(NOTE: this blog post DOES NOT contain spoilers, but may entice you to go looking for them elsewhere. Fight that urge. Please.)
I am not a fan of spoilers. This probably harkens back to Christmas ’96 or ’97, when my Mom figured out I was snooping for presents. She stopped hiding them that year and left them out in her bedroom. If I was so desperate to ruin the surprise, I would have nothing special to experience on the morning of December 25th. Needless to say, I stopped snooping. (Smart lady, that Mama of mine!) I suppose it was necessary for me to get a repeat lesson, which I learned last week. I read SmackDown spoilers on Tuesday evening, but tuned into the taped broadcast on Thursday just to see Mauro Ranallo’s debut. I immediately regretted the decision, even though I felt that Ranallo is such a good announcer that you forget already knowing the finish. I know I would have enjoyed the program more if I didn’t know what was going to happen.
But we live in the Internet age where things get ruined. Someone retweets something they think is fake, or they don’t fully realize what it is at the time and – whoops – spoiled. What do you do, stay off the internet? I suppose you could, but I, personally, enjoy writing this blog. I enjoy tweeting (usually in all caps) at my friends during wrestling programs. I like listening to people smarter than me discuss wrestling on podcasts. Also, I run an online literary magazine, so the bottom line is that internet and I are not breaking up any time soon.
When something from tonight’s SmackDown taping showed up on my Twitter feed (and quickly disappeared again – a telltale sign of a spoiler) my first response was to get angry. Then I checked myself. “J,” I thought, “are you angry that it got spoiled or are you angry because it’s not what you want to have happen in the storyline?” The person who tweeted the spoiler wasn’t trying to be a jerk (I don’t think) so I can’t really be mad about that. And while what actually happened isn’t my cup of tea, not everything that happens on WWE TV will be, so I can’t get mad about that either. Maybe I’m mad that WWE hasn’t figured out a way to do nothing but live programming in 2016 so we don’t have to deal with spoilers at all. If you don’t watch it live, it will be spoiled – them’s the rules. Except for the fact that live television is both incredibly difficult and insanely expensive to produce. I can’t blame WWE for wanting to send their B-show to tape.
This begs me to repeat – why am I angry?
It turns out, as a matter of fact, that I’m not. What I’m feeling is not anger at all, it’s that other thing, the thing that is so often confused for anger. It’s fear. I’m afraid. When I returned to my wrestling fandom in 2013, it sort of saved me. It became my safe haven. On Monday nights, for three hours, I was not to be disturbed. I could yell and scream or cheer however I wanted to. Nobody was expecting anything from me. When you’re a caregiver, having a moment to remember who you are in any other definition besides that word is incredible. I was living vicariously through characters who fought their way out of bad situations to achieve something. I watched CM Punk give Paul Heyman a beating. I watch Daniel Bryan become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. It was all very gratifying.
Now I am not a caregiver anymore. I am beholden to no one but myself. My life isn’t perfect – no one’s is – but I am no longer desperate for an outlet. Instead, I find myself trying to approach WWE and wrestling in general from other perspectives. I’m not just a fan, but a writer, and someone who studied theater in school. These are just different lenses to view the product through, and none of them seem to be helping. I don’t want to become one of those people who walks away from the product, either. I know there will be tiny perfect moments scattered among all of the bad writing and worse booking. There will be stellar Paul Heyman promos. I would miss the beginning of Ranallo’s announcing career. Some of my NXT favorites may even find themselves on the main roster soon. But at a time when I am usually the most invested (pre-Royal Rumble) I am actually the least invested I have been since I moved away from New York. And I’m afraid of what that means.
So here is your spoiler alert: I don’t know what happens next. I don’t know if there will be a blog post here tomorrow. I don’t know if I’m going to continue to try to schedule my life around watching RAW on Mondays or making sure I don’t miss Pay-Per-Views. I like to think it won’t change. But that’s life. You never know what’s going to happen. Until you do.