Did Trump use "pro wrestling" to win the election?
Donald Trump makes a statement, or posts a controversial tweet, at 3 a.m. Half the country cheers in support; the other half are left angry. Many talking heads in the media spend hours trying to understand, just what it is people like about the newly elected President. Left baffled, commentators give their opinions, yet none describe just how Trump is now the most powerful man in the world. The answer to this question might just be a system used by professional wrestling for decades.
The job of a professional wrestler is to get crowd reaction. This reaction is either good or bad, based on the role you play. In the business you’re either a heel, or a face. The role of the heel is to be a “bad” guy. The object is to get the audience to “boo” you and get angry; the face is just the opposite. The success of the wrestler is dependent on what role they are playing at the time, and how much reaction they get from the crowd. In this business a face wouldn’t want the crowd to boo them, as that would be seen as a failure to “get over” or be liked by the crowd. The heel, while intentionally acting to be disliked will still gain a following and fan-base. (I will focus on the heel as that’s the role Trump is currently playing)
1) The “Turn” (from face to heel)
Some heels don’t start out as the bad guy. For many, there comes a point when they turn from a face, to a heel. The turn is usually established by attacking their friend, or another face. Trump, who held fairly liberal views up until a few years ago began his turn when he started attacking President Obama. Trump’s tweets on the validity of Obama’s electoral win began the storyline. To solidify the turn, Trump would align himself with other heels, as he pursued the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate, and his Presidency.
Part of the turn is Envy. In wrestling the heel displays anger, as he always gets pushed aside in order to please the fans. Every heel proclaims they will no longer be pushed around, and the days of pleasing the crowd are over. Trump proclaimed America won’t be pushed around. Over the course of his campaign he made it clear nothing would stop America from winning again!
2) Blame the crowd and the face
The heel must solidify his position by not only insulting the face, but the fans. Trump has mocked reporters, insulted women, attacked immigrants, and opposed anyone who didn’t agree with him. Most would see these actions as an immediate disqualification. The media reported on these issues almost 24/7. This is the reaction the heel needs. The louder and angrier the crowd, the more successful the wrestler. Trump mastered the media. No matter what he did they covered it. The more people he insulted, the more the crowd got angry, and just like in wrestling, Trump’s popularity skyrocketed.
3) Work the commentators
Pro wrestling uses commentators to narrate the story for the fans. In many ways the media acts as commentators telling the story of politics. Much like the wrestler, the commentators have both heels, and faces. The heel commentators will often praise the actions of the heel, while the face will shame their actions. The commentators are often the voices you hear while the wrestler is performing. The modern media acts the same way, often with two sides to the same story. In order to keep the gimmick going the wrestler will interact with the commentators. Usually calling out the face for the inaccurate and horrible job they are doing, while giving praise to the favorable heel. Commentary is arguably one of the most important parts of this role. Without commentary the wrestler would lose steam as the attention would be pulled from them.
This theory may seem farfetched. Remember Trump’s close friend and campaign donor is Vince McMahon, CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly WWF) and further, Linda McMahon, his wife, is now head of Trump’s Small Business Administration. Trump himself is very close to the world of professional wrestling and has actually participated in the wrestling promotion; in fact he’s a member of the WWE hall of fame.