AS I SEE IT: Chicago raised hell last week on RAW Bob Magee Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets http://pwbts.com
Well, RAW was not Punk. As predicted, the fans of Chicago raised holy hell. All night long.
The week before, fans had set up #hijackRaw on Twitter, designed to encourage fans to raise hell at RAWs. This was set up especially at Chicago last week to tell WWE they want to see CM Punk back, and that they want an end to the Daniel Bryan being the WWE version of South Park’s Kenny, with “The Authority” doing something to “kill” Daniel Bryan each and every week.
Since WWE knew Punk wasn’t going to be there, they did themselves no favors last night by not squashing the rumor. No matter what they tell you, they knew the Punk story was put out there by Meltzer. They ignored it, they fed into it by not debunking it, and had three hours of people chanting for someone who wasn’t there.
Dozens of signs were clearly visible, and the chants started from the moment the 8:45 insert promo for RAW was aired.
Paul Heyman’s killer promo at the beginning of RAW may have helped for a little while, but also came off a bit like mocking Punk and the fans at the same time.
For a lot of the show, fans were either chanting for Punk, or sitting on their hands. Some matches has so little crowd response, you could heard a cricket fart. As one example, I felt bad for Christian and Sheamus. Their match was right match, wrong place, wrong time. The Wyatt-Shield match and the Usos-New Age Outlaws matches were about the only thing that got the crowd into any part of the show not involving Danielson or (potentially) Punk.
The crowd response might well have even been worse. WWE has been said to have originally planned several segments burying CM Punk, including one with Bad News Barrett. Vince McMahon is apparently still hopeful Punk will return, so scrapped the segments. THAT would have been horrible judgment on WWE’s part, and would have resulted in a lot more disruptive behavior by the crowd.
Some have questioned if WWE used #HijackRAW to have fans pay their money to hijack the show and “failing”, or whether fans won because WWE MAY (emphasis: MAY) finally be convinced to give fans a better quality RAW, and perhaps see Bryan finally get a resolution to the never-ending story. Read an article at <A HREF=”http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2014/03/04/wwe-fans-hijackraw-movement-gains-vince-mcmahons-attention”>Washington Post</a> for a writer offering her opinions.
When HHH and Stephanie McMahon did their promo, fans there live said they couldn’t hear the promo over the fans booing. Had the aforementioned segments taken place, I’d rather not think what would have gone on.
In my opinion, there’s a difference between working the crowd to get a reaction to an eventual payoff. Last Monday night seemed like there was a healthy amount of FU to fans to it. That kind of carny contempt is why far too many people outside the business don’t take wrestling seriously as a business.
There are those who justify the chaos at RAW by saying emotion sells. Yes, emotion does…if someone’s buying. Emotion works if it’s channeled properly, and if fans buy that the story will progress to a payoff. But the storyline with Daniel Bryan has been dragging and dragging on for almost 10 months.
Either WWE needs to pull the trigger on Bryan tonight; or people may well stop believing there’s going to be a payoff at all. In this era of instant gratification, 9-10 months is too long in this era to ask fans to wait for a storyline payoff. Then, if they pull the trigger on HHH-Bryan, how does WWE get Bryan into a title match at the end of Wrestlemania 30 that he wins decisively…gives fans the happy ending they want, and let Bryan keep the belt for a while?
Unless tonight brings Hulk Hogan‘s announcement (using the rationale that the host of Wrestlemania XX give him the right) that he’s making a match for Mania with HHH vs. Bryan, I don’t know how they avoid turning fans off once and for all.
To me, the only thing that works is Hogan making the HHH vs. Bryan match for Wrestlemania 30; and making it the opening match as a qualifier for Bryan to join Batista vs. Orton in the main event if he wins. But even if we do get HHH vs. Bryan, how do you make fans believe there’s not going to be one more screwjob finish, with The Shield, Kane, Stephanie McMahon and the 101st Airborne rushing in to interfere?