“Nobody can promote yourself better than yourself.”
–Former professional wrestler, Universal Heartthrob Austin Idol
Even being in the realm of following politics badly, no matter who you are, it’s safe to say that we have a very interesting President currently. He has a very peculiar resume and a background unlike any other President in American history that would even put a former Hollywood actor to shame. Aside from his business endeavors, Donald Trump’s career as an entertainment personality began a long time ago. Gaining access to your living room television sets slowly by promoting and sponsoring boxing matches and events at his venues. Then evolving his presence more into cameo appearances in movies, T.V., and then eventually getting his own reality show that somehow lasted an unfortunately whopping 14 seasons! Within that time, however, Trump made himself known in another world of entertainment, sports entertainment. Specifically, World Wrestling Entertainment, or, the WWE. The ever-so-popular spectacle of professional wrestling: the dude version of ballet that is as exhilarating as it is fun and over the top ridiculous, and a very likely option to be the perfect place for Trump to extend his screen time popularity. Naturally, it did just that. He himself, our President, even was on the receiving end of a wrestling move called the “stone cold stunner”.
You read correctly.
Although, it seems like this wasn’t just an opportunity to get his mug in front of the camera, but also a learning experience for him as well. A lot of things that he does in front of cameras, and did on his campaign trail, have a lot of similarities to how wrestlers back in the 70’s and 80’s used to create their promotional videos, develop their personas, and to talk smack about their opponent. Ultimately, the end all was to hype up the big fight at the end of the month. Now I must ask, what bigger fight to hype up in this country is there other than the fight to become President of the United States?
For the most part, everyone knows by now that the sport of professional wrestling is fixed. Yes gravity is real and the athletes that participate do sustain countless physical injuries, but in the end, all winners are predetermined. That mixed with the story lines that they incorporate, it is essentially a soap opera for guys that involves a figure four leg lock every now and again. Though before the cat was out of the bag and a lot of wrestling secrets were exposed, wrestling was a very real thing to a very dedicated fan base throughout America and still is to this day. There was a great deal of psychology involved in gaining people’s approval and disapproval in a very short amount of T.V. time. A big part of gathering such a dedicated fan base was not only the action inside of the ring, but also mainly the promotional interviews that were made by the wrestlers and the relationships they formed with crowds through the fight between good and evil Professional wrestling like most other stories with conflict are divided between two things. The baby faces (good guys) and the heels (bad guys). The heels are always going to antagonize audiences as much as possible in their interviews and threaten and shit talk in every which way possible to gain the most amount of heat with the crowd and brag about how badly they are going to destroy their weak opponent. The baby face, on the other hand, is also going to brag about how they will destroy their opponent but only in the way of good and for the people and they’re going to take the path of righteousness and beat evil fair and square. Mostly if you were going to be a baby face in the industry and cut a promo there were three main objectives you had to follow in order to gain the favor of the crowd: You had to go out and say what people wish they could say if they had the platform. Then you tell them that you’re going to agree with them and then you’re going to tell them that you’re going to do something about it. These three objectives of being a baby face in the wrestling business are exactly how Donald Trump ran his political campaign.
Now let us have some fun and imagine Trump as a professional wrestler and his approach to winning the presidency against Hilary Clinton using the pro wrestling technique. With his background and automatic perception that people have of him, he has to do everything he can to present himself as the good guy, or in this case, go from heel and turn face. Trump already is someone that bases himself around the motto of “perception is reality”. It’s all about the presentation. He’s a person that likes to project themselves much like a wrestler has to project their image to the masses to make them believe what they want them to believe about themselves whether they like it or not. A lot of the times it is not so much about what you say but how you say it with conviction. Although a lot of what he says may not be believable or make sense, it makes sense to him and there is still the wrastlin’ audience that will follow him because they know that he believes it because he projects it. Still, even when he is lying, people will still not care about it because when you’re fighting in the name of the baby face, no matter what you’re doing, it’s for the greater good, much like when you would see Hulk Hogan use a folding chair as a weapon or do something mischievous to cheat and win a match. Hogan was America’s good guy in the ring; It didn’t matter how he won just as long as he won like he had promised, and he did what it took to get the victory.
Majority of all pro wrestling promos were based on promises; Whether they were impossible or not, if you could guarantee that you were going to do something, the audience believed you. Trump had made extravagant promises of defeating ISIS in a short amount of time, building a wall along the Mexican border, creating endless amounts of new jobs, locking Clinton up in jail, and a plethora of off the cuff ideas to win the favor of the wrastlin’ crowds. These were all building blocks for promoting the big event and fight against Clinton for the race to the white house. Trump even helped his baby face gimmick by establishing his opponent as the clear cut heel by branding Clinton with the nickname of “Crooked Hillary” and implanting a stigma in everyone’s brain. Any time people would hear Clinton’s name, no matter the context and no matter how positive, the title Crooked Hillary always lingered in the back of the brain and was subconsciously associating Clinton with being a crooked politician and making her the heel. He had proclaimed victory from near the very beginning, ensuring people that he was going to be the one to take back the title of the White House for America and make it great again. Not only great, but great in whatever way you wanted it to be great because again, a wrestler doesn’t have to explain how they’re going to achieve victory, they’re just going to tell you they are going to do it.
There was one last aspect that old wrestlers had to take in into consideration when cutting a promo, and it was that they have no script, and they have one shot at making this interview pop because it’s on live television. Trump took a very similar approach in the sense that he loved to brag about how he never like to use teleprompters, and that all of his opponents’ approaches to talking to America was wrong. The majority of all wrestling interviews are improvised and made up on the spot. Promoters would tell their wrestlers to get your main talking points in your head and then bullshit your way in between the rest. It shows in countless speeches that Trump had taken this approach and distributed a lot of fan service to the voters he was reaching out to: the simpler times crowds. The people that were not political analysts by any means, but people that lived their day to day lives and worked their jobs and wanted simple solutions and answers that were not pre-packaged and scripted for the most part. It’s that type of wrestling promotion mentality that won them over and spoke to them personally because they were more familiar with someone barking at them like a wrestler than they were with a career politician speaking more than single syllable words that were thought out ahead of time.
Our President, much like a wrestler, will say anything they have to in order to get what they want, to achieve victory and acceptance by a large audience, and gain the favor of all that will listen no matter the situation. He has been involved with the WWE and Vince McMahon for quite some time and had even appointed Vince’s wife, Linda McMahon, as a part of his cabinet. There are endless amounts of parallels between our President and the wrestling world. It’s all one big promo event gaining momentum for whatever the next pay-per-view is going to be. He may be a very unorthodox President and one of the more absurd individuals to ever be our commander in chief. Trump, in a lot of ways, has been accused of making a mockery of our electoral process and making a spectacle out of the campaign trail and soiling American tradition. However, in an insane way, he wasn’t trying to make a mockery of it all. He was just approaching it like a wrestling match, trying to sell some hats, get you to like him as much as he likes himself, and to make a name for himself as a baby face in the political world.