Episode 433: 5 lessons I learned from Storytelling From Professional Wrestling With Todd Jones

Show Summary

Rob Cairns talks to Todd Jones about 5 lessons that he learned from Storytelling from Pro Wrestling.

Show Highlights:

  • 5 things learned.
  • There is always a villain.
  • Build-up takes time.

Article we reference: https://www.copyflight.com/5-lessons-storytelling-professional-wrestling/

Hey everybody, Rob Cairns here. And today we’re gonna do our segment copywriting with Mr. Todd E Jones. How are you, Todd?

I’m pretty good. So you know, getting later today, you start to get. A little tired, but I’m doing good.

Me too. Today I thought we talked about lessons learned. From your wrestling storytelling.

So, storytelling lessons I learned about storytelling from professional wrestling.

It’s like and it’s funny because you you talk about that in an article you you’ve written on company fights. So people can go find the article which is really good. And the first thing you talk about is you have to make them feel marketing and storytelling, both all about emotion.

Yeah, I think that’s how you do it. One of the ways you do it and I, you know, I think people are allergic to emotion all the time. But I mean, studies have shown over and over and over and over again that people are very emotional when they buy it. You’re sure? Do they research stuff? Yeah, absolutely they do. But whenever they’re ready to pull the trigger, it’s almost always some kind of emotional reason. Now, when I say emotional, I’m not talking about manipulative necessarily. I think one of the best emotions you can elicit from someone, especially in a beat OB setting, is trust. And if you don’t have that trust, you know the old saying. People do business with they with those they know like and trust so but. You and I. Grew up watching wrestlers in the 70s and 80s. We know, but this is before the ERA era. Of paid live events, they call it now. You know the big pay-per-view events. This is this is back. And so my reference point for this is Georgia Championship Wrestling. I watched as a kid. I know you watched the the the old AWA and the Toronto and Minnesota area.



The old international Wrestling at Grand Prix wrestling out Of Montreal. No, in French Sunday morning before.


And the second point you make is there’s always a villain. Isn’t that so true? Whether it’s wrestling stories, a movie, a novel, reading something on TV, or watching was a bad guy, isn’t it?

Yeah, yeah. And and it helps to know their origin story right there while they’re. A bad guy? I I talked about Ric Flair in the article, who was probably one of the greatest heels to to wrestle in professional wrestling. We had a lot of them and and in business there’s, there’s always a villain sometimes it’s. Your own self is villain. Sometimes it’s the villain you’re overcoming. The the problem you’re trying to solve as a business owner either to move the business forward or sometimes the business has started completely by solving the problem. You know, I couldn’t find what I needed so I I went ahead and did it myself. You see that a lot and I referenced in that Ordinance story podcast. Episode about Shark Tank you will hear all those kind of stories. You know, we we needed this, but we couldn’t find it. And so we created ourselves so that that becomes a villain. And so, you know, every everybody has villain animal. This and professional wrestling showcases that as well as anything.

And then we the Third Point, which is so true in again wrestling or any other novel you have to overcome some adversity somewhere, right?

Yeah. And you know, sometimes that adversity is the villain. And then that’s kind of what I was getting out with the last point. And certainly I tell the story and it’s it’s very complex and it lasts a long time. And I and I give a brief synopsis of it and still is very long in the. About the Cody Rhodes last two years, right? Three years ago at WrestleMania, he returns to WWE after being away for seven years and he the he returns to WrestleMania and like then, I think he was either Monday night or Friday night after that. I’m not sure he comes out to the ring and cuts the promo.


They call it a promo. Whenever a wrestler gets to ring and talks or backstage or whatever, and he tells, he explains why. And one reason he comes back is to to win the title, to win the big tip. No, no one in his family has ever won the highest title in the WWE, his dad held on to it for a couple of minutes when he won it in the 70s, but he won by count out, so he could not keep the. Title. Now interesting side note that was actually the WWW. Yeah. So it was a precursor to what became the WWF and then eventually the WWE. He was on loan to Vince McMahon senior. From the NBA for that match, we get those superstar Billy Graham and he won them by Kyle out. They actually handed him the title, he held it up, but then explained to him he couldn’t win the title. The title doesn’t change hands for count out. You have to you have to pin them or submit them. And so he didn’t get to win that. Cody’s brother Dustin was in WWE for many years and the highest hell he held was either tag team title or the Intercontinental Championship. But and Cody the same, but neither of none of them had ever held the highest title either. The World Height Championship or the undisputed championship. So he chased Roman Reigns for two years. He’s he started with the first year. He is fully documented. He he rips his PEC muscle, tears his Peck muscle. He actually wrestles the match with it like that. And it’s really kind of brutal to watch. He has his surgery and we think he’s out for months and he comes back at. In January the next year. For the Royal Rumble. And he wins the Royal Rumble. He chooses Roman Reigns, who’s the universal champion. We all thought. He was going to win in at Wrestle Mania, right? The story is. Going to pay? Off and he didn’t. And as soon as he got beat, I said to myself, they’re gonna do. It’s gonna take a little bit longer for him to win that story because it was very much like his dad. When his dad won the N.W.A title from Rick Flair. After chasing him for a couple of years. So they we went back to this again. He had this a a series of matches against the biggest, baddest alpha male in WWE that summer. Three matches, he won two of them and then he won the Royal Rumble again and then the Rock entered the picture. And he wanted to wrestle his cousin Roman Reigns instead of Cody. And anyway, it it got really convoluted at the end. But they put these roadblocks in the way that Cody the pay, the story paid off. And Cody did win the title at Wrestle Mania. Back in March. And so it was like a two year long Chase for Cody to win that title and that adversity he kept. He had this adversity, this big goal, and he had multiple adversities along the way, right, some that wasn’t even a part of the strip. Like he wouldn’t, you know, tearing the Peck that wasn’t. In the script, but it happened.

And then. #4 everybody likes a good comeback story. Don’t.

They yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s one of my favorite stories I tell about Ted Debiasi. Before he was the $1,000,000 man in the WWE. He was a baby face for a while and Georgia Championship Wrestling, and he and the junkyard dog were feuding with the Fabulous Freebirds, which all all five of those men are in in the WWE Hall of Fame, I do believe. And they had a spot, and I actually read the back story on this because I was curious and I won’t get into that. But it was very fascinating, this spot where Terry Gordy, Powderized DB Aussie in the concrete. He may have done it twice. He did at least once, which you know that you don’t do that, right. They didn’t have padding. On the floor. Back then in the in the studio where they did Georgia Championship Wrestling. He apologized on the concrete that the ring they get the 123, and then they commenced the pile drive them 2-3 more times. And so he. But according to the script, he broke his neck. He was out for months. And I remember. And I had to go look for this, rob, because, you know, I’m like probably. 10 or 11 years old, maybe whenever this happened. And maybe nine years old. I don’t know. It was like 81 or 82. So I was pushing. It might be 10-11 years old. He they had this vignette vignette. You know, it’s when they kind of behind the scenes look right and he’s in the hospital, he’s talking about the injury and then they start to show him starting to work out. And he’s starting to get stronger. And at the end of the video, if you remember at the time and your, your listeners will remember as well. The time fame, the song, the movie and the song by Irene Cara was hot, really hot, and that famed song is very much akin to the old rocky theme song right. It kind of gets you fired up. They were playing the fame song at the end. Of the video and I can always remember that. And so yeah, the comeback story there, there’s a lot of comeback stories. But that one just stuck out, stuck out me and I recapped that in the article.

You know, it’s funny. You talk about the fabulous Freebirds and we we all know and I don’t know if you noticed the free birds. Went at it with the Russo brothers around the same time period all over Quebec and it was so bad in those days, the Quebec Athletic Commission was kind of gone. Burns Pro Wrestling in the province would not allow steel cage match. They had to have the final match in Sudbury ON to get away with Quebec’s icing.

Oh, Heather still OK.

Entertainment laws. Yeah, it was that bad.

They they were some of the most villainous tag teams of, you know, of of that particular time. I mean, they just did some. And Terry Gordy was a big barrel chested man. I mean, he was really big and. Buddy Roberts was not a very big guy, but he was very sneaky and you know, they and then of course, he had Michael PS Hayes outside running around the ring and they had the the they called the Free bird rule. Right. You had three two of them. Any two of them could wrestle to defend their titles. And then the new day implemented that when they held the titles. Back about 10 years ago. And within with an homage to the fabulous Freebirds.

So yeah, and and this I I remembered the final match in Sudbury was so bad they aired it on Free TV like a couple weeks ago because they had to, because the rematch was held in the Montreal form. So here we go again. Right, you know. They’re trying to sell tickets in the big menu and so bad, Todd.

Thank you.

With the fake blood capsules, cause that’s what they used back in the day was blood capsules that they actually had to X out the wrestlers faces for 3/4 of their match on Public TV. That’s about it.

Because the blood.

Yeah. Yeah, it was absolutely absurd. And you could not show a match like that. To me. It’s it’s really. Yes, exactly. So they.

Was it because of the blood? Don’t usually do that on network TV unless of. Course you’re watching. EW, EW, have a has a tendency to do that a little. Yeah, because they’re they’re on cable TV and they kind of a lot of a lot of, like, N.W.A type stuff back. In the day but. There was an I quit match in the the the class, the castle between Cody Rhodes and. And AJ styles. And I’m thinking to myself, if Cody’s in a match like that, he’s always going to bleed. I mean, it’s just going to happen. And then AJ bled too, by the end of the match, so. But that tends to be reserved for the the premium live events and WWE for the most part.

Anyway, and then the fifth point you make, and I honestly think the fifth point should be the first point, but that’s my article. It’s keep it really simple. I think sometimes people over complicate stories and things. What do you think?

Yeah. So you’re not. You’re not totally understand. In the marketing world, they they like to point out, you know, the the old. Well it you know, it started with the a book that came out, I don’t know, 10 years ago maybe you know about using the hero’s journey, which it’s a brilliant. Format formula. It is we all if you don’t know the story Joseph Campbell wrote about it in the 60s, I believe it was. And then we kind of learned about it whenever it was revealed that George Lucas used that formula to do the Star Wars movie. And then I started looking at movies on the screen and I started seeing it everywhere. I was like, yeah, almost any kind of hero story. I was in the middle of watching a movie one time. Look at the screen go. That’s the hero’s journey. It was exactly. It was like King Arthur or something. And so that was being used. There’s lots of. Story archetypes, by the way, and those are great for doing a movie. A long, complex storyline for sure. But when you’re trying to do something on a website or even in wrestling gets complex too. It’s not so much that you can’t be complex, it’s that you don’t want to stray too. Far from the. Familiar, right? If you go way outside the box. People. You lose people so that and then you confuse them. It’s exactly the the, the the, the quote used from straight from Jeff Jarrett which he got straight. From I wanna say his grandmother. But they said if you confuse him, you lose him. And I wanna say if you confuse, you lose and that there’s a lot of truth to that. So, you know, don’t stray too far from from the familiar. When you if you are using in a like a cinematic production you are using the hero’s journey. It’s familiar. People have seen it. I talk about the Assassin’s story because the Assassin’s story is everywhere. Anytime you watch any kind of assassin movie. I hope I don’t get your podcast banned by using that word, but John Wick or anything else the the Assassin’s story is almost always the same. You know it’s a guy or gal I’ve seen some with women who had a role as an assassin and they leave the industry somehow.


They get out of the industry and then usually the bad guys. Yeah, the bad guys will kidnap or kill or something, a family member and they pulls them back in and they have to get justice, you know, and that I’ve seen that play out.

Then we get.

Over and over. Again, I even saw it play out. And ohh the movie A while back called Mr. Nobody or something like that. Nobody I think. And it turned out he was like a CIA with special skills. But he had he had fallen into a lot of boredom. He’s a family man and all that. And he had to, you know, bring his skills back out, you know. So that’s I call those assassins. Storyline because it’s what? You see a lot in those types of movies. I don’t have any problem with using the complex storyline. I just think you don’t want to straight too far from the familiar. If you go too far outside of the box, you will confuse people. And then as Jeff says, you will lose people. So really when you watch wrestling, yeah, there’s there’s. There’s complex story lines, but they pretty much stick to the familiar like in in almost every match there’s a a baby face, a good guy. A good girl. And there’s a there’s a heel, the bad guy, the bad girl. Almost always. There was a mass at the class of the castle for the world title. Where on paper. Both of them were heels. Drew McIntyre was a heel. And Damien Priest was a heel. But because they were having it in Scotland. And Drew was from Scotland. At least for this PLX, he was clearly the baby face the fans are cheering for him, but you just don’t want to stray too far outside of that familiar.

And then and then there’s been the odd match where you’ve had two good guys or even better, when the heels win the match and then won at the Good Guys turns on. The other guy and and then you have a third heel right in the middle.

Yeah. The other good guy. Of it all. Yeah, well. Yeah, that that happened a lot, especially would happen to see, but in in recent years, in the last year, I think it was. They were looking for a way to ride on to Rousey off TV in the WWE because she was leaving and she was A tag team partner. In fact, they were the tag champs on the women’s side, Shannon Hasler. And who is? They’re both former UFC fighters, and Shana turned on Ron. And now, in the most days, that would make her heal. But not in this instance that actually the fans wanted that and they were cheering her. So when they had the last match, Shanna was clearly the baby face. But she’s much more natural. Heal. I think she has since then sort of kind of reverted back to heal, but anyway.

No. So what we’re gonna do is we’ve kind of broke the story down. I’ll link to the story in the show notes. Go read it. It’s on the copy flight blog. Go read Todd’s blog. Go read it now, please. And someone wants to talk to you about storytelling. Todd, how’s the best way?

Pay me on Twitter. Pay me on Facebook or LinkedIn and you know and then or you can send me a message through the copy flight website. Tell me, you know storytelling, you know, wrestling is just one area we see storytelling. I like it music. There’s a lot of storytelling in music. And so I like the stories and the stories behind music is fascinating to. Me as well. And certainly, movies and TV shows and just, you know, and and I like to talk about that, you know, and elements of storytelling and and various, you know, cultural references and feel free to. Tell me you know what it is you like to to engage your storytelling in. That’s that’s interesting to me.

Have a great day, Todd. Thanks for joining me.

Thank you. Have a good one.

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