The Anti-Antagonist: Timing is Everything?

Adam Gorzelsky

WWE RawI’m torn this week…Torn in the sense that I honestly have no idea how to feel about the current state of the WWE and, in particular, its main event picture. I’m normally a rather opinionated guy, but this week, I’m more or less thinking out loud based upon a number of observations and conversations that I’ve had the past few weeks.

By now, it’s safe to say that my feelings about the WWE Championship picture and the WWE Championship in general are well established and have been somewhat beaten to death (5 week hitting streak). It is my opinion that the WWE Championship always should be the focal point of the company unless a sufficiently compelling short-term alternative absolutely has to steal that spotlight i.e. Rock/Cena at Wrestlemania.

It is also my opinion that the current championship picture has reached a level of intrigue that renders the failure to follow this championship formula absolutely inexcusable. No Way Out did nothing to change this opinion as the triple threat match continued the pattern of delivering top notch in-ring action combined with intricate and compelling story telling on both a micro and macro level.

As I watched John Cena slog through yet another main event, I couldn’t help but wonder why this was the last match of the evening…What was I missing? Based on the comparative level of buzz in the crowd and the prestige that should surround the WWE Title, I couldn’t help but wonder if Vince McMahon was sitting at ringside realizing where he went wrong…I doubt it.

Taking into account the events of this past Raw, it appears as though this frustrating pattern is showing no signs of stopping. The WWE Title combatants opened the show with a solid tag match, only to remain incognito the remainder of the night…By way of contrast, the show was bookended with yet another awkward “main event” that universally has been denounced across the Internet as an abject failure.

Yet, as I’ve thought about what we’ve seen the last few days, I can’t help but ask myself if these timing issues really matter after all….Again, this is coming from an individual who has spent the better part of almost two months campaigning for “last match of the night” honors for CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.

At the end of the day though, does it REALLY make a difference? I personally would have enjoyed the tag match that we saw on Raw at the beginning, end, or middle of the night…I would have purchased No Way Out with a strong desire to see the triple threat match regardless of its place on the card…In other words, apart from my personal belief that it makes perfect business sense, I can’t truly state that I would have enjoyed this feud any less had it been placed in the stereotypical main event spot for the past two months.

Ask yourself whether or not the spot on the card itself brings the main event feel, or if we as fans provide that aura…If you watched with the belief that Punk/Bryan/Kane was the match of the night, it WAS the main event for you…If you attended No Way Out and cheered your balls off during that match, it WAS the main event for you…Judging from the crowd reaction during the Triple Threat match as compared to Cena/Big Show, there is little question that the main event took place before Ryback’s feeding frenzy. We as fans have the power to define the main event of the night no matter what message is sent by the powers that be.

The same even can be said for the WWE Title itself. The proverbial game of hot-potato ended, with CM Punk now having the longest reign since John Cena in 06-07…Despite this fact, the stat that we continue to hear (from myself included) is that the Title hasn’t been in the “main event” of a PPV since TLC in December. Once again, I ask whether this reality has to devalue the Title in our minds…Regardless of the message that WWE officials appear to be sending about their beliefs, if you’ve grown up respecting the Title, is your investment in the outcome of each match necessarily dependant on the whims of WWE management?

There is no question that CM Punk has become a major face of the company…a role that he has embraced with enthusiasm as he proudly displays his Championship (not a belt) on every media outlet within earshot. This is the exposure at stake in every title match and the sole reason why the length of Punk’s title run has done more to re-establish the Title’s prestige than a few “go home” PPV or Raw matches….After all, a new face of the company cannot be crowned every two months.

Again, I want to reiterate what I said at the beginning of this piece…I don’t necessarily profess my belief in these points at the current time…However, what I do recognize is the simple fact that a shift in the WWE Title’s sequential importance is unlikely anytime soon. So I ask…Is it time for we as fans to worry about the aspects of the business over which we have some degree of control?

Would I love to see CM Punk and Daniel Bryan headline Summerslam? You’re damn right I would…But do I NEED to see CM Punk and Daniel Bryan headline Summerslam? I’m not so sure…I honestly can’t say that such a match would feel any less important in MY mind if it took place earlier in the night…At the end of the day, does or should anything else really matter to me as a fan?

What I do know is that a large portion of the WWE audience consists of kids and families who flock to John Cena because of his never-say-die character and because of a corresponding need to see the black and white triumph of “good” over “evil.” These are the kinds of people who NEED to have the “go home happy” moment, or for that matter, the anger and confusion that results when their hero is left lying in the middle of the ring at the end of the night.

Ultimately, I guess we all need to ask ourselves what we NEED to enjoy the product, while keeping in mind that diverse interests populate the WWE Universe and the wrestling world as a whole. Does this mean that I’ve abandoned my crusade to see CM Punk/Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship in the traditional “main event” spotlight? Hell no!! But it may mean that I won’t let WWE’s business decisions, for better or for worse, ruin MY main event.

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