The Consortium is always interested in ARG-esque promotions for content, as regular readers of the blog and some of our other work know, and I am always keeping a close eye on the world of professional wrestling. That's why a recent WWE campaign caught my eye in particular. It has the fans talking and speculating about the potential impending return of one of the biggest wrestling stars of the last decade, "Y2J" Chris Jericho, or perhaps the impending return of "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels, who was injured earlier this year.
Jericho, who took a sabbatical from wrestling in 2005, has not returned to the ring since. But a short clip that aired during World Wrestling Entertainment, starting a couple of weeks ago, has gotten people talking about his potential return. The video, available here and in various versions, features streaming numbers and letters, Matrix-style, with the only major repeated text being flashes of a message: "Save_us.222."
There are several little notes in the text that flashes across that has caught fans' eyes, including a reference to the first track on volume four of a CD, with fans noting that the first track on the fourth volume of WWE: The Music was Chris Jericho's entrance theme. Otherwise, the text refers to various files pertaining to RAW and Smackdown video feeds.
There are thousands of comments on message boards, blogs, and the various YouTube videos of this promo debating what the significance of these things mean. One person believes that the 222 is a reference to an Old Testament biblical passage referencing the name "Jericho," from Joshua 2:2, verse 2.
When another promo ran, it featured the text "8.2.11/Savior_Self." This time, fans have decided that the videos are previewing the return of Michaels, since "Heartbreak Kid" is often abbreviated HBK, and the "8.2.11" would translate in letters to "HBK." Further, since Michaels is an avowed Christian, there is a belief that the vague religious references tie into that. There is also a brief reference to a text "GRAND_Slam.1/MOS," and Shawn Michaels is often referred to as the first major "Grand Slam" champion in WWE history, winning four of the company's major titles.
Some people have made YouTube videos trying to analyze the video, such as here, and videos slowing down and speeding up the sound from the promo, such as here, or playing the sound repeatedly, such as here.
The nature of Y2J's debut in the WWE, back in 1999, probably helped build some of this feeling in fans, since his debut was introduced long before he came to WWE from rival WCW with a countdown that would run during RAW, akin to the Y2K countdown, but leading to his debut as "Y2J." His debut can be found here.
I've often called wrestling the first continuous ARG, since wrestling fandom has been about the continual blurring of the lines between reality and fantasy. This video is a way WWE has found to tap into more popular forms of ARG-style behaviors to build into the fictional world, and if the response online is any indication, wrestling fans have responded with fervor.
Since the term "7OCT" appeared in the videos several times, one might assume that this will all culminate with the wrestling PPV which will be airing on Oct. 7, called No Mercy. Until then, let the speculation continue...