Where is the Element of Surprise in Pro Wrestling?
Remember when, just a few years ago, us wrestling fans tuned in to wrestling week after week to see the what the writers could come up with next?
Back then, to me anyway, wrestling was as unpredictable as the lottery.
In this day in age we have wrestling insider sites that give us the full details on what to expect in the coming weeks and months of WWE and TNA television. Just a few years back, these sites were not as common, and more often than not, you had to wait until Raw, Nitro, Smackdown, etc. to see what would really take place.
Scott Hall debuting in WCW, and then later bringing Kevin Nash to the WCW audience, then proceeding to form the NWO with Hulk Hogan pretty much took just about every wrestling fan by surprise.
Today, any wrestling fan can visit and insider website and it will tell you something along the lines of "Christian Cage Set to Sign with WWE," and then proceed to tell you a number of storylines that he may be involved in.
With sources like these, it's hard for the creative teams to keep fans on edge. Online sources are by no means the only reason for the surprise element being eliminated from wrestling for the most part.
The WWE and TNA creative teams have shown a lack of creativity recently when it comes to creating storylines. Jeff Hardy and his fiancee involved in a mysterious hit-and-run? This storyline sounds oddly familiar (who ran over Stone Cold).
From what I gather from a few websites, including fellow writers here on Bleacher Report, this is supposedly a way for Christian to re-debut in the WWE. Apparently he ran into Hardy and his fiancee as basically a mercenary for Edge. Christian as Edge's lackey? What is surprising about that.
I think it would actually be interesting this time around if it was really Rikishi who had ran into Hardy. It sets up a storyline where Rikishi admits that he either has a bad case of road rage, or that he needs a person over the age of twenty-one sitting in the passenger seat at all times until he learns how to spot pedestrians walking in a parking garage and how to master the three second space cushion.
It is currently the year 2009, so yes, I would expect wrestling to be different from how it was in 1998-2001. Back then, there was actual competition going on. Every show had to be a quality show. If you dropped the ball on one show, you could see your ratings plummet in a heart beat, which would likely spell the end of your time a top the wrestling ladder.
When talking to a friend who had moved four years ago, i asked him if he still watched wrestling. He said no because "it got predictable after a while." I think ninety percent of wrestling fans will agree with that statement. The other ten percent probably just began watching wrestling, or are eight years old.
Although it may be hard to come up with new material, fans shouldn't be tuning out because you are making your product too predictable.
Remember when you couldn't miss an episode of RAW back in 1999? Every episode was different from the one that came before it. In today's wrestling, you could probably stop watching three weeks at a time, tune in the fourth week, and find yourself in the same spot that you were in a month ago.
As the days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn into years, how much longer do the "creative" staffs of the wrestling industry believe that we will tune in to see the same thing over and over again. If we wanted repetition, we'd be better off watching Saved by the Bell re-runs.
Remember when The Rock surprisingly came to the aid of Eugene? Kane's first unmasking, only to be revealed as The Undertaker in Kane's costume? The simultaneous telecast of Raw and Nitro where, according to Hurricane Helms, not even the wrestlers had a clue of what was going on?
What about Mick Foley falling off of the top of the Hell in the Cell through the announcer table? I don't think many wrestling fans could have told you that events like these would happen.
How often in Sting going to win the TNA Championship at Bound for Glory? How many times will John Cena be given the World/WWE Championship. How long will we have to sit through seeing Triple H being pushed above all others? How predictable is Undertaker winning at Wrestlemania (I actually don't have much of a problem with this one)?
Is it too much to ask to be surprised just a little more often?
Trsih Stratus one night return on the Raw before Christmas was a genuine shock. I expected John Cena's partner to be the likes of Kelly Kelly or another Raw diva. Instead we saw Trish for the first time in two years, and she looked okay for someone who hadn't wrestled in the WWE in about two years.
Jay Lethal and Consequences Creed winning the TNA Tag Team Titles weren't so much of a shock as they were a pleasant change. If I had to bet on it, I would have told you that Robert Roode was playing possum, and that he would magically be healed and succeed in attacking Jay Lethal out of nowhere to retain the titles with James Storm.
Tops on my list of unpleasant swerves is Randy Orton being Kelly Kelly's boyfriend. This storyline could have set up a decent upper mid-card feud between CM Punk and Kane, but instead pits Kane against Orton, both of whom are heels. Their match will probably be a one-off, and the storyline will be put to rest. WWE can then pretend as if it never existed. They do it all the time anyway.
Wrestling has obviously hit a stale point for many. I know that I'm caught inbetween, I will stick with wrestling for as long as I can, but how long can I watch the same episode with a different cast week after week, month after month, year after year. For wrestling I have one question:
Where is the element of surprise?
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