Today’s Episode: The Best Laid Plans
I’ve said before, either in this column or elsewhere, that the life of the Internet wrestling fan is one of constant disappointment; rarely is the televised product what we wish it to be, and when someone DOES do well (CM Punk’s recent rise, Daniel Bryan winning Money in the Bank), we find ourselves terrified of getting excited for fear that we’ll just have our hopes smashed back down to Earth beneath the boot heel of ineffectual bookers and/or the vile Vince McMahon himself. We balance our potential elation with what we expect or know from the past, but we sometimes can’t help but get enthralled by a good storyline or, even worse, the possibilities where a wrestling tale might take us.
Still, we bemoan the lack of long-term planning in WWE (alas, I’m woefully underprepared when it comes to talking about TNA, as I rarely find time to watch their one and only show), likely made even more difficult through abundance of pay-per-views, something discussed wonderfully by Mike Gojira in his recent article. We wonder how they can possibly deliver such a stale, boring show to us when we all know that we could do so very much better.
Okay, there was a little snarkiness in that last comment, but we should admit that we are pretty unfair to wrestling companies who we expect to produce strong television every single week. Every week, without the benefit of repeats or writers retreats, the producers of content are given demands of our time and money. It’s a rough job and, if you listen to Dave Lagana’s podcast (which you all should), the actual writers are just along for the ride with little actual input as to how things go.
But where’s all of the great stuff that we thought was going to happen?! Remember when CM Punk mentioned Ring of Honor and Colt Cabana on LIVE WWE television?! Remember that?! Oh man, that was going to be the start of something huge, right? Colt was going to show up on television, and the Kings of Wrestling were going to help Punk keep the title at Summerslam! That was absolutely going to happen, right? Sure, Colt is touring all over the place, and Chris Hero hasn’t signed with WWE along with his tag partner, the newly minted Antonio Cesaro, but they were just trying to keep it a secret.
Just like how Triple H was going to bring in scab workers for the last episode of Raw, maybe even a bunch of Ring of Honor guys because, of course, WWE has a working relationship with Ring of Honor because Jamie Noble went to work for them awhile back. Admittedly, this was a little bit of fantasy booking that a writer or two thought plausible, if not likely, but we just expected so much more from all of this.
Ultimately, that’s thing that keeps hammering us: our expectations for what WWE and wrestling can be are sometimes so lofty that we can’t help but be let down by what we actually get.
It doesn’t help that most of the storylines that intrigue us ultimately fizzle; nothing really ends, it just sort of dies or goes away. Villains can’t be killed off, because they’re real people that might need someone to feud with next week, unless they’re taking some time off, in which case they run the risk of losing their spot.
The Nexus, instead of having some grand master plan that we couldn’t wait to discover, just kind of stopped existing as members were dropped, fired, injured, or split off, even though we were enthralled with the initial events that got us there. John Cena, instead of taking various opportunities to turn heel and revitalize his character, was just the same guy that he always was. I understand this, beyond the typical merchandising reasons, but we still had our expectations and half-wishes. The Anonymous Raw GM, instead of being the already despised Michael Cole or a returning star like Mick Foley or Diesel, or even a current star like, as a friend once suggested, the goofy Zack Ryder, was…no one. Nothing. He just ceased to exist, and any curiosity we have is, the writers can only hope, forgotten.
There’s less wrestling on our wrestling show so that we can have an action drama, but dramas have the common courtesy of revealing the answers to long-asked questions, something WWE has never been essentially great at.
But, again, maybe its us. Maybe we’re expecting too much from something that should be ultimately disposable and unimportant. Why do we build ourselves up when we know that we’re likely going to get shut down again and upset when we see our favorite wrestler buried or when the storyline that we invested all of our hours in take a dull turn or drop completely? The investment can be so powerful, but I’m not sure we should be connecting to this stuff so hard, especially when we expect so much more than any company is really capable of delivering.
Now, what in the wide world of sports are they going to do with Daniel Bryan and his Money in the Bank briefcase, as well as his title shot at Wrestlemania? I’m sure this is all part of the plan.
Tags: Antonio Cesaro, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, cm punk, Daniel Bryan, john cena, nexus, Ring of Honor, WWE