WWE SmackDown quickly became one of the most debated shows in wrestling even before it aired last night. WWE.com announced Alberto Del Rio's World Heavyweight Championship victory over The Big Show Tuesday night, and the news spread like wildfire whether people wanted to know about the results ahead of time or not.
Discussions popped up as to whether WWE and their official website did the right thing, but it was obvious to me from the beginning that they made the correct call.
WWE has had to deal with the side effects of producing a taped product for decades, not the least of which was the debut of WCW Monday Nitro. While Raw was typically broadcast live one week and aired on tape delay on alternate weeks, Nitro happened right in front of your eyes every Monday.
Eric Bischoff and Co. routinely took to giving away the results of Raw live on the air during the height of the Monday Night Wars, thus negating everyone's reasons for tuning in to see WWE's product. This, of course, began to backfire when Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and DX came to prominence.
The fateful night that will always be cited is Jan. 4, 1999, when Class of 2013 WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley won the WWE Championship, a result given away on the same episode of Nitro that saw the Fingerpoke of Doom occur.
Would the tide have turned so heavily in WWE's favor that night had people not heard about the upcoming title change from the enemy? We will never know, but it's hard to say it didn't give them quite a boost.
Just weeks later, Halftime Heat was presented on USA. I was reminded of this unique special thanks to the Attitude Era mode in WWE '13 where The Rock and Foley as Mankind wrestled in an empty arena.
What I also remembered is that WWE.com, still in its infancy along with a lot of companies getting their feet wet on the Internet, posted the results of the match before the special had aired. This was no doubt to draw as many people away from the Super Bowl Halftime Show as possible.
Another specific incident would be January 2006, the month Batista was forced to vacate the World Heavyweight Championship due to injury. The same night of the SmackDown taping, Kurt Angle jumped from Raw to SmackDown and won a 20-man battle royal to win the title. WWE.com gave this away as soon as possible, and I can say for sure that it assured my butt of being in a seat to watch it.
WWE.com even did this as recently as October, when Kofi Kingston defeated The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship on Main Event. It shouldn't be that big of a deal in this age of social media. Why people are still "angry" at websites for doing their jobs is beyond me.
If you don't want something spoiled, stay off wrestling websites (WWE.com included as they will want you to hear things from them first) and disconnect yourself from social media and mobile apps, B/R Team Stream included.
I found out that Alberto Del Rio was going to win the belt thanks to online coverage as well as WWE.com. Rather than whine and groan about it, I was excited to watch SmackDown not just for the prospect of seeing a major title change like this one, but another potential encounter between The Rock and CM Punk to follow up their incredible face-off on Raw.
I have no doubt that a lot of others felt the same and the ratings will spike when they become available.