After a group of zombies invaded a WWE event, some fans complained that the match stretched the boundaries of realism in a way that the sport has been careful to avoid in the past.
“Narratives have to be consistent, if only for the audience’s mental well-being,” wrestling commentator Marcus Benjamin wrote in a lengthy column. “Beyond rules for characters, the world those characters live in needs to have parameters as well.”
The event to which Mr Benjamin objected was WrestleMania Backlash, a pay-per-view World Wrestling Entertainment championship that included a match between the muscle-bound fighters Damian Priest and The Miz.
In the middle of their brawl, about a dozen zombies emerged from some spooky steam and dragged the wrestlers out of the ring, forcing them to fend off the undead instead of each other. WWE sportscasters narrated the confusing turn of events.
“And here’s the key, Corey, you’ve gotta focus on winning the match, rather than focus on all these distractions,” one deadpanned.
“How do you not focus on zombies, Bert?” his partner countered.
The Miz was eventually eaten by the undead assailants.
Professional wrestling is notoriously staged, but some WWE fans said the zombie apocalypse plot point strained credulity.
“When WWE deals with weird story beats or characters, they shouldn’t feel incongruent,” Mr Benjamin continued. “Even if it’s to promote a movie, which WWE knows how to do, everything needs to feel like it’s a part of the same show.”
The event led to some heated disagreements on Twitter, where some fans argued that the WWE has always included “supernatural stuff” – including an undead wrestler named The Undertaker.
“Undertaker was a literal zombie who was buried alive and even buried someone alive, but now you’re mad about zombies? Makes no sense,” one fan tweeted.
“You should look up what a zombie is,” another shot back. “Zombies have no higher intelligence and feed on human flesh. They’re also decomposed. Taker wasn’t any of these things and at no time did he ever get killed.”
“His nickname is The Deadman,” another fan snapped. “His whole shtick was being a zombie. Plus, he had powers and rose from the dead.”
Whether or not they were popular, the zombies appear to have sparked a lively debate that shows no sign of stopping.
“‘We like zombies grounded in realism!!!’ Lol that’s the argument,” another fan tweeted.