I don’t know if you read my review of WWE Money In The Bank 2019, but it made me mad.
It made me really, really mad.
And for reasons that I don’t quite understand (that’s part of why I’m writing this), I keep coming back. And I feel that I’m not the only WWE fan to feel like this.
We complain, and we bitch and we moan, and we keep — coming — BACK.
Why? Surely not everyone enjoys hate-watching a product. I mean, for this many millions of people to watch something solely to hate it would be a phenomenon.
There has to be more to it. And I’m going to try to figure out what it is.
I’ve been willing myself to this rationale for years.
I keep telling myself, “Yeah, none of these stories make sense, but I know the match will be good.” And if we’re being honest, that shouldn’t be good enough.
We covered at length recently a pro wrestling story angle that had all the elements required for good television. Setup, payoff, conclusion, and a thread to pick up on.
The ending of Money In The Bank had none of those things. There was no setup. Brock Lesnar had no beef with anyone in that ring. In fact, he hadn’t been on television since Rollins defeated him at WWE WrestleMania 35.
But one thing I can’t take away from anyone in that men’s MITB match or from anyone in the company is that they are phenomenal athletes. With rare exception, there’s not a match on any given card that I don’t know ahead of time will be amazing.
But knowing ahead of time that Seth Rollins or AJ Styles will put on a pro wrestling clinic shouldn’t be enough. When I tune in, I don’t care who wins or loses. I care about how good the match will be.
And that shouldn’t be enough.
Where’s It Going?
Triple H has become famous the last few years for reassuring fans that the story isn’t finished yet. In fact, he said as much when he appeared on Steve Austin’s podcast on the WWE Network back in 2015.
“This is the thing that makes me laugh,” Triple H told Austin. “We are the book that never ends. You can’t fully knock today, because the book never ends.”
Yes I can. Yes I can absolutely knock your storytelling. The fact that the story isn’t finished has nothing to do with anything until the story is over.
And as I say that, I know full well that I’m dumb enough to tune in for the next show, the next pay-per-view, the next WWE Network special, all in hopes that it’ll come to a conclusion that ties everything together
But Brock Lesnar winning the Money In The Bank match pretty much stands as an example that a great show can be beaten back by a horrible ending. By the same token, a great ending doesn’t necessarily make up for a crappy show. And despite knowing that, I keep giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Awesome to see @BrockLesnar win the #MoneyInTheBank match…even though he wasn’t officially entered! Brock is the future of the biz and this perfect example of genius booking shows why @WWE will remain on top FOREVER! #GoBrockGo
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) May 20, 2019
I keep telling myself, “Okay, they’ve got to be going somewhere with this.” And I’m stupid enough that it doesn’t matter if I believe it or not.
But WWE proves to fans week after week, year after year, that they’re booking this crap on a napkin five minutes before showtime, and it shows, and it’s frustrating.
They don’t even hope I won’t notice. Vince and company know that I’ll notice, and they don’t care, because they know I’ll come back anyway.
Follow The Money
We, as WWE fans, are a beaten fan base. We know it doesn’t matter. That none of this matters.
Someone once said that Vince McMahon is going to make money in spite of himself. The machine is just too big, and it runs too fast.
There are shareholders pouring in money. Television networks dumping more cash in. Rights and licensing fees add more to the bottom line. What are we supposed to do? Where are we supposed to go?
It’s not like there’s something else that’s immediately and readily available for us to watch, so we grin and bear it, and we continue to watch this absolute garbage heap because we want our wrestling fix.
There’s other options like New Japan or Ring of Honor, and soon there’ll be AEW on a very, very big stage. But the unfamiliar is scary. Nobody wants to sit back and learn a whole new format and meet a whole different cast of characters.
But until we’re willing to do that, WWE will continue to work us over and dump as much trash on top of our heads as they want. And we’ll let them get away with it.
Because we’ll stick with what we know. Wrestling fans are predictable, and to change that, we need to have a truly unpredictable product. But we also need a product whose unpredictability makes sense
As long as WWE knows there’s no money in making things make sense, they’re not going to. And we have to continue to suffer and say nothing.
All images courtesy of WWE.