Monday, February 24, 2014

Eliminating Audience Interest

By Chad Smart@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter
WWE’s Elimination Chamber 2014 is in the books. The show itself was a very entertaining show with a Match of the Year candidate in The Shield vs. Wyatt Family and a competitive Elimination Chamber match. In my opinion there was no “bad” match on the show. If you didn’t see the pay per view, I would recommend checking it out if you get a chance.
That said, we are six weeks from Wrestlemania and based on results from the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber and fan reaction to certain Superstars, WWE either needs to change creative direction or risk the main event at Wrestlemania to be met with enough fan apathy to make it seem like a dark match between two unknown talents.  
By virtue of winning the Royal Rumble match, Batista will challenge Randy Orton for the WWE Title. During Elimination Chamber, the WWE Universe made it pretty obvious this is not a match they care to see. During his match against Alberto Del Rio, Batista was met with chants of BOOTISTA. The crowd also gave Del Rio probably a bigger face reaction during the match then he ever got during his short-term face run a couple years ago. At various points during the Elimination Chamber match, champion Randy Orton was also met with boos and non-favorable cheers.
Ever since winning, and then losing, the WWE title at SummerSlam 2013, the logical closing moment of Wrestlemania has been Daniel Bryan overcoming the odds and winning the WWE title to cement his place in WWE history.  However, after three straight pay per views where he was cheated out of the title by The Authority followed by being left out of the Royal Rumble match and losing the Elimination Chamber due to interference by Kane, WWE is risking fans accepting the guy they want to see as champion will never get the belt and tuning out due to not being satisfied.  
Last year, fans were excited for Dolph Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and become champion. One title defense later where Ziggler lost the title, he has fallen back to mid-card purgatory and fan reaction has cooled off. In 2012, Zack Ryder got himself over with the fans with a YouTube show. A short run as US Champion and getting treated like a lovelorn sap crushing on Eve was all Ryder got out of his popularity. These days you’re more likely to see a guest appearance from an Attitude Era star than you do of seeing Zack Ryder on Raw.
Because of the track record with wrestlers the fans have chosen to organically support and then watch as WWE fails to capitalize on that support, I wonder if WWE fans will start to look for other forms of entertainment that don’t leave them frustrated and upset.  I know I am in the section of the fan base which will watch no matter what because I have the “sickness” but what about casual fans who have other interests? Will they reach a point where enough is enough and they turn to other forms of entertainment for satisfaction?  
Kevin and I will be at Wrestlemania, and to be honest, I’m hoping WWE sticks with the Orton/Batista match. Not because I want to see the match, but because I want to say I was there when 80,000 people hijacked a show and gave the best worst Wrestlemania moment.

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