WARNING: May include spoilers. Though if you’ve managed to not have the IWC’s no. 1 suspect revealed to you so far, I congratulate you and encourage you to not read on further and stay away from your computer until the personality represented in the videos is revealed.
WARNING 2: This news piece will evolve / lower itself into personal opinions.
If you’ve read a wrestling website in the past week, or watched WWE, then you’ll have no doubt seen the new SAVE_US.222 videos. And if you’ve been reading any website or forum then you’ll have probably read all these people who think that they’ve figured out the person who the video happens to be about is none other than, drum roll please, Chris Jericho. It’s been just over two long years since we’ve seen Chris Jericho performing on WWE programming and he has been expected to return for the past few months. Several clues in the SAVE_US.222 videos have suggested that it may represent Chris Jericho.
The concept for the SAVE_US.222 promos begun with former creative team member Court Bauer, who, according to Figure 4 Weekly, was inspired by viral marketing. Nine Inch Nails, Dark Knight (Batman sequel), or Ring of Honor’s “Age of the Fall” are all recent examples of viral marketing.
An example of how viral marketing worked and what inspired Court Bauer: for NiN’s’ project Year Zero, there were USB sticks with music from their upcoming CD left in toilets (some of you might think that’s fitting for NiN music). On the back of a NiN tour shirt, several letters were highlighted. Some chap had the idea of rearranging the letters and found out that the letters together spelt “I am trying to believe”. Next thing you know, the quote was put into google and what was discovered was a group of creepy / interesting / amazing websites, all telling a story. Word spread about the websites. Nifty, don’t you think? Some of the websites really are several types of awesome, and worth checking out. Here’s two websites, but the rest of what I’ve seen are all interesting as well;
I Am Trying To Believe
Another Version of the Truth
WWE have got links on their website which direct to SAVE_US.222; at the moment, one is at the very bottom of the front page. The original plan was to insert out of place vignettes onto WWE programming, as if they were there by accident, in the hopes that people who were taping it would watch it again. There would be messages as well as hints (and even false hints) on the videos. So far that’s exactly what we’ve seen; from the copy of the clip that I’ve seen, the vignette seemed to end suddenly as if it were an accident and I can’t remember it being referenced by any of the commentators. I can’t help but wonder if they considered youtube as a major factor in this as well, though. The concept would then go further, to include t-shirts and such. So, without a wrestler even attached to the product, WWE could make a good amount of money once the concept gained some momentum.
Back to the original point: Court Bauer thought of using viral marketing as a way of leading to the return of Chris Jericho or to introduce the New Hart Foundation. The angle would then finish at a pay per view, at which the entity behind the videos would reveal themselves. And looking at the way that everyone seems to be going crazy over this and over analyzing every single clue possible from a 20 second video, it looks as if the idea is being used for Chris Jericho’s return and it seems that it’s possibly scheduled for No Mercy. I’d prefer for Jericho (or, for the sake of speculation, whoever it turns out to be) to return at a later pay per view. However No Mercy makes sense; it’s the place at which he won his first major world championship.
The fact that they were planning to use this project for the New Hart Foundation sends a pretty strong message about just how far it looks like they’ll be pushed. A concept this good (even if poor in execution) wouldn’t be reserved for just anyone. Before this I was under the belief that they’d be pushed until a Shawn Michaels related feud and then go on to just sort of float around in the midcard, but this news implies otherwise. An introduction like this would have been great for the New Hart Foundation, as it would have helped them seperate themselves from the previous version and would probably have made them big news right away before they even revealed their family backgrounds.
Personally, I love the idea of WWE adopting viral marketing. It’s also good to see WWE keeping good with their idea of holding returns off until pay per views. But I think it should have gone into play a long time ago, before they even knew who it was for, maybe even so far back as May. I also think that it would’ve been better to not have the clues be so specific until days before the big reveal. And I’d love for the idea to have been much closer to what Nine Inch Nails did; instead of subtle links on the WWE website, I’d much rather see the entire website simply given a hacker treatment in storyline terms – every now and then the entire site changes to one single page which shows the videos on a loop. And the smart idea would be for the roster to start getting annoyed by the videos – Vince McMahon / whichever General Manager gets sick of the videos interrupting their show so they begin firing their production crew; whichever wrestler goes to reveal their own personal surprise only to be interrupted by the videos. You get the drift.
Pulse Wrestling will have more on this story as it unfolds.