It’s that time of year again. It’s time for WWE to head over to Saudi Arabia for Crown Jewel and that means the fans are not going to be happy. I’m certainly one of them as I can’t even force myself to get excited over these shows. I know there are a lot of reasons and most of them are quite valid, but what is the big underlying reason that these shows are just loathed? There has to be something, as we have now seen three of them with a fourth coming tomorrow, but you never see a show nearly despised like this series. That’s what we’re going to look at today, as I think I know what it is, at least for me.
My parents divorced when I was eight years old. It was a big hit as your dream world is shattered and suddenly you realize that everything isn’t quite what you thought it was. Both of them helped me through it and with the assistance of some of my friends, I managed to get used to the idea of living with my mom and seeing my dad on Sunday. That would be the case for several years, as is the case with a lot of newly divorced parents and their only child. It went along well enough for the time, but then one Sunday changed things again.
After a little while, my dad got married again and, like many kids, I didn’t quite think much of my stepmom (She’s not my mom, so why is she married to my dad?). She was nice enough to me though and did try to make things as un-awkward as possible. Around this same time, the Star Wars prequels were coming out and, as a die hard Star Wars fan, I was thrilled (Yeah I like the prequels. I’m weird like that.). I had seen the previous four Star Wars movies with my dad (who slept through them but I didn’t care) so it made sense that I would see the fifth with him too.
It started with this:
This time though, my stepmom came with us and of course he stayed wide awake for a movie he didn’t care about or understand. She was with us at supper too and thanked him for dinner and the movie (cue TBS’ Dinner and a Movie theme, plus a Randy Savage OH YEAH for old times’ sake). Over time, that started to get inside my head. Instead of that Sunday being the day between the two of us, this one felt like the two of them were on a date and I was just there with them. That’s not a good feeling, and it’s the same feeling I get about the Saudi Arabia shows.
Simply put, the WWE does not need its fans for these shows because they’re not about us. These shows are not for the entertainment of the regular fans or for the people who stick with WWE through every boneheaded idea and numbskulled concept that they throw at us every year. No, these shows are about WWE making money and Saudi Arabia getting some world class entertainment brought to their country to show off how awesome their kingdom really and truthfully is. If the fans came along for the ride then great, but the Saudi Arabian money was more than enough to stop WWE from feeling lonely on their trips around the world.
That’s where WWE lost us on these shows. The build for the first one, Greatest Royal Rumble, came right after WrestleMania 34 and the show was held that same month. For weeks we were subjected to what felt like travelogues about the AMAZING Saudi Arabia and got to hear about how beautiful and progressive and incredible the place was. Why were we hearing that you ask? I’ll give you a hint and it involves a big fat check with WWE written in the Pay To The Order Of section.
This show wasn’t about us, it wasn’t for us, and neither WWE nor Saudi Arabia cared if we were happy or not. We were coming along for the ride and if we didn’t like it, no one cared because the check had already cleared. That was the new reality we were living in: WWE was no longer this world that you got sucked into and believed what you were seeing. For the first time (ok not really but it was never this blatant), WWE wasn’t even trying to pretend that this was anything more than a show being put on so they could pad their bank accounts.
Then we moved on to this disaster:
As you can guess, that is a major problem for wrestling fans. Since there is no off season in wrestling, there is never a chance to take your head out of things and just let yourself breathe. Being a wrestling fan is a constant investment in what these people are doing and what they are all about. It’s a seven day a week, twelve month a year process most of the time, but now it isn’t about us anymore. Thanks for coming people and we appreciate all of your time and money, but the grownups have something to do so go entertain yourselves while we do adult business over here.
How does that make you feel as a fan? Of course WWE is always out to get your money, as any business is supposed to do. There’s nothing wrong with that because they have to pay their bills. Before that though, they had this special feeling where you could let it go because these people were your heroes and no matter what they did, they were still there for you no matter and everything was going to be ok in the end. Family doesn’t let you down, right?
Well now they do. Now we have to put up with the GREATEST ROYAL RUMBLE EVER and “this show will equal or exceed WrestleMania” or a match to determine the Greatest Tag Team In The World (because those belts are just props while this is for REAL). That’s a different reality to be thrown into and WWE is too busy counting the zeroes on the check to worry about us having this new world thrust onto us.
Then comes the other part: the time after the show. On Friday, it’s going to be November 1 and we’re supposed to just go right back to where we were before: WWE is the best thing ever, these people are all mad at each other again, Saudi Arabia isn’t going to be mentioned for five and a half months and hey Survivor Series is coming up and we’ve got a bunch of people mad at each other for reasons that are suddenly coming back together now that we’re paying attention to the regular fans again. Apparently we’re just supposed to roll with that and never question it, like it’s some kind of fake reality that the company has set up for us.
And then there was this, but it was so big and awesome:
Contrary to what WWE thinks, its fans aren’t stupid. I know there are a lot of younger WWE fans, but some kids are smart enough to know when they’re being treated like they don’t matter. WWE fans are the same way, as they know better than to think that these shows that only started last year are now on par with WrestleMania. As Paul Heyman said, there is one show of the year as big as WrestleMania and that is WrestleMania. Don’t try to come in here and tell us that THIS show, which matters one night and one night only, is now equal to (Or exceeding!) the show that has been the pinnacle of your sport for thirty five years r.
That’s where we are now though. We’re in a new reality where WWE is fine with saying that it’s all about the money and if you have a problem with that, they don’t mind because they’re getting paid. It’s a world where the fans aren’t as important as the rich people paying for the shows, because they’re going to be around for a long time. As a long time fan, that takes a lot of getting used to and for a lot of fans, it’s never going to feel like the kind of place we want to spend time. Say, like three hours on Monday and two on Friday?
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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