Let's say you're running the biggest pro wrestling promotion in the world. One of your two biggest stars of the last decade has found huge success as a mainstream actor and is largely retired.
After several years of occasional taped and (more occasional) live appearances, he returns to announce he's hosting your biggest show of the year. The night after said big show, you announce he will wrestle your top star a year later in the big show's main event. Soon, you learn that his return boosted business in a big way.
The movie star wrestler then goes off TV for months but eventually makes it clear that he will make an appearance at your November pay-per-view event. It had traditionally been the fourth biggest show of the year before a downturn. He debuted at the same event 15 years earlier, and it will be in the same building as that show.
The show is in New York City at the Madison Square Garden, the most famous arena in the world, soon after a major renovation. It's well known that the movie star will be appearing, perhaps to commemorate his debut. Without him the show would likely do well, and with him making an appearance, it's a guaranteed sellout.
So, when it's time to produce the local advertisements for the ticket on-sale date, what do you do?
If the answer is "give away your upcoming big surprise that by revealing that the movie star is actually wrestling his first match in almost eight years on the show," then you're Vince McMahon.
I'm not the only one who thinks that the way that this whole scenario has played out is really strange, right? It was well known that The Rock was returning at Survivor Series, and WWE could have easily run ads touting his appearance.
The Rock being there by itself would have led to sellout business, especially with ads promoting that they will celebrate the 15th anniversary of his debut and that it has been almost eight years since he made any appearance in the building (which happened to be his last match). Instead, they cut to the chase in local ads: He's returning to action on the show.
For a week and a half, most wrestling reporters insisted that this was just deceptive advertising, ignoring that there was no plausible deniability in how the ads were worded if The Rock didn't wrestle at Survivor Series. Yesterday, The Rock confirmed that his return to the ring will be on the show by posting an ad that revealed that he will be teaming with John Cena for the first and last time.
Yet, on the regular, nationally broadcast WWE TV shows, not a word has been said about this yet. Sure, WWE has three pay-per-views to promote before Survivor Series, one of which is tomorrow night, but this whole situation is just plain weird to me.
I don't think this has necessarily been a bad idea, but when you look at what has happened, does it really seem normal, both by real world and WWE standards?
Why did WWE announce The Rock's in-ring return out of the blue in low-key local advertisements instead of just saying in them he was appearing to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his debut? To guarantee that the sellout would be a fast one that they could brag about? How important is that, really?
Why did The Rock confirm it by posting an ad that spoils an important development in him teaming with Cena, for whatever reason? He could've just said that the ads are right and he will be wrestling.
Someone had to make a move soon to make it clear there's no deceptive advertising being used, and thus it was a good idea for The Rock to confirm that he's wrestling at Survivor Series. Still, why did he do it in a way that so specific and spoilery?
Again, WWE and The Rock haven't done anything bad here, but it's so unlike WWE that it's completely puzzled me. Was this all over WWE having fodder for a new "Did you know...?" bumper and then confirming that it wasn't earned on false pretenses?
If not, then why? Why didn't they let this play out organically? The only other explanation I can think of is that WWE wanted to make it clear to local fans what was happening so those who want to go could get tickets. That's unusually charitable of them, and if it's the case, then kudos, as it would be a nice gesture.