When Beth Phoenix was ruled out of Extreme Rules to be replaced by a mystery opponent, rumors started swirling as to who her replacement would be. Well, they didn’t really swirl, unless the eye of that cyclone centered around one Kharma. Everyone expected it to be the artist formerly known as Amazing Kong. She even went so far as to tweet about destroying a Bella Twin before the match happened.
So, when Layla stepped through the curtain as the mystery opponent, the reaction to it shouldn’t have been a surprise. People seemed to be pissed off that it wasn’t Kharma. It would be one thing if this was a long term promise for her to make her grand return from an unfortunately failed pregnancy (seriously, no one should ever have to go through that and as a new father writing for another new father, I can’t stop wishing my condolences). However, it was a last minute thing. Had Phoenix not turned her ankle on RAW Monday, there was probably a chance that she’d have been the one in the match as Champion, let alone actually being in the match at all.
But no, people talked themselves into believing that it was certainly going to be Kharma, and they got pissed off. The same thing happened last year in the run up to WrestleMania, when fans thought that vignettes were advertising Sting to come back when they were really heralding the Undertaker. WWE made no inkling of signing Sting, but fans reading things into the production pieces convinced themselves that it not only was Sting, but that if it wasn’t Sting, it’d have been a failure.
As much as I rag on WWE for things, and as much as they SHOULD be ragged on for the stuff they pull sometimes, the previous two situations are ones that are on fans for their angst towards the company. I understand that we fans want certain things to happen. We have active imaginations and think critically and creatively about what happens. That’s not a bad thing. However, when those thoughts turn into dogmatic screeds about what the company should do with no alternative, then really it’s no one’s fault but that fan’s own for the disappointment.
Being a fan sometimes means having an open mind. It would be one thing if WWE kept baiting and switching on Kharma’s return. It’s another when everything was clearly open-ended. Obviously, her tweet signifying her return might count as a bait and switch, but then again, how do we know that wasn’t her going rogue? Nothing on the PPV telecast suggested that WWE was going to be unleashing Kharma on the world. Why should anyone hold it against WWE when she wasn’t the one coming out from behind the curtain?
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.