Cyber Sunday was a PPV that WWE retired in 2008.
The premise was pretty simple. WWE fans would have a variety of stipulations to vote on. For example, who would referee a big match between Chris Jericho and Batista – Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, or Steve Austin? As with most things WWE, it was rigged. The fans were never really in control. Also like most things WWE.
Now might be the time to bring it back.
WWE shows have taken a strange turn during the coronavirus pandemic. NXT experimented with an old staple, using the In Your House moniker for their WWE Network special in June. This month, The Horror Show At Extreme Rules tried some new things with – um – varied results.
Comparing just those two shows, In Your House definitely received the warmer welcome. WWE has a vast library of retired TV shows and PPV events. If there was ever a time to use them, it’s now. When live crowds aren’t likely to return for the foreseeable future.
Fans can’t currently change the outcome of stories or matches with their literal voices. But Cyber Sunday would be a much-needed shot in the arm for WWE.
Here’s five reasons that now is the time for a Cyber Sunday comeback.
5. To Make The Fans Part Of The Action Again
WWE likes to crow that they always do what’s right for the fans. No matter how much hard evidence there is to the contrary. Exhibit A, CM Punk. Then there’s exhibit B, Daniel Bryan. And the list goes on.
But live crowds have always been the ultimate barometer for whether or not something is working. In some rare circumstances, they can actually change the nature of the program. Again, see Daniel Bryan and WrestleMania XXX.
Cyber Sunday has the potential to reconnect the fans with the action.
Wrestling fans around the world are lamenting not being able to be there at ringside. They’re itching to be a part of wrestling again. Twitter, Facebook, the internet and general is how a lot of fans are watching wrestling in the first place. Why not make it the conduit for a major show?
4. To Force Creative To Get – You Know – Creative
WWE creative has been – what’s a kind way to put it – spinning their wheels. They’ve been spinning their wheels for more than a decade.
They put the rocket pack on Roman Reigns in the worst possible way. And the lack of long-term planning keeps rearing its ugly head. They built their women’s division around Ronda Rousey only to see her leave the company. Then they built it around Becky Lynch, who is now off having a baby.
However, they have shown many times that they can be creative and effective in short bursts. Cyber Sunday could give creative an opportunity to flex some long-atrophied muscles. Granted, as we said, the voting would almost certainly be rigged. But the engagement from fans, if high enough, could force them to think a little harder about which way they want to go.
Imagine WWE actually having to put some forethought into their storytelling. Let’s say they want the fans to choose between a 2/3 falls match, a submission match, and a cage match. That forces the writers to constantly have options. It forces creative to play a single storyline by three different sets of rules.
In my mind, Cyber Sunday would be announced one month and would actually air two months later. It would give WWE the opportunity to do something that – with rare exception – they seem to be allergic to. The slow burn.
3. To Give The Illusion Of Unpredictability
WWE is a painfully predictable product.
Not in the sense of being able to figure out who is gonna win and who’s gonna lose. But when you look at a WWE card, you can guess which matches will work and which ones won’t. When you tune in to WWE Raw, you know the format – opening promo, non-title tag team match, backstage interview, etc.
Cyber Sunday wouldn’t necessarily be any different. But it would almost certainly feel different.
And with wrestling, sometimes that can make all the difference. How many times over the last several years, for maybe one or two shows, do we get the sense, “This one seems different. I think this one could be awesome.”
That feeling of straight-up not knowing is something Cyber Sunday can bring back to WWE.
2. To Be An Outlet To Start Storylines
Starting new storylines is a longstanding struggle for WWE.
More often than not, the company seems to think just booking a big match is the key to success. But the stories seem to start in a vacuum.
WrestleMania as an event is proof in and of itself. Here’s what I mean by that. Without looking it up, who was Becky Lynch’s first challenger after WrestleMania 35? Becky becoming champion was treated as an end unto itself.
The aforementioned air of unpredictability for Cyber Sunday can change that. Writers, fans, and wrestlers alike could find the creative juices flowing. The votes from the fans could change creative’s direction and force them to start a story they hadn’t planned for. Maybe ones they don’t even want.
WWE might not care about the Cyber Sunday results. But there they are on Twitter and across social media. They can’t be completely ignored.
1. To Take The Fans’ Temperature
Right now, WWE doesn’t have a good means of figuring out what is and isn’t working. The “fans” are their hand-picked developmental stars. And you can’t rely on ratings alone.
If you were going to judge only by ratings, you’d have to assume that WWE is ready to close its doors any minute.
Cyber Sunday has the potential to cut through all that fat. Obviously, WWE can’t ask the fans “who should win?” But with social media metrics driving the narrative in so many businesses, the level of engagement alone can tell WWE how many people are engaged in which storylines.
If a million Twitter users cast votes on who should referee, say, Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler. And only 750,000 vote on the stipulation for Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt, you at least have a measuring rod for what the fans care about.
In short, Cyber Sunday could be the shot in the arm that WWE desperately needs.
All images courtesy of WWE.