've been handling over there, whichever feds that I've been in, the emphasis was on roleplaying to win matched. And the method by which you'd win an RP match in an RP fed over that way was by telling the most entertaining story with your character. You usually didn't have to make mention of your upcoming match or opponent, but there were exceptions. Normally it would be a good idea to give some kind of thought to opponents in the case of heated feuds. You dislike somebody that much and all those thoughts, or they've got hatred toward you, and it's gonna follow you home regardless. But most of the time, with exhibition matches, you could just do whatever and that would be fine enough so long as you had a good story.
Now, PTC provides satisfaction mostly for the “writing” itch, although I believe that I'm someone in a stuck-mode. Taking from David's (Snow) blog, I consider myself something of a hybrid writer, or maybe somebody who's just been writing in the 2002/2003 way if I had a choice in the matter. I've had to adapt my roleplaying, and I haven't really complained much about it, but David was spot on when he says that the “writers” have hijacked the place. I'll admit that I find I'd go nuts if I attempted to do a roleplay that's nothing but Wrestler A sitting in a dark room cutting a promo, but at the same time I do my best to connect my wrestler's story to the fact that they're actually a wrestler. It's been reflected in the last three characters that I've written.
Silvio Fiore is an old-school wrestling character. He joined his first federation (Death Row Wrestling Federation, over in Projekt X) by way of a developmental contract. The fed had him trained and in the meantime he traveled with the show, helping with the crew to set up the ring, ramp, and whatever else they had him do. The President and CEO of the fed only brought Silvio in when he thought that that Fiore could add to the product. Because of a physical condition that prevented him from feeling pain despite the fact that he was small by pro wrestling standards, they brought him in early. So he was a kid with a GED, undertrained, in over his head. The roleplays and the segments linked together to tell the story of a thoughtful, even-tempered country boy who would have to adapt to an environment that was much less friendly than what he was used to. The bulk of his rude awakening had to take place on the shows; roleplays were training and his reactions to the federation because with him driving to and from the shows and getting training in the meantime, he didn't have time in his life for much else that would involve a novel-level story progression.
In PRIME, Vangellus Oxios found a good tag team partner and friend in Scott Matthews. The man was a monster in size, and had anger problems, but he was still a down-to-earth guy who was trying to support his family and find a normal life as he really didn't have growing up. Did Oxios have crazy stuff going on in his RPs? Sure he did, but that was mostly in playful contrast to what Matthews was doing. But even so, they were both wrestling characters. Their whole team was tossed together spur-of-the-moment, and neither was much of an expert in the ring (Matthews being purely power, and Oxios being more of a kickboxer with a strong head but a weak neck). Each man was determined, however, to stick it out for the long haul and make it work. They sought out a trainer and worked to improve. They made themselves into a media-friendly group, with both men playing to their strengths (Oxios the more experienced media darling of the two). Matthews needed help with personal problems and Oxios was there for him. Vangellus came out of the closet to his 'uncomfortable around gays' partner, but Scott remained his tag partner and friend because they had both become emotionally vested in each other and seeing each other succeed as a team. Their chemistry on the show could only work as well as it did because their story was all about their bonding and trials as friends and tag partners, and their desire to improve themselves as people and as wrestlers as well, and all of that was in roleplays.
In GCW, anybody who's read my work has learned the most about Ciel in segments that I write for the show because his interactions with the other members of the roster are just as telling of his personality as if he was just at home with his family. Nowhere in my roleplays have I mentioned that Ciel doesn't like to look directly down at shorter women because it's too easy for his eyes to wander down to their chests (he avoids doing that as a sign of respect). The roleplays I've done have said nothing of him having a degree in anthropology, thus allowing him a good deal of ability to effectively analyze the meta-society that professional wrestling builds around itself. And people can scan his history or RPs all they like, but nobody would actually know that Ciel has an affinity for sitting out in the hallways and listening to his iPod before matches because that would never come up outside of work. Roleplays aren't concerned with that because he's a single father with three kids to take care of; he's dealing with homework, cooking, and other household concerns that most wrestlers don't have to worry about to such an extent. If you want to learn about what motivates Ciel to wrestle, you read his RPs. If you want to see what kind of wrestler he is, you read the shows.
I always put a premium on having a substantive link between RPs, segments, and matches. That doesn't mean that it's just got to be wrestling all the time in everything a person ever does, but at the same time I do believe that I can have the best chance of entertaining the largest audience possible if I give the wrestling aficionados something to enjoy, and give the writing junkies something to hitch their wagon to. At the same time, I never want to create a character that a person can just totally “skip” part of their presentation. If something's introduced in an RP, there's a chance that it'll influence something on the show, so hey, read that too if you liked it and vice-versa. And that being the way that I write, that's how I read as well.
Overall, that highly influences the way that I read PTC, and why I rarely give RP feedback anymore (if I do, it's just technical stuff). Don't get me wrong, I don't mind reading RPs, but for me I still work in e-wrestling because I'm trying to portray a wrestler. I can go to Ezboard or Invisionfree roleplaying areas and depict a human being who is only 5% concerned with wrestling in their lives. I mean, I always give my characters other marketable talents (Silvio Fiore could easily work crew, or scouting; Vangellus Oxios is an international product shill and successful kickboxer; Ciel trains in wrestling, writes for his local paper, and serves as a mediator within his community). Nothing's stopping them from doing other things, but they've got to absolutely, totally, 200% *love* wrestling if they're willing to put themselves through the abuse and travel schedules and personal appearances.
A lot of what I see when I look out there… I see people who really don't need to be wrestlers. Characters who are wrestling, sure, but you take a look at the stories surrounding them and I couldn't tell you for the life of me why they're wasting their time wrestling when it clearly isn't the personal or even the professional interest in their lives. What is it about them? Do they just get off on people cheering for them? Attention whores who need to have millions of eyes on them? Sadists who want the legal indemnity that wrestling often provides them? Getting rich quick is worth the short-term pain and suffering? What is it?
Go ahead, wrap your character up in a very compellingly-produced murder mystery that spans continents and has conspiracies and plot twists at every turn. Never in your life (or mine, for that matter) will I call you a bad writer because of that alone. At the same understand that I might won't care enough, based on that alone, to want you to win a match against your random opponent Bixby Briggs because the two things have no real connection. And further understand that you may have a very well-organized wrestling feud on the shows, and I'll commend you for it, but if your roleplays seem to take place in another world altogether, I'm probably not going to get the maximum enjoyment out of your e-wrestling character as I would if the two things had some kind of link.
What was I even trying to say here? Honestly, I just started typing and whatever I had in mind came onto the page. But I guess if I had a point, it would be that David was right; the writers have taken over in PTC. But that doesn't mean that nothing can be done about it. It'd be supreme hubris to consider PTC as “complete;” without anymore room or need to expand or alter its philosophies. The writers don't have to stop, but rather I consider things to have gone on a pendulum swing from one extreme to the next. Whereas in the past you have roleplays where all a guy talked about was his opponent, now you have RPs where many people don't even remind you by the end of their work for the week that their character even wrestles for a living. It's not everybody, I readily admit that. However, what I believe would be very good is to attempt to reach more of an equilibrium state reached between the two RPing styles rather than just going from one extreme to another and considering the shift to be linear and at an end to the progression. Some people have that, some people don't; I say for myself, at least, that a balance, or at least a greater emphasis on the fact that one's character is a wrestler at all (in RPs) would be a great boon to things in PTC overall and allow for another boom (even if a smaller one than before) in membership. But that's just me.