The first rule of narrative – of storytelling of any kind, in any medium or format or genre, from the weightiest novel to the flimsiest comic book to that little white lie you told your mum – is the suspension of disbelief.
Without that rule in place, your story doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter what kind of story it is: unless your target audience are prepared to go along for the ride, it doesn’t matter how fast the car goes and how shiny it looks. Professional wrestling also stands or falls by that first rule of narrative: since this is a story about a combat sport, and not genuine competition, our perception of the outcome of the matches the characters pretend to have is key to maintaining that vital suspension of disbelief.
And when the finish to a match doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, it screws everything up. It affects how you remember the ten to thirty minutes of wrestling you’ve just seen. It affects your understanding of the characters involved and your interest in seeing what happens to them next. Most of all, it drags you out of the soothing bath of your suspension of disbelief, bringing you face to face with the fundamental ridiculousness of the spectacle you’re trying to enjoy.
When the finish to the match you’re watching is a sack of unhappy crap, it ruins wrestling for everyone. Here’s ten of the worst examples of what we’re talking about in recent WWE programming.