SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Last summer the professional wrestling world was buzzing for the start of the first ever, WWE Cruiserweight Classic. I mean we couldn’t wait! From a wrestling media and fan standpoint, there were articles and columns written opining the possible resurgence of the division. Calls into live wrestling radio shows swearing Vince McMahon and company had seen the light and were going to make a serious attempt to make some real money pushing a cruiserweight division. Many didn’t even think that far ahead; they just wanted to see 32 of the world’s greatest wrestlers under 205 pounds have a summer’s long tournament that would be high-flying and action-packed.
That is what we got. For ten weeks in July, August, and September we witnessed nearly three dozen global cruiserweights battling it out on a platform that seemed grand enough to satiate a casual fan only used to the glitz and high production values of the main WWE product, but also intimate and scaled back enough so ardent fans and fans of the style, but not necessarily WWE, would feel welcomed with open arms. The balance the CWC struck with wrestling fans and wrestling critics was nearly perfect.
Beyond the execution of the actual tournament itself, WWE did a heck of a job promoting it. From the day it was announced, through every new signing for the tourney that was highly publicized, to the tremendous bracketology special they did in the week or so leading to round one. They did a great job of getting the word out and sustaining the excitement in the fan base throughout the spring and early summer so that by the time the CWC started, fans were peaking and ready for action.
This past winter WWE tried their hand again at a tournament. This time based around the emerging stars of the United Kingdom. The WWE U.K. Tournament was a live, two day tournament that was held in Blackpool, England. This tourney featured some of the very best pro wrestling stars that the U.K. had to offer. Not only did WWE do a very good job promoting the tournament, they put over Progress Wrestling as the premire wrestling company across the pond. Again we got video features of the standout performers and some in-depth personality profiles of whom to look out for and why. They were very clear that the U.K. scene is not to be trifled with and is to be taken very seriously.
What does not seem to be taken very seriously, though, is the upcoming women’s tournament dubbed “The Mae Young Classic.” It was announced, then seemingly forgotten about. They’d sign a few women and maybe you’d see it on social media somewhere, but that was if you looked hard and were paying attention in the first place. The most exciting news that came out before the taping happened was that Jim Ross was going to be calling the action. That is tremendous and all, but what about the women? I first noticed the difference in promotional tactics when the news came out about the taping schedule and how the shows would be released. Released is being too kind; dumped is more apropos. My understanding is/was that they taped the entire tournament sans finals back in July and will air round one at the end of August, nearly eight weeks after being taped. The middle two rounds will dumped first week in September. And the finals will air a week after that.
Having to tape the matches so far in advance is not a terribly egregious thing. I have no idea the logistics and schedules of the 32 women that are competing. It isn’t totally fair to rail on that aspect of things. In this particular case, it is up to us fans to keep away from match result spoilers. We seem to have done a good job of that. The problem is WWE’s lack of promotion for the damn thing.
I watch pretty much every minute of the seven hours of mainstream WWE TV (Raw, SD, NXT, 205) and it was not until this past Monday on Raw that I saw my first MYC commercial! Granted, I might have blinked a week before or the week before that if and when they showed the ad before I actually saw it this week. I was stunned nonetheless. It hit me that they actually waited until two weeks before the thing is set to air to start hyping it. I just don’t get it. Are the matches so bad that they are ashamed to hype it to the masses? Do they just want to get through this thing and move on? Whatever the excuse for the lack of promotional hype, I’d guess it’s a lame one.
All of this cannot be laid at the feet of WWE, though. I haven’t read any articles or columns from prominent wrestling journalists about the MYC. I have not heard callers calling into live shows expressing their excitement and anticipation for this tournament. Maybe it is me and what I choose to listen to and what not to listen to and read, but for some reason we staunch and ardent wrestling fanatics have chosen not to particularly care about something that logic says we should and would care about a lot. I just wonder why if not.
Just my take.
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Travis Bryant’s column are published usually exclusively on PWTorch’s VIP website and in the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter. You can listen to Travis talk pro wrestling and other topics every Wednesday night on the PWTorch East Coast Cast. Follow him on Twitter @travlord.