Since this tournament has emerged for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, there’s been a lot of discussion about predictability. Some fans like knowing what will happen, while others are hoping for a surprise. Oddly enough, if there is a swerve, some can say it was predictable, because they saw that swerve coming. For as long as I can remember predictability has been a huge factor when it comes to enjoying professional wrestling. It’s not always a bad thing, and at the same time, it’s not always a good thing.
Predictability and unpredictability as a good thing
Let me start off by stating that there’s nothing wrong with predictability, as long as the story being told is enjoyable. We’ve seen it happen all the time, and to this day, certain predictable stories still deliver. Predictability as a positive is pretty easy to understand, promoters just have to give the fans what they want. The most recent case of this was Daniel Bryan’s journey into Wrestlemania 30. You’d have to be clueless to think Batista, Orton, or Hunter were going to stop him in that story line. When he finally got to hold that championship, it felt right, and we knew it was going to happen. This can be said for almost any fictional story, where the viewer just wants to see the beloved protagonist win. Obviously Batman was going to beat Bane, Shrek was going to live happily ever after, and so forth. We as fans choose to accept this, because we can’t wait to see our desirable outcome play out.
Unpredictability is probably trickier than predictability. This is the part of pro wrestling in which the promoter has to hope the fans enjoy the surprise. The WWE got this right perfectly when they had Seth Rollins cash in the MITB briefcase at Wrestlemania. So why is it better at certain times? An unpredictable swerve works when it pushes the story into a fresh direction. This is the key ingrediant because an unpredictable event can’t just occur without any consequences. I’m convinced this is why we don’t get swerved very often, because in terms of storyline, it needs to make sense. While many fans believe Roman will win this Sunday, there is a decent amount of unpredictability that could give us a fresh swerve. It’s obvious that someone is turning heel, but who? That turn alone will be something different that is needed on weekly television.
Predictability and unpredictability as a bad thing
So when is predictability bad? When the end result can be easily forecasted from the beginning without the blessing of the fans. Along with this, it becomes worse when writers put in no effort to sell the story. As much as I love Roman Reigns, his road to the Royal Rumble was underwhelming to say the least, and nobody bought into it. Maybe it was because he lacked any true story before winning that match. I personally enjoyed Roman much more when he got involved with Bryan, because it was given direction. I knew he would defeat Daniel at Fastlane, but I didn’t care, because the story was fun. Once he started feuding with Lesnar, it was as if he lost direction. The same can be said for many of Cena’s feuds in the past, as they were just predictable and failed to deliver context.
Like I mentioned above, unpredictability is a tough tool to use when it comes to pro wrestling. In fact, it’s a bad thing when it’s done for the sake of swerving fans. Looking back within the year, Sheamus winning the briefcase was a poor example of the writers swerving fans just to throw them off. It’s fairly obvious that the bookers wanted to surprise the fans, because as of now they still don’t know what to do with Sheamus. Another great example of this would be Alberto Del Rio winning the title this Sunday, and still preaching the ways of Meximerica while feuding with a babyface Roman or Dean. At that exact moment, I’m sure fans would be shocked to see the title on someone other than Reigns or Ambrose, but it wouldn’t exactly be the best surprise come Monday night.
There you have it folks, sometimes knowing the outcome isn’t the worst thing, while sometimes not knowing can be. In the end, the world of fiction needs a decent balance of both in order to be entertaining. I believe the professional wrestling across the world has proven to fans that too much of one can be detrimental to the product.