Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crying Wolf: The WWE and Cynicism Among Fans

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I will reiterate that I thought that it wasn't a bad call to have CM Punk come back a week after he left. Pending the storyline reason he came back, it could be really good storytelling, especially looking at this in the lens of it being an extended story that began June 27th, not as a story that just ended with the end of Money in the Bank. I honestly don't see how having Punk back could be a bad thing.

There are those who'd argue tooth and nail with that, saying that regardless of execution, Punk's return should have been delayed. I disagree with that, but I see where they come from. I actually see exactly where they come from. It's been a similar story with Christian losing the World Heavyweight Championship, with John Cena being fired and not missing any time at work and with several other plot points that have been wrapped up too neatly or not given any time to marinate. Even though I couldn't disagree with the other side of this issue any more than I do now, I still can see where they come from because WWE hasn't given them a track record of being able to let things develop naturally. So in the one time when having a payoff happen shortly after the cliffhanger makes sense, they feel jilted.

I don't blame them, actually.

Storytelling is storytelling, and if it's good, it's good. I myself was proven wrong in the aftermath to Christian's title win in how much I enjoyed his feud with Randy Orton (cue the commenters chirping about how insane I am for liking the feud and what not). However, there's something to be said for letting a plot point marinate for a little bit and letting them sink in without another shock. It's a reason why the Vince Russo style of booking has grown so damn ineffective. Plot point after plot point after plot point burns an audience out. Christian as a conquering hero would have been a nice thing to let sit for a week. John Cena being off TV, or being on TV as Juan Cena (the biggest missed opportunity ever as it could have gotten a month or so out of Darren Young before they tossed him back into the NXT: Redemption pile), might have freshened him up a little bit before he got his revenge on Wade Barrett.

So now, there's a situation where Punk coming back was a valid decision. Because fans have been conditioned to think that everything the WWE does is always rushed, there's a rush to cynicism on this point. The WWE cried wolf on those other stories, letting the fans know that something was really important when it happened layered so quickly on top of the last thing that was important. Rather than having this quick return acting as a contrast to their MO, it's just another strike against them in their MO, even though, to keep with baseball terms, it's a strike that's being called on the outside corner off the strike zone.

The context surrounding the prior two situations noted here called for time to marinate. Christian's situation was addressed. With Cena being fired, his act was growing a bit tired with some fans, and time off might have refreshed him with those fans and even made him more palatable to the people who already liked him. With Punk? He'd just uncorked his batshit-awesome potential. He just got hot. You don't shelve someone who is hot, you feature them. You cultivate the fan reactions and you keep producing their merchandise and have them wear said merchandise so it continues to sell. It's simple.

But again, this is WWE. They don't let anything marinate, and thus they've conditioned their fanbase to cynicism. While I think those fans are wrong in this case, I can only blame WWE for their reactions. You breed a reaction, then you don't act surprised when people reject it based off a potential future action.

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