The wild, wild west that is social media is becoming more prevalent than ever in the WWE landscape, which leaves fans fending for themselves.
For fans, the continued evolution of social media like Twitter and Instagram has to function akin to a double-edged sword. Seeing more of their favorite Superstars and knowing them better than fans of the past ever had a chance to do is, for the most part, a good thing.
But the other side is sheer confusion. There isn't a clear-cut decree from WWE as to whether Superstars should work their social accounts in character and storylines or not, which leads to extra legwork on the part of fans.
Take Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch as the best examples. WWE's newest power couple couldn't be more different in the social media space.
Rollins, as many fans probably know, has been involved in a bitter war of words with New Japan Pro-Wrestling IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion Will Ospreay and others while also publicly responding to comments made by Jon-Moxley of All Elite Wrestling.
The universal champ went all-in on Twitter:
Seth Rollins @WWERollins
Doubling down. Best pro wrestling on the planet. See that Cruiserweight Triple Threat? And that’s just one night, one match amongst the many. Find anyone else alive who does what I do as well as I do it as often as I do it. Ya can’t. #WWEStompingGrounds #UniversalChampion @WWE
It got stranger, as Rollins then looped in Ricochet for some reason and brought up the matter of money:
He then turned around and offered up some more:
And look—this would be excellent heel work from Rollins. Remember his heel days with The Authority while champ? This reads like that. Not the babyface champion who is having his real-life relationship with Lynch looped into the company's most prominent storyline.
Fans are left to wonder, right? Is this part of a storyline? Is it Rollins in character or out of charter? Is there some sort of upcoming crossover with Ospreay and other promotions? Does WWE feel the AEW pressure?
It all leaves fans to their own devices on this front. Undoubtedly, Rollins has every right to defend his employer and, assuredly, WWE has taken heat endlessly. The ratings don't seem great. Neither do ticket sales. And some of the biggest storylines—like The Undertaker's random return for a feud with Shane McMahon, who has dominated the nonsensical wild-card rule—have plummeted fan interest during a usual down time of year.
It isn't easy for fans to get a read on pretty much any of this because every Superstar treats social media differently, blurring the lines.
Don't forget Lynch in this, as she represents the other end of the spectrum. One could make the argument Lynch would have never made her meteoric rise to the WrestleMania main event without her wicked-good beef game on Twitter.
While she was out hurt and well after she returned, Lynch didn't just use Twitter as a way to keep her name in front of fans. She pragmatically used it as a way to add layers of depth to feuds with opponents and her character.
A recent example:
Had Lynch not endeared herself to fans outside of the ring (she has 1.7 million followers on Twitter alone), the WWE writing on its lonesome and iffy booking would have arguably held her back.
And before anyone gets the idea, Lynch has already shot down the idea she's helping Rollins with his social media game and that's where all of this is coming from.
Joey Hayden of Guide Live asked Lynch about this exact point:
"No, to be honest with you, neither. None in either way. I've seen what he's been doing. That's completely him. He rightfully exposes the fact that we are the premier wrestling show. We're constantly putting on matches, five-star matches time after time. I think that he just wants that to be noticed and appreciated. But that's got absolutely nothing to do with me, I don't know that I've rubbed off on him in that way."
Again—every star treats social media differently, and the impact on the era is all over the place. Bray Wyatt, for example, is all in-character and even had fans desperately searching through weeks and weeks of old promos for a hidden message. Roman Reigns and plenty of other stars go in the other direction.
In an overarching sense, the social media era has probably caused some problems for WWE too. Oversaturation of the product is already an issue, with five hours of weekly programs plus 205 Live, WWE Network programs and everything else. Exposure to stars—doing character work or not—on social media hasn't helped.
One could argue this also makes it tough for WWE to throw out classic-style heels anymore. Good luck convincing fans to boo a guy in the middle of the ring when the fans in the crowd can pop open Twitter and see him snuggling with his cat.
This isn't saying WWE should introduce a social media rule in one direction or the other. But WWE itself has also taken some hits because of this. Both fans and the company have to find a better way to adapt because, at some point, at least one company will classify as an innovator and set the industry standard when it does.
Who, how and why remain up in the air on that front. Until then, the wrestling away from wrestling on social media continues to entertain at the same time it befuddles onlookers.