July 13 was the mid-point of what will likely be the biggest 10 non-WrestleMania days on the WWE calendar. Not only did the Cruiserweight Classic begin on the WWE Network, but a bona fide NXT dream match, one of just a few left to happen in WWE, took place when Finn Balor took on Shinsuke Nakamura.
The hype for both should’ve been huge. To an extent, it was, but the nature of pre-taped events came to rear its ugly head once again. The Nakamura-Balor match, which was unabashedly great, was only really promoted on WWE TV proper this Monday on Raw. More importantly, however, everyone had already known the outcome of the biggest non-Takeover match on NXT since June 24.
The same could be said for the CWC. The tournament started filming just a day before the NXT tapings, June 23. Yet somehow, perhaps unconscious will or a mid-summer disengagement from #WrestlingTwitter, I went into last night’s CWC debut unspoiled.
The CWC matches weren’t as good as the NXT main event preceding it, but I had so much more fun watching a show I didn’t know the outcome of than I did watching two of the best wrestlers in the world get nearly 30 minutes to perform.
NXT’s Spoiler Problem
NXT has had this problem since it properly blew up with the debut of the WWE Network. Filming months of episodes at once leaves the quarterly builds, as opposed to WWE’s monthly builds, open to internet criticism and analysis before anyone other than those in attendance has a chance to see the matches. And no matter what, if there are two matches with equal workrate, but one is live and the other is pretaped the live match will be a better watch every time.
We already know what most of these guys are going to do. Especially in WWE or NXT, they have patterns, but the dynamism of live broadcast – you don’t know what might happen next – makes those patterns irrelevant.
“When something is pretaped and hyped, it inevitably lets me down because this almost always puts raised, and unusually unrealistic expectations in my head,” Voices of Wrestling co-owner Joe Lanza says of watching matches on tape delay. “Plus, I get full enjoyment when I can suspend disbelief. I like to lose myself in a match so knowing the outcome always hurts it for me.”
The suspension of disbelief is one of the most important aspects in watching wrestling. Again, we know the moves these guys normally do. The only question left is who’s going to win. Enjoying the show has taken a backseat to “being an insider” for NXT fans and it’s ruining the show.
“Don’t look at the spoilers” is the regular refrain from those who say they don’t mind. We’re wrestling fans on the internet in 2016; this is a society in which most people can’t try a new restaurant without finding the menu online first. “Don’t look at the spoilers” isn’t a reasonable expectation. It’s not like we’re all running to WrestlingInc to find the taping results that night (though apparently plenty of people are, good on you WrestlingInc). It’s the interaction with other fans; blogs, forums, Twitter, Wreddit. All it takes is one person to start the conversation on what happened at last week’s NXT taping and the blinders are off.
It’s innocent enough. This isn’t a “Snape killed Dumbledore” kind of mean-spirited interaction, but we’ve known for weeks that Nakamura would vanquish the demon, and the knowledge of the outcome dropped the importance of that NXT show, one which may well be the swan song for NXT’s greatest champion, well below the opening rounds of a tournament that’s going to last for months.
Something’s got to give.