Professional wrestling is at its zenith when the mix of physicality, narrative and subterfuge are in perfect balance. Usually that plays out on TV or in the ring, but through their YouTube show Being The Elite, the Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson, have woven a tapestry of storytelling that currently has no rival within the business.
Before the Hardys stepped into an ROH ring in March, before Vanguard 1 was brutally dismantled by a pair of superkicks, the Young Bucks were using their social media and their YouTube show to push the feud between the two teams. Irreverent humor has been the duo’s trademark since their ascendency to the upper echelon of tag team wrestling, and it was their witty repartee on Twitter coupled with the braggadocio that dominated their show that set the stage for the Hardys’ surprise appearance on the screen at Final Battle. That ultimately culminated in a historic ladder match between two teams that each claim to be the greatest team of all time. The success of the program was built on the fame and reputation that both teams have developed over the years, but it was shepherded along the whole way by the Young Bucks and their Youtube show. That knack for creating a compelling narrative and furthering their official storylines has placed them head and shoulders above all other wrestling talent in their use of free platforms to draw in more fans. For proof, look no further than the last month of episodes that have been published on their YouTube channel, and specifically the very latest one.
With Adam Cole headed to free agency and a possible jump to WWE, the Super Kliq, comprised of Cole and The Bucks, seemed to be headed for a breakup. After Cole lost the ROH World Championship to Christopher Daniels at this year’s 15th Anniversary show, he lambasted his friends and fired them from the group in a fit of childish rage, only to apologize for his behavior afterwards. Through Being The Elite the fans were privy to the phone calls Cole made and the messages he left, extolling his friends to forgive his gaffe. Overlaid with tunes akin to the Incredible Hulk’s credit scene music, Matt struggled in front of everyone’s eyes to deal with the grievous wound Cole had dealt him and his brother.
Over the course of the last few weeks all seemed hunky dory on ROH programming, but the YouTube show fleshed out a tale of bubbling distrust, while Marty Scurll began to make just as many appearances on the show as Cole. Thusly, the wheels were in motion for what would transpire at last weekend’s War of the Worlds PPV. After Cole lost his match with Hiroshi Tanahashi, the Bucks came to bid their friend farewell as the crowd chanted “Thank You, Adam” over and over again. In a scene reminiscent of the Kliq’s Madison Square Garden “Curtain Call”, a mere three blocks from where it occurred, the three embraced and threw up Too Sweets in a touching moment—until the arena went dark.
Kenny Omega, the Bullet Club’s leader, appeared on screen and publicly fired Cole while welcoming a new member to the group. As the arena lights came back on Marty Scurll was in the ring. The Bucks waylaid Cole with superkicks before Scurll opened his umbrella and revealed that he was indeed in the Bullet Club. Many were shocked, but the Young Bucks had been dropping hints of this on their episodes all along. Cole admitted on the show a few weeks ago to Scurll that he had poisoned Nick Jackson intentionally. The cracks were there for everyone to see and it was all pieced together in the last chapter as clips were put together, including never before seen footage of discussions between Omega and the Bucks, as well as Scurll and the Bucks. The package showed the brilliance of using YouTube to reveal the “truth” of the Bucks’ lives, when in all actuality it was just another avenue to unfurl their narrative, developing it at their pace with careful clues that would fit together perfectly in the end.
Other promotions and wrestlers have used YouTube to develop characters or advance feuds, but few have used it to develop stories as intricately and delicately as the Bucks have. It is this careful planning, attention to detail and warping of reality that elevate the Young Bucks past the level of what their detractors say they are. The two are not simply a collection of great spots in the ring, but rather two storytellers with the dedication to developing narratives with panache that is unrivaled by any company and any talent working today.
Rich Laconi is a writer whose specialty lies in professional wrestling. Aside from his work being found regularly at PWPonderings.com, LastWordOnProwresting.com and ROHWorld.com, you can follow him on Twitter and listen to him on RunningWildpodcast.com.