TCWNN #29: Expectations

Well I wasn’t expecting that.

None of us were.

A horrible, awful nonsensical 3 hour “comedic” Monday Night Raw salvaged in the last 10 minutes by a dead serious all out assault on the WWE by the season one NXT rookies. Anyone who says they predicted it would have to be a liar, because it was completely from left field. And it worked GREAT.

The end of Monday’s Raw had that feeling of anarchy, that feeling of “anything can happen in the WWE” that has been missing for years. Everyone from John Cena down to the time keeper getting pummeled into oblivion, the actual ring being torn down onscreen, no announcers (they were pummeled)… it really made for an intense show ending experience, even the next day watching it again via youtube, and it’s created a hubbub among wrestling fans. It’s a genuinely exciting moment for the first time in what feels like ages.

Which leaves me with one question.

Why are our expectations set so high for this?

Don’t get me wrong, all the positive things everyone has been saying are 100% true. There’s all sorts of potential here, and it’s WAY too soon to tell if that potential is going to be wasted. But the thing is… we’ve been here before.

I don’t mean we’ve had this exact moment before; similarities to the NWO and the Invasion angle aside, the NXT attack on Monday went so far and was handled so well that it stands far above the latter and depending on how things go, possibly at the same level as the former. But given how many times the WWE has gotten our hopes up and dashed them to the ground, I find it hard to hold out hope that it actually goes in that direction. The Invasion angle, for example, should have been a license to print money. Instead, it fizzled out, as no one was allowed to look good except for the established WWE talent. By sending John Cena out on a stretcher, the NXT rookies are at least one step ahead of the WCW wrestlers who debuted as part of the Invasion, but still, the fact remains that type of fizzling is something that has happened many, many times in recent years with the WWE.

There are a few examples that spring to mind immediately from the last few years. For example, look at Randy Orton’s war with HHH and the McMahons, which had our excitement growing and waning like a yoyo every week, eventually peaking with his attack on (and creepy kiss of) Stephanie. An angle that had all the potential in the world, that got derailed by lame home invasions and a too soon return of previous victims Vince and Shane, and ended in a Wrestlemania match that put the world to sleep. The recent return of WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart took a similar path; starting strong and then week by week losing ground under the weight of convoluted sports entertainment plot twists that diluted what should have been easy heat.

Or look at the last world title reign of CM Punk. It seemed like we had a new top of the card heel act to root against, as Punk cut some of the best promos and got some the most vitriolic crowd heat the company had seen in years. We were all atwitter with the potential in a heel Punk carrying the World title. Yet as soon as Jeff Hardy was gone, Punk was tapping out to the Undertaker in minutes and mired in the mid-card. Even his recent feud with Rey Mysterio, cited week in and week out as a highlight by wrestling fans, never truly reached the heights of excitement it could have, largely due to unfocused and indecisive booking.

I could probably go on, but you get my point. Time and again, we get excited for what appear to be changes in the status quo, or exciting new angles, or pushes of newer guys, and then we end up right back where we started. Sometimes these things just can’t be helped, but other times it just seems like the WWE writers don’t know how to capitalize on the strength of what they’ve started. Plot directions seem to change weekly in the WWE, and that makes me worry that this NXT invasion is just another last minute change to the NXT product, with no actual long term planning involved.

I don’t want to be a naysayer, let alone a doomsayer. I loved the NXT angle that concluded Raw, and I loved how what minimal progression there has been so far, with the new season of pros beating down the new batch of rookies as a “don’t even think about it” message (that hopefully will have the opposite effect and lead to further mutiny), and the season one NXTers giving the Miz and Christian a post tag-match beat down at a recent FCW house show. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say. And I’d love to be proven wrong about this being a last minute decision, and have the lame names, goofy challenges, and lack of any actual training by the pros throughout the first season of NXT all end up cited as reasons for the attack (as I pointed out 2 weeks ago, a good heel believes he’s in the right, and if the NXT guys came out and said they were never given a chance and made to look like goofs… well, they’d be right). But there’s this tiny little voice in the back of my head, and it keeps telling me:

“Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t get your hopes up.”

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