Recently, TNA started its partly viewer-driven ranking system for #1 contenders, and now WWE has revealed a couple of aspects of viewers choice for future events. Next week, RAW will be a viewers choice episode in which, ostensibly, viewers will have the opportunity to book the show. Not only that, but the next season of NXT will be half influenced by viewers votes.
On the surface, this is an evolution which allows viewers to ensure popular wrestling television. However, I worry that it is bad for the industry, simply because the fact is, wrestling viewers, while having sincere opinions, cannot be trusted en masse to help choose a future WWE star, or to book a productive wrestling show.
For instance, next week’s RAW, if it does live up to its billing as giving great freedom to the fan, will probably not be very productive towards the Fatal Four Way PPV and will no doubt disrupt burgeoning feuds. At least in this instance, it is a one-off and shouldn’t do too much damage.
As for NXT, while it shouldn’t affect storylines, there is a danger that the real deserving candidates wont be given the opportunity and wont give slower developing characters a chance to grow. I imagine, for example, that if the viewers got a say in who would have won season 1, the winner could have been someone like Heath Slater or Justin Gabriel, while people who are superior but perhaps need more time to make an impact, like Wade Barratt or Daniel Bryan, may have been rejected out of hand. This move could change an interesting mock-reality show in to a less interesting kind-of reality show.
I haven’t been drawn to watch TNA in a while, but I remember how Desmond Wolfe got a title shot partly due to viewers votes. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but there is a real danger that it will start to rob the main-event of meaningful storylines. Say TNA want RVD to feud with Matt Morgan, for example, and they set up some sort of conflict between them, but the fans overwhelmingly vote for Jeff Hardy to have a title shot. Where does that leave the storytelling? The answer is, at best, messy.