On the April 11th edition of SmackDown Live, Sami Zayn lost a #1 contender’s match for the United States Championship. Despite being pinned in that match, just seven days later he was elevated to contention for the WWE title. In addition, a similar situation exists for Finn Bálor and Seth Rollins on RAW; both men failed to earn a shot at the IC title, but were then announced for a match to determine Brock Lesnar’s next challenger for the Universal Championship.
Three people fall short at the midcard title level, only to be given opportunities to fight for main event titles. Seeing as I’m the type of wrestling fan that places value on continuity, storytelling, and structure within WWE’s fictional universe, this presents an issue for me. As it has happened many times before, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was met with a response telling me that I’m “thinking too much.” For whatever reason, this is only a problem when it comes to WWE.
Take a look at entertainment properties like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and (my favorite TV show of all-time) The Wire. As their respective writers construct their universes, they take us on a journey from one episode to the next; they weave threads along the way that reward viewers for being attentive. And then there’s WWE.
If you attempt to connect the dots from one week to the next, you’ll more than likely be punished for it. That’s because WWE’s booking structure leans heavily towards making a spectacle of whatever show is on that given day, even if the long-term storytelling and overall entertainment value is sacrificed in the process. No matter how much Vince McMahon may want to polish and corporatize the
pro wrestling sports entertainment giant that is WWE, those carny roots are always at risk of being revealed — and they very frequently are.
When did we as fans concede to the belief that we have to turn our brains off to enjoy professional wrestling?
I don’t remember signing a contract agreeing to those terms — and if I did, it was under duress. As far as I’m concerned, it’s about-damn-time that we renegotiate.
Check out the clip from the latest episode of the PWF Empire podcast where Stephen and I establish our terms: