One of the weirdest parts of being a WWE fan is when the powers that be (which essentially means Vince McMahon, but he also has a staff of other writers) decide to troll the audience and aggravate them for no apparent storyline purpose. An example of this occurred last night in Los Angeles when The Miz introduced two unknown local talents to face he and Shane McMahon, and wound up losing via pinfall.
This was definitely a swerve. Normally when enhancement talents are out there, their purpose is to lose to the established acts in squash matches. Perhaps, the audience thought, this was a way to build momentum with The Miz and Shane as a tag-team (which would be an unnecessary use of The Miz in and of itself, but also not as annoying as what happened).
On one hand, WWE will say wins and losses don’t matter. And sure, they ultimately really don’t because this is a scripted soap opera. But, it’s a scripted soap opera that in the long arc is supposed to be meritocratic, and WWE sure treats wins and losses like they matter when they are trying to make one of their preferred talents look strong.
WWE fans constantly have to have their heads on a swivel to make sure their favorite performers don’t get buried. An example of this happened with Rusev, who was the hottest act in the company for the first half of the year. There was no storyline payoff. His tag-team with Aiden English was broken up without having won anything. He did not appear at Survivor Series — as he tweeted, he wasn’t even given the “opportunity” of a qualifying match — and he was not featured on television last night for Smackdown (he did have a match afterwards in the mixed match tag-team challenge). It all reflects a bizarre disdain for the audience.
I get that WWE can’t give the fans what they want at all times because then the payoffs — like we’ve gotten with the wonderful Becky Lynch in recent months — wouldn’t be as satisfying. But, there needs to be cohesion in storytelling. There is only so long the audience will put up with being disrespected. WWE has a massive new TV deal with FOX (and also an uptick from Raw on USA) that has them set up financially regardless of their product, but it should be noted that their TV ratings are sagging. They had record lows in September.
As for The Miz, it’s presumable that his story will bend towards the title picture with his longtime nemesis Daniel Bryan as WWE champion. For him to logically “deserve” that, it makes zero sense for him to be getting pinned in a tag-team match by enhancement talent. What was this in service of?