Watching WWE’s Royal Rumble this year (the actual match itself, and not the program in full) has now made me start to think about their product recently. They had a champion that nobody liked – Roman Reigns – who had been booed by fans because of his “never say die” attitude.
Case in point (and spoilers for those of you who haven’t watched, even at the time of this publishing): Reigns was punished by McMahon and the “League of Nations”. He took a major beating and had to be helped to the back. As Sheamus was entering the match, Reigns came from out of nowhere and attacked him. He ultimately gets eliminated, and Vince gets the last laugh as Triple H wins the title at the close of the show. Triple H hasn’t been seen on free television in at least a month, but with the McMahon/Reigns storyline, do you expect someone different to win the title? Not on your life.
So why am I bringing up wrestling in a hockey blog? The Royal Rumble this year is strangely similar to what NBC’s ideas are. They consistently shove players and teams down your throat and expect you to like what you’re seeing.
Not a huge fan of the Sidney Crosby/Alex Ovechkin feud after all these years? Too bad, because you would’ve gotten the next chapter of their “rivalry” if DC wasn’t still snowed in. I’m personally sick of something that only the media would over-hype. (Crosby comes back from a concussion, and it’s a bigger story than a Boston/Montreal game. If my memory serves me right, didn’t NBCSN actually air a Crosby game in Boston’s spot once? Yeah, surprise!)
Taylor Hall versus Tyler Seguin was also supposed to be hyped – and that didn’t happen. Boston (now Dallas) and Edmonton never had that nice ring to it. Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel aren’t getting attention either, also due to their cities seeing each other no more than twice. So let’s just ignore them, shall we? Besides, they’re not players who NBC’s executives want you to see.
They want you to see as much of Crosby and Ovechkin as possible. And when you think about it, it’s not just the players who get too much attention – it’s also the teams. Wednesday Night Rivalry is so chock full of the same teams these days, that it’s no longer entertaining. Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington… Need I say anything else? You barely have a Western Conference team there, unless the network decided to throw them in as part of a doubleheader. That’s been a bit more frequent, but not good enough for me.
I know those are NBC’s cash cows, but give me a break. There are other rivalries out there that should get attention. Montreal got one or two appearances on American television twice last season, I believe, mainly due to Boston getting the time with them. Toronto being the visitors to the ’14 Winter Classic got them some love as well. But if you pay attention to the commercials for – throwing something out there for evidence – Winter Classics in the past, will you get the picture as well?
2009 – Pittsburgh @ Buffalo – not sure what the ads were.
2010 – Philadelphia @ Boston – players walking towards a pond, bringing back childhood memories.
2011 – Detroit @ Chicago – clips of both teams to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.
2012 – Washington @ Pittsburgh – Crosby versus Ovechkin. Need I say more?
I might be in the minority, but I absolutely hated the concept of ’12’s ad for the game. If they had given some other players some love, it wouldn’t have been such a huge problem on my end. Might not be your opinion.
So NBC, do me a favor – stop getting pushed around. There are other teams in the league that never get attention, regardless of how good they’re doing… And that’s only because the league’s laughing their way to the bank with their media-obsessed rivalries.