Who's Working Who? The Universe Gives Directions on the Road to WrestleMania | Smark Out Moment
On the February 28th edition of SmackDown, Batista cut a promo as a natural heel. Why did this happen? Was it the plan all along, or is it in response to the fans' reaction to The Animal that caused WWE to change its plans?

Dave Bautista as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy

How many people who do not follow pro wrasslin' understand just what an interactive form of theater it really is?

A traveling pro wrestling company puts on a different show in a different city typically over five nights per week. Each of those shows is episodic and character-driven, building upon ever-developing storylines that are altered in response to the audience's interaction.

Three-dozen elite, full-contact, improvisational acrobats—most of whom are portraying their own preposterous alter egos—are performing for raging arenas of 15,000 screaming, sign-waving theatergoers, plus millions more interacting 24/7 on every social media platform available to us here in the future.

WWE Fan Sign - The Wrong Kind of Heat

So, in the case of Batista, have we been played?

The response at the Royal Rumble sure felt as though the audience was taking control of the narrative and saying "NO! NO! NO! We reject WWE's tired formula." We put up with two 'Manias running from The Rock. Punk's 434-day title reign ended with an elbow drop preceded by a spastic ball dance. Damien Sandow's disdainful elbow looks more devastating. But we accepted that and took it in stride. Okay, maybe not everyone did: The Angry Fat Kid: Is HE Working Us, Too?

You milked two years out of The Rock and all of his Twitterisms. You milked every last drop of milk out of his upper lady parts. And now we are ready to be treated like adult theater critics who want to be surprised.

CM Punk lays out The Rock on WWE Monday Night Raw
The Rock, Gearing Up to be Electrifying for the WWE Universe

A lot of people assume that WWE just plugged in a lazy formula, were flummoxed by the response, and are now making it up as they go along. This is certainly possible. But they had to get so much wrong to arrive here.

They announced Batista's return on the final Raw of 2013. He didn't appear until January 20th. We were treated to constant hype in the interim, and what happened when he returned? Batista spent more time posing on all four turnbuckles than he did speaking/fighting, and when he did speak, it was flat and understated.

Why hype a return like that and then not deliver? No, all of the combined creative minds at WWE are not that stupid. The only logical conclusion is that they deliberately disappointed us. It was designed to turn us not only against Batista, but against "The Authority."

We, the audience, ARE Daniel Bryan. We're being treated offhandedly, like undersized blue-collar folk who will be screwed over and over and over again... but who will always come back for more. And "The Authority" does this while simultaneously launching their Network. Triple H himself stated that if the WWE Network existed when he was a kid, he would have never become a Superstar, because he would have never left his room.

WWE Daniel Bryan YES! NO!
We are all farm animals.

If they wanted us to like Batista, he would have been a surprise Royal Rumble entrant. Win it like that and the roof blows off the place. They know that. We've been worked, and it is fascinating to watch it play out.

Now, I acknowledge that I might be wrong. Maybe WWE is an over-managed financial juggernaut which sacrifices creativity for the bottom line. Could be. This, however, is my first contribution to the discussion, and I'm going to keep it positive...for now.

WWE Vince McMahon's Millions all about the money
My hands smell like money.

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