How to Regain a Loyal Fan
by, 04-25-2012 at 03:45 PM (2640 Views)
3) Give me something worth coming back to see next week
In the late 1990s, I saw a wrestling event that will forever be burned in my brain. On a typical episode of Nitro, the usual bland BS was happening during the overrun. The nWo Army was in the ring, squashing everything (including the company) in their path, when the camera cut quickly. It did not cut to the entrance ramp, nor did it cut to the crowd. It cut to a place seldom seen in the wrestling world at the time. A cut to the twisted cords, beams of metal, the flash of bright lights. Yet those rare sights were drowned out; a subtle white noise or background scenery to what my eyes could not register, nor would my mind accept what the retina was transferring through my optic nerve.
For a few brief seconds, I gazed, star stuck at what I understood; the depiction of the abused gearing up for rebellion. The lightning and thunder that alerted the tornado would soon touchdown, sparing no one in the path. I saw the face, most importantly the cold black eyes of the Great White shark, stalking the seals at a distance. I witnessed of all my childhood wrestling dreams, previously shattered, having been reconstructed by the hands of Jack the Ripper. The one to liberate me from the nightmare in HIS ring… For those 3 seconds, I saw the face of Sting.
Why does this memory evoke such vivid word play? This detailed memory had me fantasizing about the next week. What was he going to do? Was he going to address the crowd? Is he going to pick them off one by one until only Hogan was left, or is he going to eradicate them all in one ballistic eruption? The night before, I was just excited knowing that I will soon see wrestling… but tonight, the thought of waiting was torture. They had just created a full out DESIRE for me to tune in next week, if just for a glimpse of what I thought (at the time) to be the answer to every question I had about when the bleeding would stop. You know the best part? They did it with no more than 5 seconds of footage.
I commonly hear “there is no competition so fans will have to tune in next week.” I hate to break this to the fans of the ‘E Universe’ but Raw has competition that airs on Monday nights. I will touch on this in sections 4 & 10 of this series, but the jest of what fans must understand is that Raw is no longer a wrestling show. It qualifies for Reality TV more than it does a wrestling program. I feel the question we must ask ourselves is when was the last time the Raw ended in which I felt like I just witnessed a piece of wrestling history? Better yet, when was the last time I felt as if I’d miss a piece of wrestling history by failing to tune in next week?
I remember a time when they made me feel as though anything could happen, not just on the show, but in the matches themselves. I was given angles that made me want to see where they would go next. I found myself debating with friends as to where they would end up, who would say what, how they are going to be able to accomplish the climax of what was set in motion this night. My belief was suspended at what I just witnessed and the feeling had me thirsting… No, CRAVING for just 5 more minutes.
What was the last thing I saw on Raw that made me want to watch the next week? For me it was the Zack Ryder table bump. Not for the angle building moment it was intended to be, but rather for the fact that I have seen wicked bumps before and I wanted to see if he was okay. To see if it was a concussion or fractures as well as to see how the ‘E Universe’ would use it. Before that was Punks working shoot interview because I had followed him for so long that I was happy to see him being used right. Some will argue for Lesners return. I won’t lie and say I didn’t watch the next week, but my interest plummeted the moment he was associated with Jonny Ace. I felt it deflate the momentum created for what the original attack should have been used for; a way to end the current ERA (what perfect timing it would have been with Cena having just lost to the Rock), bringing in a new label for the stale product. By placing Brock with Jonny as they did, they once again negated a chance to redeem themselves. The F-5 could/should have been the “E”s way to apologize to the fans lost and bring them back home. Placing these two together only validates Cena as being that guy who will be remembered in such a negative light, regardless of how many positives he does for Public Relations. Instead of capitalizing on a way to bring that beloved feeling back to their top face and leader of their company, they cemented him as the new Hulk Hogan; a guy who means everything to this business, but is hated by those most loyal to the industry.
The idea of giving me something worth seeing next week is easy to say. Executing it is the most difficult of tasks. I do believe that the E has something in the Cena/Lesner feud (as well as the Punk/Jericho feud in which the credit goes solely to these performers for making it what it is, and the Ambrose/Foley angle that has my interest sparked) due to one critical choice they made. If it was botched or worked, when Brock bloodied John Cena’s mouth, they did not shy away from showing the blood of their hero, making him human again. Maybe (Most likely) it is just to build up to Extreme Rules, but the gesture could have been taken much deeper. The idea that came across to me was that this show might be for my age bracket again… or at least taking steps forward to get back to it. Either way, a simple act such as this was so small, but ignited an interest in me and made me feel the need to tune in this week.
I watched, only to be let down once again as they were using Brock to hold Raw hostage. An angle that could have worked, if Brock had not been the one to make the demands, but by making Brock speak (or better yet, fumble and repeat his own words) in this way, it did nothing to help the build of him being the dominant monster returning (he legitimizes that angle simply by just being there) that the show “should” be featured around. If anything it made him look comical or stereotypical in that he is a big, dumb jock. Then, follow it up with Cena coming out looking as if the face of the company has to protect himself with a chain from a guy who can’t talk his way out of a ticket from a blind crossing guard. The chain would have worked before the promo started, but once Brock began speaking, he was left looking silly, not imposing, and hence the need for a weapon is no longer there.
I feel the way they could have saved the promo and redirect the angle properly would for Cena to have had a hidden stipulation in the contract himself. A way of reaffirming the grasp of their hero showing humanity would be for him to have the desperation to be slightly deceptive in order to give him a chance against this monster. Something as simple as a special ref would have given enough to emphasize that Cena’s ability to overcome Brock has to come from his ability to outsmart Brock in order for Cena to “not give up, face challenges, and Rise Above Hate.” By focusing on John being the “strength is what makes me survive” cliché rather than the idea that “I am human, but that’s why I have so much heart” they are choosing to regurgitate the aspect of John’s strength being in his physical power alone, which is ill-advised when faced against a legit fighter in Lesner. This is not a full out heel turn, but a simple tactic that anyone backed in a corner, no matter personal disposition, would do to preserve self. It gives Cena the aspect of being slightly deceptive, human in that he must do this to beat Lesnar, and would have detracted from the atrocity that was Lesnars speaking abilities that night. Is it what everyone wants? No, but it would be more interesting to know that Cena is “trying” to beat Brock by any means necessary (Especially for an Extreme Rule match), rather than just him not being strong or mean enough to get the job done. It might not be something that would have me talking about it with my friends all week, but in my opinion, it would have been better than what I had been getting for the past 3 to 4 years.
As always, feel free to comment and I will reply as I can. If your opinion differs, feel free to make your valid points as I always enjoy hearing them. If you feel like you’ve missed out on the direction of this blog, check out the previous blog archives and catch up a bit on where my opinions are based from(this will also help you understand why I choose the word “loyal”) and what the goal of this series truly is; How to regain loyal fans.