Lately, before every WWE pay-per-view, the creative team must contemplate the age old question: To swerve, or not to swerve?
Earlier in the year, I wrote an article asking where the element of surprise in pro wrestling had gone. Since then, the WWE has given the fans a variety of "surprises." What the WWE needs to learn, though, is that there are two kinds of surprises: Good surprises and bad ones.
The purpose of the swerve is to shock the audience, but lately this technique has been overused and misused. Champions have been made to look weak, no one is able to hold a championship for more than a month or two, wrestlers have been pushed to the side, and the storylines have been all over the place.
It has gotten to the point where I think the creative team does this not because they want the fans to be genuinely shocked, but because they want to feel as if they are one step ahead of Internet wrestling fans. If this is the case, then it will be a long time before quality programming returns to the WWE.
One thing the writers need to realize is that the members of the Internet wrestling community don't fit into their target demographic.
Up until now, the WWE has focused their programming around younger kids, although that looks like that may be changing soon enough. I'm sure many of the little kids in the audience are not on the Internet looking for wrestling spoilers, which is why I feel that the constant swerving is unnecessary.
I believe that two superstars in particular have been the biggest victims of the WWE's desire to one-up the older, more informed wrestling fans. To me, Randy Orton and C.M. Punk have been made to look like mediocre champions.
Orton had so much momentum going into Wrestlemania, only to lose to Triple H, and then win the belt from him in a six man tag-team match at Backlash. He then lost the belt to Batista, who had to vacate the belt after suffering an injury. Orton would then win the belt back a week later.
On top of all this, it seems as if "The Viper" can't win a match without the interference of his minions, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase.
For lack of a better word, the WWE's handling of C.M. Punk's two World Heavyweight Championship reigns has been retarded.
He won the Money in the Bank for the second year straight at Wrestlemania 25. Instead of cashing it in for a sanctioned match against Edge or Jeff Hardy, Punk cashed in seconds after Hardy won his second championship in a ladder match against Edge.
This looked like a good way to build C.M. Punk up as probably the top heel in the company next to Orton. The only problem is that he lost the belt a month and a half later to Hardy.
I'm not the biggest Christian fan, but I also feel he may have been a victim of the WWE's obsession with being unpredictable.
A storyline involving him and Edge—and maybe the Hardys—looked imminent, but because of the constant rumors circling the Internet at the time nearing Christian's arrival, Christian was relegated to ECW...the "C" show. I'm not sure if Christian is a future WWE Champion, but he is definitely above the likes of ECW.
The swerve is good for wrestling when used properly and sparingly, but it shouldn't be used to insult the intelligence of your loyal fans. All the WWE has done this year is made their championship belts almost worthless, and stalled the progress of a few promising superstars.
If the WWE continues to alter their plans at the last minute in order to stay one step ahead of their more informed fans, then I fear that the days of meaningful championship reigns and quality programming will disappear from wrestling forever.