The Announce Table

TAT: Whatever the Fans Want

Hey once again tatfans, I hope you’ve all had a great weekend, I have; I went in goal for the first time in ages for my Sunday league side and only conceded six! Let’s hope my apparent butterfingery doesn’t continue as I type my latest article…

Hey once again tatfans, I hope you’ve all had a great weekend, I have; I went in goal for the first time in ages for my Sunday league side and only conceded six! Let’s hope my apparent butterfingery doesn’t continue as I type my latest article.

So what am I talking about this time? Something I have noticed over the past couple of months watching WWE programming, and something that I have hinted at in a previous column; the WWE are listening to the fans. What?

I said: The WWE are listening to the fans!

It all started about two months ago. Internet forums and magazines, including the Talk Wrestling Online boards, were full of disenchanted grapple fans, angry smarks, confused marks and really, really angry Cruiserweight Action fans. “Why does Vince McMahon promote big lug meatheads over the Cruiserweights?” you cried. “Why can’t he see that the Cruiserweights at his disposal are among the best in the business and are being wasted?” you bellowed. “Why doesn’t he give the little guys a chance?”

So he did.

Now, I’m not sure if the WWE has a team of Internet spies stalking the various forums on a weekly basis, but I’m sure he does. Two months ago, out of the blue, Paul London and Billy Kidman became tag team champions. The forums were happy, the smarks were impressed and the old fools like me who got into wrestling when Piledrivers were still commonplace got to see the closest thing to The Rockers that we’ve had for ten years.

Since then, another Cruiserweight, Spike Dudley, has become the figurehead, the general, of the most successful tag team of all time – his big brothers. He has been feuding with another Cruiserweight, Rey Mysterio, and more recently, Chavo, Kidman and London have been involved in a main story about betrayal and realities of wrestling injuries. Very good stuff.

Since then, London and Kidman have lost their belts to a tag team who’s entrance music is an mash-up that Soulwax would be proud of; Dupree and Kenzo. But they are still hot property on Smackdown, and further gold is just around the corner, surely.

But another thing got my attention the other day; on the last episode of Smackdown, to be honest; the Big Show Contract Signing Skit. In case you missed it: the previous week the Big Show had interrupted a Battle Royal and proceeded to choke slam everyone – quite the comeback. This week Teddy Long tells him that he can choose who he wants to fight at No Mercy, Angle or Eddie, and could we belee’dat holla holla? All he has to do is spend an hour of the show thinking about it, before signing the deal in ring.

So Long and Big Show are in the ring, Eddie and Kurt come down too, but before Big Show makes his decision, Long asks the crowd who THEY want to see Big Show face. The crowd make some noise for Show vs Eddie, but take the roof off for Show vs Kurt. After an in-ring skit that Michael Mann would have been impressed with, Big Show says he wants to fight Kurt.

Now, this was very important, in my eyes; Long asking the crowd who they want to see Big Show face. It was like Long just wanted to make sure the crowd were definitely up for seeing Show vs Angle. Because if they weren’t keen, then there’s always Show vs Eddie. We had two match options, and the crowd were asked to decide which match they would like to see most, and the match they wanted to see most was the match that was signed.

Which brings me onto Taboo Tuesday; WWE’s first ever interactive Pay Per View. The selling point is that the fans can decide who Triple H faces that night. The fans can decide what the Main Event is going to be. Triple H vs Orton may be high on the agenda, but a lot of the fans would love to see HBK again, or Flair, Jericho, Christian or Regal – to name but a few – be given their chance for the belt. Perhaps the fans will continue with their craving for Cruiserweight action and demand that The Hurricane, or Stevie Richards, Tajiri, Shelton or Rob Conway be given a chance. Or perhaps they’ve fallen in love with Eugene again?

Who knows exactly what Taboo Tuesday will have in store for its Main Event dynamics. I doubt the fans will be given free reign to pick whoever they want, we will probably be given a choice of two matches, and Orton may not be included in that list. There may be one other “Fans Pick” match, followed by some innovative extras like alternate camera views, commentary choices, and backstage cameras. Who knows?

What I do know is that although it is early days, I am impressed with the ground that WWE bookers are conceding to the fans. The fans often claim that Vince McMahon is out of touch with what they want, and now he seems to be responding by saying “ok, you choose what you want.”

The WWE are always going to know what they think is best for the industry, for the fans, and what the fans want. Now they are allowing the fans to have a more direct input to the product they watch every week. Ok, so it’s only a couple of small gestures so far, but if Taboo Tuesday is a big success then the fans will have an even bigger say next time.

If Taboo Tuesday is a failure, then the fans will have no one to blame but themselves next time Paul London jobs to Heidenreich.