Wrestling is funny. Wrestling fans are hilarious.
A wise man once said, "It's in WWE's best interest to constantly insult its fan base." Could you imagine if that was Burger King's policy? It may sound counterintuitive, but its validity is undeniable. There are people in WWE right now whose job is literally to conceive ways to offend you as a fan. And you may not love getting belittled, but you love what happens next.
Fans of all kinds are addicted to reconciliation and catharsis. Chicago Cubs fans will tell you that the century of losing was totally worth a 2016 World Series win. Same goes for Patriots fans who had to overcome a totalitarian NFL to win their latest Super Bowl. Fans universally love two things, one is winning and the other is being miserable.
This dichotomy is the lifeblood of professional wrestling. Instead of winning and losing, wrestling calls it heels and babyfaces.
In 2017, it's never been harder to be a heel. Simply running down the local sports team or thrusting one's pelvis at the front row won't cut it nowadays. Heels used to be attacked by militant grandmas. Heels used to feed off of small children's tears. Heel used to be hated.
Today, most of the heels have cool t-shirts and even more impressive move sets. Wrestling's bad guys have become agreeable, so much so, that some people would actually argue that the heel/babyface dynamic is actually dead.
Oh, but that is just not the case. Heels aren't dead, they've just changed. Bad guys are different now because wrestling is different. The sport's omnipotent force of kayfabe had to morph because fans have gotten smarter - we'll call this evolution. With the internet, WWE has to presume that fans can and will know everything. WWE has gotten so transparent that via betting lines (yes, you can bet on wrestling) the results of an entire show can be spoiled. How is that fun?
We're digressing a touch, but it applies. WWE finds itself having to adapt to today's conscious wrestling fan. Not just fans with Reddit accounts, we're talking fans of the "woke" variety or socially aware fans.
So when James Ellsworth yanked down the Women's Money in the Bank briefcase this Sunday, he became the biggest heel in the company.
Not only did Ellsworth encroach the rules by snatching that briefcase, he stole a moment from women's wrestling. For about 2 years now, WWE has invoked a "Women's Revolution" where female wrestlers will no longer be neglected, but an integral part of WWE programming. For the most part, WWE has succeeded, and if you disagree, please think of a time when actual women's wrestling was better than it is today.
The first ever Women's Money in the Bank match was supposed to be a commemorative moment for the Women's Revolution. But Ellsworth didn't just give it a black eye, he spat in its face.
And it was brilliant.
Twitter blew up with social outrage. How could a man be the first Ms. Money in the Bank? Why is WWE reinforcing the gender divide? Why did Carmella need a man's help?
But here's the real question that needs to be asked: What do you think you're watching?
Wrestling is not the place for social activism. Any expectation of decency should have left you long ago - this shit is fake, remember? If professional athletes do something morally questionable we put them on cultural trial. If a wrestler does something awful, it's part of the show and should be treated as such. It's worth underlining that it is in WWE's best interest to insult you. By starting a movement on Twitter, you have played directly into WWE's hands.
Armed with the heat-seeking missile that is James Ellsworth, it's time for WWE to double-down. Due to so much backlash, SmackDown General Manager, Daniel Bryan stripped Ellsworth and Carmella of their Money in the Bank briefcase. The kicker? We will be getting a Money in the Bank rematch next Tuesday on SmackDown. As fans feel they have summoned justice, WWE must rip it from them. Carmella should win next Tuesday. She should win with the help of James Ellsworth.
Some would call it trolling, but in WWE that's just good business. Because if Ellsworth ruins that match again, the amount of money people will pay to see he and Carmella thwarted would be incredible. The Women's Revolution doesn't depend on good wrestling, it depends on fans caring. Fan clearly care about this moment.0comments
So yes, it does seem like WWE made a tone-deaf booking decision. But, let it play out. It's already worked tremendously as more people are talking about women's wrestling than ever. Isn't that the point?