So the first edition of WWE RAW in the post-CM Punk era has come and gone. Things didn’t get too out of control, however there were a number of random “CM Punk” chants throughout the entire show. I wouldn’t classify Monday’s show as another example of the fans “hijacking” an event, but it came pretty close. As far as booking is concerned, I feel WWE did a really good job of doing everything possible to avoid another hijacking situation.
The show opened with Randy Orton coming to the ring and doing another “whiney heel champion” promo. The crowd immediately started with the “CM Punk” chants, and Orton, per orders of WWE management, barreled through them by speaking faster and avoiding any breaks in his promo. This is the same style of promo that WWE informed their Superstars to utilize during the infamous “What?” chant-era. If there’s no break in your speech, the fans don’t have the opportunity to chime in with a loud “What?” when you pause.
When Batista came out for his segment, we saw another example of WWE utilizing crafty booking to avoid giving their fans an opportunity to hijack the show. They had an insane amount of pyro, something that almost guarantees a decent pop from the fans. When Batista hit the ring, before he could speak a word into the microphone, out comes Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio does his heel promo and they made sure to have Batista only talk for brief periods. The next move was to have Del Rio attack Batista with a cheap shot, and have Batista fire-up on offense. Basically put, they kept everything short and sweet, not allowing the fans to take over the segment.
Another move I was informed that WWE made throughout the show was the way they mic’d their audience. Generally, WWE will mic the arena to magnify the crowd reactions for television. Apparently when “CM Punk” chants and things of that nature would occur throughout the show, WWE would control the way the reactions would come across on television. Another smart move by WWE.
When a crowd chant breaks out, it’s usually a group of passionate fans that start it up, and it spreads throughout the arena. The same formula applies here. If millions of fans watch television and realize how cool it seems when a crowd “hijacks” a show, when they attend the show, they’re likely going to follow suit, as long as there is an issue to be passionate about. If they watch and it’s not happening, it’s less likely to continue. WWE controlling the way the audience was mic’d on television was another smart move by the company to try and battle back with this recent craze.
That’s exactly what it is, too. It’s becoming a new tradition for fans to “take over” shows. In short, it’s the fans attempting to fight back and voice their opinions about booking they vehemently disagree with. If they feel they’re favorite guys are being held down by the “dastardly politics of the wrestling business,” they’re going to rally behind their favorite guys and try and make a difference for them. It’s one of the great things about pro wrestling. The crowd plays a part. The original ECW embodied this type of spirit more so than any other promotion in history. They had passionate fans, and those fans would let it be known when they liked or disliked something. Unlike WWE, however, ECW would generally listen and adapt.
If WWE is going to continue to ignore the passionate portion of their audience, the least they can do is battle back with promotional tactics of their own. I believe that’s what we witnessed on Monday night. They have ways they can handle this. Maybe they can’t completely control it, but they can fight back. I strongly feel that’s what we’re seeing. Of course the easier solution would be to listen to what their fans want and simply give it to them, but as long as that’s not going to happen, I guess this is going to have to do for now. Of course we’re talking about Omaha, Nebraska, and a fan base that didn’t seem to be as completely out of control as much as say, a Philadelphia or New York crowd would be. That’s going to be the real test.
As I noted in my recent editorial, “Wait, What? No More CM Punk?!” (Read Here) I feel like one of the best things WWE can do to combat a potential “CM Punk craze” starting up is to give the fans the Daniel Bryan run they have been begging for. It seems like that’s exactly what WWE is going to do, or at least give the impression to their fans that that’s what they’re going to do. This was evident on Monday’s RAW, as the very first segment of the show featured Triple H leading the fans in a big “Yes!” chant, and the announcers driving home the idea throughout the entire show that Daniel Bryan could potentially become “the new face of WWE.” Basically put, if WWE finally gives the fans what they want with Bryan, maybe they’ll forgive or at least temporarily forget the situation going on with CM Punk. Once again, it may not stop the “Punk movement,” but it’s about the best thing WWE can do to fight it.
It’s a heated showdown as we travel on the road to WrestleMania, folks. It’s going to be really interesting as time goes on to see how the fans continue to react on some of the bigger shows. It will be equally interesting, if not more so, to see how WWE handles their booking and creative going forward. Will they fold under the pressure and give into it? Will they use production and other tactics to combat it like we saw on Monday? Will it be a mixture of both? Hell, I don’t have a crystal ball. I honestly couldn’t tell ya. It is interesting though that the most over character, in my opinion, right now in WWE is their fans. When I was watching the show on Monday, the one thing that had my interest above all else was focusing on how the crowd was going to react to certain situations, more so than the situations themselves. Of course, that could be because there isn’t a lot to enjoy right now.
Without a Paul Heyman promo, a CM Punk promo, or even a John Cena promo, Monday’s RAW certainly felt like it was missing something. Let’s hope they can figure out something to fill that gap. If they don’t, the “WWE Universe” may fill it for them.
You gotta love pro wrestling!
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