Sunday night, Brookyln let Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and the entire WWE down.
In addition to the New Era bringing with it consistently excellent matches, it has brought a level of fan involvement the likes of which WWE has ever seen. This fan involvement is not like that of the Attitude Era, a period of time that welcomed profanity and sophomoric behavior like The Godfather welcomed a red light special.
Rather than referencing the human body’s more private areas, today’s WWE fan becomes part of the show by voicing their opinions of the quality of program they are being provided. The New Era has warranted this sense of entitlement, as it is a clear response to the changes fans have been demanding from Vince McMahon after CM Punk’s departure, the hesitation to push Daniel Bryan, countless seemingly unwarranted John Cena victories, and many more status quo-embracing transactions. Thus far, the New Era has been delivering on said demands; NXT grads and indie darlings are being showcased, veterans like Cena and Randy Orton have not been the primary focus, and WWE programming has been making the quality of matches a focal point of the shows over spectacle. All should be well with the fans, right?
Well, not to the ones present for SummerSlam at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center last night.
In order to crown a new WWE Universal Champion, the heavyweight champion of the Monday Night Raw brand, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins squared off in a slobberknocker. This match was very good, and featured two key figureheads of the New Era. It should have been a fan’s nocturnal emission, but instead served as a serving dish for the fans’ displeasure over the appearance of the new Universal Championship.
Although there have been plenty of creative lapses in the annals of WWE that deserved fan backlash, the smarky behavior of fans during the Rollins-Balor match is evidenced that WWE fans have forgotten their place. Chanting during a match about an ornamental object that really has little to do with the match itself is proof that fans are currently marinating in misplaced self-righteousness. The WWE may really never me able to make them happy.
More important than a title's appearance is what it represents for the men fighting over it. You really let me down tonight, Brooklyn.
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) August 22, 2016
This leaves the WWE with a paradox of sorts. Their current product is the hottest it has ever been since the Attitude Era, an era that relied more on risqué characters and storylines over in-ring action. Characters within the current WWE roster are, by in large, simply competitors trying to make it to the top. There is little need for phenoms shooting lightning bolts from the skies, towel-twirling ladies’ men wrestling in order to push their porn career, or backwoods country biscuits unloading slop buckets onto their opponents. The current roster is full of real, believable competitors, and they are regularly cutting entertaining promos and 4-star matches. The fans received exactly what they wanted.
AJ Styles is in the WWE, as in Kevin Steen (Owens), El Generico (Sani Zayn), Samoa Joe, Austin Aries and other celebrated independent wrestling icons. In addition, WWE has also created beloved homegrown additions to their programming in the women’s wrestling revolution, The New Day, Enzo and Cass, and the singles careers of the former members of The Shield. Your current world champions are Dean Ambrose and Finn Balor. If someone would have announced one year ago that this would be the current state of the WWE, most would have never believed it.
Despite this victory won by fans, they have lowered themselves to chanting about the appearance of a heavyweight championship belt in the same company that once had a belt that spins. Coming from a wrestling writer whose job is to criticize (and praise) the WWE, it is time for fans to simply say “thank you” and enjoy what the WWE is giving them. If the appearance of a belt is the least favorable aspect of current WWE programming, then the company is doing something incredibly right.
Being an informed wrestling fan of the current WWE product like being in the eye of an ironic storm. There was a time recently when fans had the right to boo during a disgraceful enactment of a match between Rosie O’ Donnell and Donald Trump performed by two randomly hired waffle house line cooks. Fans were not wrong when chanting “CM Punk” for months following WWE pissing him away, or lambasting Batista and Roman Reigns after winning the Royal Rumble when the clear choice should have been Daniel Bryan. When ECW became less extreme than an episode of “Full House,” fans and wrestlers alike had the right to be upset.
After everything WWE has done over the past couple years to remedy its previous creative sins, fans should be lining up in droves to join Vince’s “Kiss My Ass Club.” Unless a deserving New Era representative loses his belt to Big Show, or if John Cena has one more year-long title reign, fans no longer have the right to boo. None. One should not complain about a speck of dust on their diamond.
Seth Rollins and Finn Balor are in-ring generals who are going to be the faces of the WWE for years to come. They, along with their New Era brethren, have been the prophetical answers to the fans’ prayers. Does the belt bear little difference to the other belts within the company? No. However, it did not warrant the treatment administered by a spoiled Brooklyn crowd. After frequent servings of rump roast, they have been given filet mignon, but have chosen to complain about the garnish accompanying it. Rollins and Balor deserve better. The New Era deserves better. The WWE deserves better. It’s time to sit back, enjoy and let the professionals do their job.
Follow me on Twitter @JayBeeKoK and let me know what you think about this and other affairs within the WWE.