The Hijack Effect: Did WWE Actually Change Course?

As we all know, two weeks ago, the Chicago Raw crowd had every intention to “hijack” Raw.

By “hijack,” they meant to cheer only the wrestlers they felt that WWE has been dropping the ball with and to turn their backs on Batista, Orton, and The Authority as a message that we are all sick and tired of the creative direction of the company, mainly with Bryan being denied the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. At 8pm, we all eagerly watched to see what the crowd would do. By 11pm, it is fairly safe to say that the majority of fans felt let down by the crowd’s lack of follow through on the promise to hijack the show.
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This past Monday night, we see Daniel Bryan, with the support of a few lucky fans in the arena, finally get his wish to face Triple H at Wrestlemania XXX, with the added provision that he be added to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match if he should win his match versus “The Game.” All of this came to be because Bryan decided to “Occupy Raw” and “hijack” the show. (How’s that for some familiar buzzwords?)

Now we can go back and forth all day on the way that these events turned out. I’ve even pondered to myself if @ChicagoRawCrowd on Twitter was a brilliant viral marketing live event constructed by the WWE creative team as a means to rebuild the main event of Wrestlemania. More on that in a few. But before we go assuming things, let’s take a look at the date of Monday, March 3rd first.

The idea of a crowd revolting against the so-called machine is something that we’ve only dreamed of over the years. To see thousands of fans become so fed up with a product that they take such drastic measures definitely makes for compelling television. I think we’re all in agreement that the Daniel Bryan/main event program as been a road filled with mediocre booking to put it mildly. Personally speaking, it has been extremely frustrating to see a crowd so fully behind a talent to the extreme as the WWE Universe is with Bryan, only to have it be turned away time after time. I can only think how different of a landscape pro wrestling would be today had WWE pushed the Stone Cold character against the crowd’s wishes back in the Attitude Era. The Chicago crowd may not have been what it was hyped up to be, but do consider that WWE booked Raw to block any attempt by the crowd to hijack the show. The Authority only made one appearance the entire show, and that was an in-ring segment with Bryan. Like the crowd was going to turn their back on that. The Usos won the WWE Tag Team titles. Ziggler even won a match. Convinced yet?

Would any of these things have happened without the threat of an unruly crowd? That can be debated. But the fact remains that even though they didn’t change the face of WWE on March 3rd, they did set forth a series of events that indeed changed the plans. Or so it seems. Now, I mentioned above the possibility of WWE creative being behind the hijacking from the beginning. Think about it. WWE knew the crowd was turning on their main event for Mania. They knew that the crowd wouldn’t settle for Bryan to get Punk’s Wrestlemania program against Triple H alone. Something had to be done to change the plans. Chicago was the perfect place to set the changes in motion. They knew that no Punk meant that Chicago was going to be more volatile than usual. Why not take advantage of the situation? So many wrestling fans were aware of the crowd Twitter account, it was the perfect storm to create something real that would capture raw emotion with fans everywhere that had grown tired of the status quo. Not to mention that the events of this past Monday’s Raw are a direct reference to the movement. It definitely has the looks and feel of a social media worked shoot on the entire wrestling world.

But, this is just a theory. As much as I can make the case for creative being behind it all, I can also see WWE being forced to change their plans because of what Chicago started because, you see, Chicago just didn’t start a movement for that one night. They created a blueprint for all Raw crowds going forward. WWE couldn’t let the looming threat of a weekly hijacked show continue from March until Wrestlemania. They couldn’t take the chance of arenas full of fans turning their backs on The Authority (even though it would be great heat), or either one of their anointed “A+ Players.” A change had to be made to salvage the main event of Wrestlmania because no one, and I mean NO ONE wanted to see Batista vs. Orton. Add in the fact that fans are already salty over the whole Punk deal, to throw Bryan not being in the WWE title match at Mania (after not being in the Rumble match at all) would have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

Whether or not this was all a grand plan by WWE, or simply taking advantage of a fan started movement doesn’t really matter because in the end we’re all getting what we wanted. Bryan has his shot for a shot at the gold. I don’t think there’s a person in the wrestling world – fan, wrestler, or otherwise – that believes Bryan doesn’t defeat Triple H at Mania, and he doesn’t walk out as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. His Wrestlemania moment is here. And if creative plans an outcome to that match that doesn’t see Bryan walk out as champ, then we will all see the post-Mania Raw crowd fulfill Chicago’s destiny. A precedent has been set. And for WWE, outside of Bryan as champion, there is no escaping what I like to call the “Hijack Effect.”