michael dworkis looks at a highly unique move by the wwe…
I usually do not cover SmackDown, only because there is just so much wrestling I can take in a week. However, a big surprise took place.
In unusual fashion, WWE revealed spoilers for SmackDown which was taped this past Tuesday night, publicly posting the headline on WWE.com that Alberto del Rio defeated The Big Show to win the World Heavyweight Championship. This is the second time in less than a month where a title change was “spoiled” on their website before the airing of the taped show. If you recall, the Monday Night Raw for New Year’s Eve was taped on Saturday, where Wade Barrett pinned Kofi Kingston to win the Intercontinental Title.
So what is going on here? Why is WWE spoiling major title changes before they air on television.
I think it is a smart move. A damn smart move. Most people likely thought that Big Show would carry the title all the way to WrestleMania, and he may very well do that if he regains the title before then. Consider where we are at. The so-called wrestling news websites popularly known as “dirtsheets” often report results of the taped SmackDown shows and fill the rumor mill with more confirmed stories to maintain readership. This is not a bad thing at all, it gives die-hard fans more to speculate and can make the show more entertaining, or less if the news gives something away that fans disagree with.
In this day-and-age, why should WWE not reveal the title change? This tells us two things. One, WWE is not stupid. They know like the rest of us, the results will get leaked onto the internet by fans in attendance, so why not beat the dirtsheets to the punch. Secondly, people who expected a boring show, or another Big Show victory will now tune in to SmackDown to watch Alberto del Rio become World Heavyweight Champion. I am one of those people who plan to set my DVR to watch.
I am sure some websites will call WWE lame for spoiling such a big outcome and risk losing viewership. My question is: How is that lame? How is WWE risking a ratings drop? When was the last time either the WWE or World Championships changed hands on SmackDown? When will you get another chance to watch Big Show lose to Alberto del Rio?
A quick reminder about the beginning of the end for WCW. On Monday Night, January 4th, 1999 WCW featured their main event, a match for the WCW Championship, Kevin Nash defending against Hollywood Hogan. Back then Monday Night Raw was taped, and as part of the war between then-World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling, the commentators on WCW would often give away the results of RAW to discourage viewers from changing the channel. On this night though, Tony Schiavone announced that Mick Foley, aka Mankind was going to defeat The Rock for the WWF Championship. His exact words were “Oh yeah, that’ll put asses in seats.”
It did. That night nearly a third of WCW viewers changed the channel to Monday Night Raw to watch it go down. There is a funny part though. Those who did not change the channel and stuck with WCW Nitro were witness to the birth of “The Finger Poke of Doom.” I am not making this up. While Mick Foley won his first World Title defeating The Rock, the genius booking of WCW had Hogan poke Nash, who fell backwards, allowing Hogan to easily claim his title again. Given his track record, the move may have actually injured Nash. Joking aside, this was the moment where knowing the outcome before it happens turned out to be the biggest mistake for WCW, and the big win for then-WWF as from then on, viewership remained in their favor while this began the end of days for WCW.
To WWE, I say awesome for informing their fans about major title changes on taped shows, or even untelevised events. This, in my humble opinion, brings in viewers and brings ratings.