It’s that time again. Wrestlemania season aside, perhaps the most exciting period. Its hard to believe that Bragging Rights would evolve – almost Pokèmon like – into a big four PPV but that’s where we stand. Survivor Series 2017: Under Siege will as things stand be sans Steven Seagal and if that’s not the saddest thing you’ve ever read, then let me alert you to the fact that sentence is a two letter substitution away from featuring this guy.
Competition is fine. Healthy even. As far as the wrassling business goes the absence of any real rivalry is probably the biggest factor for the stagnation that followed, audience and ratings wise. The thing is, you can’t compete with yourself. No matter how many times you sit on your left hand and wait for it to go numb. Oh wait, that’s a conversation for another article.
Ultimately – and where all of this falls down – is that given what we know of the circumstances surrounding wrestling (which is to say everything on screen is completely legitimate) then you could make more out of said forced conflict. The fractious nature of booking long term versus the fluid nature of crowd reactions does mean that the alternative might be too dangerous and even anticlimactic but still, given that we’re meant to buy in to this rabid blood fued all of a sudden isn’t it worth a try?
A coming together of Smackdown and Raw doesn’t matter or is even unique because we’ve seen it a million times before. The point that nobody cares about brand loyalty because they’re all twelve months away from being traded anyway is what stops something like this from ever meaning anything. In this case there are two choices. Stop the constant swapping, or give long term motivations for caring.
There it is. That horrific phrase that all wrestling commentators on the internet always present. Long term. We’re not asking for a year long storyline whereby someone is mistreated on Raw, goes to Smackdown and gets a chance only to be traded back whereby his loyalties are questioned upon such a challenge. Just the occasional “My work environment is the best because I’m here”. Essentially it’s what they’re doing already. Subtext isn’t exactly WWE’s forte but it makes a visual like what happened on Monday night much more impactful than the idea that once again there are multiple strands to pull at.
At the end of the day, the same point will always ring true. If you enjoy then it’s right (for you). The thing is that ultimately we will always take our cue from them. We are the audience – sorry Universe – and they are the storytellers. If what we see is that Raw and Smackdown don’t have a rivalry 11 months of the year (and are indeed happy to help one another out just one week ago) then why are we to care?
If you want to treat the two brands as genuine rivals then let them be that. Treat them like WCW back in the day. Then again, to do that, you’d have to actually admit WCW was a threat. Suddenly it all makes sense. Smackdown and Raw are simultaneously both, without the animosity. There can never be any tangible threat because there never was any tangible threat. Let’s hope that’s not always the case. Both for WWE and in the wider wrestling world.