October 28, 2006
Fans calling shots in WWE
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
WWE's Cyber Sunday concept would be tons of fun if real sports franchises were willing to give it a shot.
Calgary hockey fans could hop onto the Internet and vote the Flames right through to the Cup final.
An online ballot would determine the special guest referee for Mike Tyson's upcoming exhibition fights -- someone impartial like Evander Holyfield, maybe.
Voters could decide which excuse Terrell Owens uses to get out of exhibition games in 2007. Undetectable hamstring injury? The power would lie in the hands of the people.
Sadly, however, until the rest of the sports world catches up with the think tank extraordinaire at WWE headquarters, this kind of fan participation is something you'll only find in the wacky world of wrestling.
Cyber Sunday goes out on pay-per-view next weekend, live from Cincinnati, Ohio -- a 'Choose your Own Adventure' spectacular in which the fans have final say on the matches, the stipulations, and what degree of lingerie the WWE divas will wear (or not wear) when they wrestle.
Now, because we all know WWE is always on the up-and-up, let's tackle the big questions right off the bat.
No, the online voting isn't rigged. And yes, whatever the majority of the audience votes for -- even if it goes against the grain of current WWE storylines -- is what will take place at the show.
Of course, that's not to say WWE hasn't always done its best to sway the popular vote in a specific direction.
"Hey fans, you see this demeaning, smarmy bad guy? Well, would you like to see him participate in a verbal debate? Or would you like to see Steve Austin beat the crap out of him in a street fight?"
Three guesses what the audience chose in that 2005 scenario.
And this year, WWE is playing it even safer than ever before.
Secondly, the power of choice itself has been cut back. Gone are the days of choosing any wrestler from the roster to challenge for the title. Instead, WWE is offering a limited selection of options all playing into current plotlines.
Historically, though, when the audience throws a curveball in the voting process, WWE has shown respect for the fans' decision, even producing title changes which previously weren't on the books to go along with the new direction
This year, the main event is a triple-threat match with the champions of all three WWE-owned brands competing against each other.
WWE champ John Cena, world champ Booker T and ECW champ The Big Show will face off, with fans voting which man's title belt will actually be up for grabs.
Fans also get to choose which wrestling old-timer will team with Ric Flair for his match against the Spirit Squad -- will it be Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter or Rowdy Roddy Piper?
Viewers also get to vote on a guest referee for the DX vs. Edge & Randy Orton match, choose an opponent for Umanga, and elect a challenger for Jeff Hardy's Intercontinental title.