The storylines, which set out the feuds and alliances that explain what goes on in the wrestling ring, are at least as important as the wrestling itself. The storylines are as turgid as any soap opera, containing "good" and "bad" characters, as well as characters that switch allegiances or team up against a third party. We're surprised that amnesia and evil twins don't play a stronger role. We'll talk more about the storylines in a second, but the main thing to know is that watching pro wrestling is just like watching The Practice, only instead of lawyers in suits in a courtroom battling each other, the lawyers wear speedos and go mano-a-mano.

To many fans, the storylines are more interesting than the wrestling. The effective use of storylines to enhance interest in professional wrestling was pioneered and perfected by Vince McMahon, the best promoter in the history of the wrestling business. Pro wrestling is, to use a phrase coined by Mr. McMahon, "sports entertainment." It can't be called a sport, because nobody is really engaging in a competition (to bet on pro wrestling would be ridiculous, because the outcome is already decided); but it is an entertaining charade of what a sport might be like in a world of ridiculously obnoxious, melodramatic, aggressive people. The ingenious storylines present us with hilarious morality plays, absurd situations, gratuitous titillation, and good old-fashioned machismo.

Storylines are mostly composed of gimmicks, feuds, and angles. A gimmick is a wrestler's, or a group of wrestlers', story or theme that can be summed up in a sentence. For example, Stone Cold Steve Austin is a mean, beer-swilling jerk from Texas who doesn't take any crap from anyone. There's more to his character than that, but that's his basic gimmick. A feud simply describes the fact that two or more wrestlers are, at this point in the storyline, angry with each other and fighting frequently. For example, if Mankind and the Undertaker are continually talking about each other and fighting or interfering in each other's matches, then they are feuding. The reason why they're feuding is called an angle, and the angles are what make the storylines interesting. For example, at present, The Big Show is fighting The Rock because he believes that The Rock cheated in their match at The Royal Rumble. The only limits on angles are set by the writers' and promoters' imaginations. To sum up, a gimmick is who the wrestler is, a feud is who is fighting whom, and the angle is the reason for the feud. And yes, we do realize that the names are bizarre.

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