July 22, 2007
Mike Abitabile

The Devil’s Advocate:
The Following Column Contains Spoilers

Hey, did you know that WWE tapes Smackdown! on Tuesday nights, usually before ECW goes live? Yeah, I think most people did too, no offense. But if you didn’t know, that’s all right too, though, since WWE does a pretty good job of making it look live, without actually saying it is live, at least to the casual eye. So when something big happens at the tapings, WWE has gotten into the habit of posting spoilers on their web site as news breaks (Tuesday while the show is taping) which seems to get on wrestling reporters nerves. Let’s break this down.

Many years ago, I believe during a conference call Q&A session, I think it was Linda McMahon, blamed wrestling sites posting spoilers for sagging ratings. I am sure that didn’t sit well with the reporters, and I am also sure that they never forgot it. So now, they can accuse the WWE of being hypocritical. In a sense, I can agree with the reporters, it is somewhat hypocritical, but on the other hand, WWE has only posted spoilers for big new happenings, not constant spoilers for every show and every match. If I scan the spoilers on a site and see that Smackdown! appears boring this week, I might not be inclined to tape it. But personally, if I see something on WWE.com that says to the effect of, “World Title Shocker!” I would probably make it my business to catch the show. And that is all WWE is trying to do – increase their audience, and get more page clicks at WWE.com, which is the same thing the news sites are trying to do when they post stupid news and try to create controversy. The Smackdown! rating was down two tenths last week, from a 2.7 the week before, to a 2.5 (here). Not that I am saying WWE wouldn’t have posted the spoiler anyways, but the argument can be made that they were reacting to that. By the way, Smackdown! was pre-empted in Philadelphia last week, among other, smaller markets (here): , and as I always warn, that might have something to do with it.

So let’s examine some of the coverage more closely. I believe the whole thing started Monday night during Raw, when JR mentioned that Edge would have a huge announcement on Smackdown! Friday night. As a huge Edge fan, this peaked my interest, so I am sure it also peaked the interest of other people too. By Tuesday, many sites were trying to find out what was going on, such as PWInsider (here). Eventually, they figured it out (here), and tried to remain spoiler-free, by the headlines (“MAJOR SMACKDOWN SPOILER FOR TONIGHT'S TAPING WITH HUGE EFFECT ON BRAND”). As the day moved on, more sites chimed in with the news, and the headlines weren’t as spoiler-free. And keep in mind; this was before WWE.com posted the news:

PWInsider: “LATEST SPOILER NEWS ON WWE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TONIGHT” (here)

Wrestlezone: “Breaking: Edge's Injury Serious - Title Change Tonight?” (here)

Wrestling Observer: “Next Smackdown champ spoiler” (here)

Pro Wrestling Torch: “WWE News: New World Hvt. champion at Smackdown taping tonight; Edge injury update” (here)

What they did, basically, was you give a small piece of the spoiler, but not the whole thing. They told you the World Heavyweight Title was being vacated because Edge was hurt, and that a new champion was crowned. In my book, that is still, somewhat of, a spoiler. Then, the news hit WWE.com:

“Edge Stripped” (here)

Then “Khali’s Greatest Victory” (here)

Which then prompted sites, such as PWInsider (here), to post news that WWE.com has posted spoilers:

The WWE website spoiled this Friday's Smackdown, announcing that Edge relinquished the WWE World champion due to a pectoral tear, as reported this afternoon by PWInsider.com.

Once the championship vacancy is filled tonight during a Battle Royal, the website will likely update again and an official announcement will be made on ECW on Sci Fi.

You know what they say about people who assume, right? Well, they were right, since that announcement never came during ECW on Sci-Fi. But anyway, back to my point. WWE may have posted one spoiler, but they are still keeping the rest of the story under wraps. If you want to know who Khali will defend against at the Great American Bash, you would have to tune into Smackdown! on Friday night (or go read spoilers at another site) because WWE.com will only tell you Batista will fight Kane and the winner will be the number one contender (here).

Now granted, the spoiler WWE gave may have been more important, but the sites and WWE basically did the same thing. They posted a piece of the spoiler for all to see, and the rest was not mentioned in a headline. WWE posted a piece of the spoiler, and then teased the rest so you watch the show.

Finally, I’ll point you to this Wrestlezone article (here), with the headline “News On CM Punk, Kurt Angle, Divas, Masters, More.”

Sounds innocent enough, right? But it’s the “more” part that will get you: With Edge out of action for several months due to an injury, and The Great Khali winning a battle royal to win the World Heavyweight title, the new Smackdown main event for the Great American Bash has The Great Khali defending the title against Batista and Kane on Sunday in San Jose, CA. The 20 man battle royal came down to Batista, Kane, and The Great Khali.

Oh come on. I was trying so hard and you go and just post that out of nowhere! Let’s start a boycott, or better yet, a riot. Where are the headlines on other sites that say “Wrestlezone Posts Spoilers Without Warning”?

In all seriousness though, I am just trying to point out that nobody really goes to an insane degree to keep something this huge as a spoiler, so the sites should chill out if WWE.com posts what happened in an effort to gain ratings and site clicks. They don’t do it all the time, and on “normal” weeks, the news sites don’t use headlines with too much “spoilery” information either. Basically, chill out, it’s not the end of the world because WWE.com told you who the new World Heavyweight Champion is. There is more important stuff to worry about. Like the fact that The Great Khali is the World Heavyweight Champion. And come Monday morning, the World Heavyweight Champion will either be Khali, Kane or Batista. Let’s worry about that.

I would also like to hear from readers, if they read Smackdown spoilers beforehand or not. I feel that the majority of people do, which would nullify this argument even more, but if I am wrong about that, please feel free to let me know about your habits.

Feedback is always welcome at figurefanatic@gmail.com or you can visit my blog here.

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