Of course it would be hypocritical if I didn’t state up front that this piece covers events that took place at Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing Live 2! Unbox Harder, as well as NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 and New Year’s Dash!! events.
And, yes I know spoilers are the least of our concerns at the moment in wrestling culture, but I started this piece before the week of hell, and I wasn’t going to let it drop by the wayside.
Recently, as I went away for a weekend to a friend’s wedding, I breathed a sigh of relief. In the car with two old friends I haven’t seen in months, I realized I’d have reason to stay off my damn smartphone, therefore I’d be less likely to be spoiled about Progress’ Unboxing Live 2! Unbox Harder show.
Why was this pay-per-view (PPV) so important? Because Progress announces none of its matches in advance, and always manages to work some major surprises into it.
But, still, during the start of the drive up, I performed the most important part of my anti-spoiler ritual: I set up a ton of mute filters. Specifically, I opened TweetBot on my iPhone and started with #Unboxing and #Chapter60 though I’d later learn #UnboxingLive was the show’s specific hashtag. But that’s not enough because tons of people never use hashtags.
Next, I muted every wrestler I follow who could be over in the UK, as well as any friends of mine who would be at the show. Then, I moved to the keyword filter, because TweetBot doesn’t stop at hashtags, so I could mute all uses of “Unboxing,” as well as the words “Champ,” “Championship,” and “Title,” to cover a title change, and then “Electric” and “Ballroom” to cover tweets referencing the venue, which typically involve a surprise appearance (remember that meme, “what’s so and so doing in the impact zone?”).
If that sounds tiring, you might be surprised to hear that it came naturally to me. Why? Because I learned how to do this through NXT. Many treat NXT taping spoilers as an inevitability, but something stubborn in me routinely works against it. Mutes include “Full,” “Sail,” “NXT,” and all things from @JJWilliamsWON, including his name without the @ symbol, to reject quote-tweets using his stuff.
Undisputed Era win the tag team titles after a lot of Cole distraction pic.twitter.com/Qc1pZaUaeD— JJ Williams (@JJWilliamsWON) November 30, 2017
So where’s the issue? It’s the fact that even after I do all that, the process still lets things through. First of all, my hypothesis was wrong, there was time to futz around on my phone, partially caused by that thing where you run out of catching-up-stuff-talk during the first night everyone’s there. And then everyone else grabs their phones eventually ... and yeah.
Then, I made a crucial mistake and didn’t delete Instagram from my phone. While I unfollowed the wrestlers I expected would attend Unboxing, I didn’t unfollow Jack Gallagher, who was the surprise opponent for Pete Dunne. Here’s where I got a little annoyed, as I was supposed to see them fight for the WWE UK Championship at Progress New York, but a freak accident, that I won’t blame on anyone, got in the way.
While I was in Instagram, I also got spoiled on Will Ospreay wrestling for the Progress Championship against Travis Banks, because I didn’t unfollow Ospreay, because the damn guy had a Wrestle Kingdom match booked 5 days later, and well, good on you, Progress, for surprising me. Fortunately, this didn’t sting, because I honestly am not the biggest fan of young William.
Days pass, though, and I could have sworn that I was in the clear. Since I didn’t want to stay up until 3AM to watch Wrestle Kingdom 12, I deleted Instagram and Twitter from my iPhone that morning, and reinstalled them when the event was over. Going forward, I think this is how I’m going to operate.
Wrestle Kingdom was great, I was in utter shock of the finish to Naito vs Okada (well who’s gonna beat the rain-maker-man now?) and then when I reinstalled, I put up some more filters based around New Japan’s New Year’s Dash January 5 special.
Unfortunately, this is when the big spoiler hit me before I could get home. Opening Twitter to check something for work, on my work computer where I have to use the terrible web version, I saw two giant pieces of news: Kenny Omega stopped Cody from attacking Kota Ibushi? Oh, and Chris Jericho never left and is tormenting Naito? In that moment, I was filled with two competing thoughts: “how did I let these spoilers through?” and “holy shit, I can’t wait to watch this show.”
So, with this anticipation, I watched Dash first when I got home from work, even though the Progress event Unboxing 2 also went up on their video-on-demand (VOD) while I was at work.
And so, when it came time for Okada and Naito to be on screen in their respective moments, I couldn’t help but watch the segments, waiting for the moments I knew were coming.
Those moments, are why I prefer to stay spoiler-free. To know what’s about to happen can make it harder to focus on what’s going on in the moment, because I’m just sitting there thinking into the future.
Then, I turned on Unboxing 2, and experienced the complete range of emotions. While I’d seen photos of the stuffed (or inflatable?) Lykos (a small wolf-boy, who kept getting injured in 2017) online, I didn’t know it was from this show. And to have that prop work in the most bonkers bit of business I’ve seen in a minute — the 5 on 5 “WE CANNOT CALL THIS SURVIVOR SERIES”-match — was just astounding. Goes to show, partial-spoilers can’t ruin a good time.
Then, everything was proceeding as advertised/expected, tons fun and delight in each match, but then my work was rewarded. Yep, that’s right, after Travis Banks dispatched Ospreay, and got on the microphone to say he’s open to all challenges, I heard the last song I had ever expected.
That’s right, the Grandtheft & Keys N Krates jam “Keep It 100,” the song that would play as Banks and his recently-injured tag partner TK Cooper entered Progress events, hit. And out came TK Cooper.
Cooper is not only one of my favorite wrestlers, but his ankle injury happened less than 10 feet from where I sat at Progress NYC, in a moment that put a pause on his upward trajectory and practically sent me into mental shock.
Since then, I’d been able to meet Cooper, and sort of get over the shock of witnessing such a gnarly injury, but have been one of his biggest boosters online. Buying each of his shirts, and tweeting links out for each one, I am more emotionally invested in him than practically any of the main roster folks at Progress.
So for him to provide the huge shocking surprise of Unboxing 2 practically separated my body and soul. I was rapidly DMing my friend who was there with a string of gibberish, and I was ecstatic when Cooper made it known that he expects to be cleared in the new year (which happened) and that he wants a title shot.
For all of my frustration for every spoiler I’ve seen, and how futile it can be to fight against the deluge of leaking details (if Meltzer’s sources are right, friends RT’ing stories into my timelines spoiled a major booking for WrestleMania), I’ve found that the system can sometimes work. Hell, even while I was writing this paragraph, I almost got spoiled about Impact (Mute @TheRogueFan to avoid those), and yes, I kinda care about Impact these days. They’re employing Ethan Page, who is amazing.
So, I get it if you don’t care about spoilers, but I write all of this out to explain that some of us do. And maybe, just maybe, you don’t need to retweet that taping detail, or championship switch.