The Element of Surprise
The date was January 27th, 2008. The arena, Madison Square Garden. The Pay-Per-View, The Royal Rumble.
I was 12 year old die hard John Cena fan. That night my basement housed my best friend, my older brothers, and all of their friends. I sat on the ground right in front of the television wide eyed and completely encompassed. The countdown for number 30 hit and I was on the edge of my seat (well…carpet, in this case). Cena coming back wasn’t something I even thought about with how long his time out was supposed to be. When his music hit, i lost it. I jumped from my spot on the ground and screamed like crazy. It was shocking, exciting, and I had no clue it coming.
You can call it childhood naivety if you want, but that moment was a giant surprise nonetheless and that is one of the greatest things I miss about wrestling.
Let’s take it from the top. The internet is equal parts wonderful and horrifying. You can look up anything your heart desires through google, hashtags, or any other search method you can think of.
As a kid, not only was the access to all of that stuff limited but I only ever knew of one place to get information on wrestling outside of wwe.com. That website was pwmania.com. I can’t even remember off the top of my head if that website was around in 2008, but that’s beside the point.
The internet is endless and with social media being so prominent and so many other dirt sheets make their way into the light…well, it truly feels like it’s impossible to keep secrets in wrestling. From fans standing outside of arenas and posting photos of wrestlers walking inside, or websites posting confirmations of somebody making a return it just feels like it’s lost that element to it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love talking to my friends and brother about ‘what if this match happens’ or ‘what if this feud happens’. What if scenarios are great and it’s fun to get into deep conversations about wrestling but it’s just a bunch of fans creating scenarios.
That used to be one of my favorite parts of being a fan. I didn’t know what was going to happen. There weren’t hundreds of people talking about John Cena being spotted going into the arena that day. There weren’t break downs of months or some random ‘source’ confirming that he would be returning that night.
That adrenaline rush. That excitement. That feeling of watching my favorite wrestler running into the ring and kicking ass again was astounding.
So, maybe there are a couple of factors to bring into account here. Yes, the storylines can end up being obvious sometimes so there’s no real shock element that can be done. Other times the ‘shocking’ parts could be done in feuds or segments that fans generally don’t care about.
Whatever the case is, it’s a part of being a fan that I miss. Personally, I try not to venture too deep into social media posts on pay-per-views. I don’t check dirt sheet websites too often, because I want as much of that as I can hold onto.
Nobody watches their favorite TV show and wants to know every single thing (or have a 99% guesstimate) of what’s going to happen every episode. Nobody wants to see backstage photos that give away a crucial part of Game of Thrones. Why is that any different when it comes to wrestling?