The Impact of Social Media on Professional Wrestling

Mike SalvatoreCorrespondent IIIMay 7, 2011

After nearly a week of controversy and debate surrounding the World Heavyweight Championship Match on Smackdown, Randy Orton officially became the new blue brand’s new champion. 

The worst-kept spoiler in recent memory finally came to fruition, and I must admit, it was difficult to watch after seeing Christian’s emotional victory this past Sunday at Extreme Rules. 

The IWC has blown up over this past week over the wrongdoings of the WWE as it pertains to our favorite son, Christian. Other than Vince McMahon himself, Orton has found himself to be the primary target of the ire of the Internet fans. 

Of course, what transpired on Tuesday and finally acknowledged on Friday was widely unpopular, it was by no means the fault of Orton. People will gripe that he has unfair pull backstage, however, the man is not making booking decisions. 

What has been interesting has been the role of social media during this whole fiasco. When news broke late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning about the title switch, all hell broke loose. 

Bloggers and analysts alike were weighing in about this spoiler and debating the merits of the title change, and whether it was right to pull the plug on Christian’s title reign after only two (WWE wants you to believe five) days. 

However, the impact goes well beyond the typical wresting websites, as Facebook, YouTube, and most notably Twitter has served as a platform for fans to voice their displeasure over the move. 

Fans have angrily been writing on the WWE’s Facebook page protesting the decision. Twitter has been another animal entirely, as fans have been tweeting their thoughts to Randy Orton directly.

It is amazing in the age we live in, fans have been able to rally behind one individual. In the past, fans could come across spoilers, but that would be the end of it. Now there are websites that allow fans to interact on a daily basis and share their thoughts within their niche. 

Orton has begun to have some fun with the fans as he been “retweeting” angry responses and posting his own comments about how he feels about the situation. Now Randy Orton is currently a face on Smackdown, but his responses have certainly had a heelish tendency.  

Can it really be possible that social media could impact a storyline? 

One writer mentioned yesterday that the Daniel Bryan controversy was met with similar vigor on the Internet. Fans were beside themselves with his sudden release from the company.

A few months went by, and before you knew it Daniel Bryan re-emerged on one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year as he participated in the main event at Summerslam. 

Vince McMahon is a very savvy businessman. He knows controversy creates cash, and this title change has certainly created quite the buzz. 

It’s no secret that McMahon is not a huge Christian fan, as nearly any wrestling site will tell you. 

Did he know that taking the title off of Christian would blow up as it has? 

Based on Christian’s reaction to his loss, it seems that a heel turn would be the next logical progression, as he seemed destined to become the title-obsessed heel. 

However, it may become a much tougher sell due to the impact of social media. Christian has become such a sympathetic figure over the course of the last week that it makes little if any sense to turn him heel.  

Also, if you combine that with Orton’s mannerisms as Smackdown went off the air in addition to his recent Twitter activity, it may make more sense to turn Orton heel. 

Whatever the case may be, Smackdown sure got a whole lot more interesting. 

All I know is that I am going to be paying much more attention to Twitter over the course of the next few weeks.

Follow me on Twitter @MikeSalvatore10 so we can watch the fireworks together!