|This was spoiled before it happened, no big deal|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
The common logic is that by spoiling the results, WWE does a major disservice to itself by shooing away viewers who only tune in to see swerves, finishes, and catchphrases. While that was true in the secretive Attitude Era days, where shows were devoid of anything that would resemble "steak," nowadays, WWE has morphed into a company that is more interested in a narrative. Whether it's through telling a story or providing a wrestling match that even ten years ago could only happen on pay-per-view, the shock moments are now in equilibrium with the actual guts of what happens when the cameras are rolling. Of course, the general criticism is that WWE isn't particularly good at telling a story. While I agree with that, there's no doubt to me that they're at least trying.
Joey Styles or any number of WWE office employees can come out on Twitter or in the sheets and claim that the company spoiled the result so that they could get the jump on news sites. That might be a valid reason, but to me, it's far more interesting to examine why they would feel the need to beat those looking to post juicy SKOOPZ on their websites. There are two possible reasons. One is that WWE has accepted a defeatist attitude in that its taped shows are going to get out, so why let someone else get the cache of being the ones to report what now passes for prime news. Then again, that didn't stop them from trying to keep the secret even as recently as May of 2011, when Randy Orton defeated Christian for the World Heavyweight Championship two days after he won it in emotional fashion.
The reason that I think WWE has taken to posting major developments to their site, though, whether it be Wade Barrett or Kofi Kingston winning the Intercontinental Championship or this most recent one, is that they are assuming the fanbase is changing, that people aren't watching for the same reasons they were in 1998. No longer are people tuning in just for results (although yes, results are still somewhat important), but that they want to see the process too, and that the means to whatever ends they get to are just as important, if not moreso than those ends.
In a way, that makes sense. The audience isn't bloated with casual fans as it was back in the day. A lot of the people who are left are the core wrestling fans that they originally were catering to. We are the ones who watch not just to see who wins, but to see how good the matches were, to soak in the performances. They know we'll watch no matter how much of the results we know going into the event. There's something to be said about execution. To use an example from a completely different company, knowing that Eddie Kingston defeated Kevin Steen by disqualification after a low blow sounds underwhelming, but watching the match and seeing the way it happened, with a completely flustered Steen substituting getting knocked the heck out by a second Backfist to the Future with a more empowering loss so to speak, it gave a completely different impression of what that result meant. Context is important.
It all jibes with the way WWE has changed its business model. People who are still stuck in the past and who kvetch about "low" ratings ignore the fact that reports are generally saying that USA Network is thrilled with the returns they're getting on the third hour of RAW (that they requested WWE add in the first place). In the past, declining ratings may have meant a fledgling new Champion have the belt taken off him, but here we are, in a "ratings nosedive," and CM Punk has been WWE Champion for 420 days, give or take a few. WWE focusing on Twitter and Tout shows that they're not just interested in eyeballs on the product, but that they value interaction.
Hell, if they were doing "bad business," do you think that they'd have scored the most buys for WrestleMania in its history in 2012? Who cares if The Rock came back for that event, people aren't going to spend $60 on an event just because they heard a dude they loved when they were in high school was going to wrestle. There has to be some investment, some cache. That investment is shown in far different ways, not the least of which being the fact that they've added two new shows in the last calendar year.
Frankly, it's a development that I wholeheartedly approve. Wrestling fans are evolving, so wrestling companies ought to as well. The process is always more important than the results are, and getting out of their own spoilers shows that WWE at least has the general idea in their head that this is true.