How is it that we have more television time than ever in wrestling, yet the amount of people that are “over” is far less? It makes you scratch your head. Go back to the “Attitude Era” and everyone on the card seems very much “over” with the fans in one way or the other. Granted, the level of talent in the “Attitude Era” and the performers was likely better from top to bottom as a whole.
An easy and logical conclusion is an overworked creative staff. You have three hours of Raw, two hours of Smackdown and little shows as well as the WWE Network all in need of content. On a personal level, it can be a challenge to come up with writing articles like this on a daily basis that people will enjoy and read. It is hard to wrap your head around just how much work is involved in creating all the content that the WWE demands in its current form.
Many of the good things that have come along from wrestling in the past came from some of the talent themselves. There seemed to be far more people willing to take chances to get themselves “over” and develop ideas for their character themselves.
We hear it is more often the case that people walk around on eggshells afraid of losing their spot on the card or even losing their job as a whole. While it is easy to be critical of that back in the old days of wrestling, you had options of where to go. It is clearly a different world now where the amount of money you can make in the WWE is far more than what anyone can hope to make in TNA or Ring of Honor Wrestling. In the “Monday Night Wars” you had two companies paying top dollar for talent and competing head on with each other.
There is one thing that has been consistent through all of it: Vince McMahon. It is often talked about the just amazing and tireless work ethic he has. Is it realistic to think he can keep up at this pace at his current age? Also, is it realistic to think with the growth of the company he is able micromanage things as he has done in the past?
One of the things when you look back on “Monday Night Wars” one of the things that people point to in why WWE ultimately beat WCW was the corporate nature of Turner in comparison to WWE. Yet the WWE has become in a sense that corporate entity themselves since going public in the early 2000’s going on the stock exchange.
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Tie this back to WWE going to three hours. While it might not be the best thing for the in-ring product, it does potentially create more advertising revenue. The recent rise and fall of the WWE’s stock price was a bit of an example of how the WWE has changed. Vince McMahon being the promoter that he is promised that the WWE would double its revenue on its new TV deal.
We have been used to Vince saying outlandish things for years and sometimes he is right and sometimes he isn’t. In the end, we accept that he is very good at creating hype and buzz around himself and his company. It isn’t exactly the best idea for the CEO of a media company to be doing such things. People on Wall Street are very reactionary and want facts not hype.
Still, for as much as we want to talk about WWE changing and might not be the same, you only need to look at one thing to realize that might not have changed entirely.
The WWE Network is the biggest gamble that Vince McMahon has taken perhaps since the original Wrestlemania. It has been out there that WWE spent $75 million on the Network and $40 million on staff for a grand total of $115 million. Those numbers are not exacts but you get the point: it is a lot of cash. They also have basically changed their entire business by backing away from PPV in favor of the new network.
The risk is not as high as the much talked about idea of Vince mortgaging his house to put on the first Wrestlemania. The results of success for the Network will not be as immediate either in terms of it will take time. Another reason for the stock going south was the Network in the eyes of Wall Street under performing off the start.
In the end the risk is high but the reward can be much higher if this all works out. Vince’s history generally is he always does find success with the things he does directly tied to wrestling.
Perhaps, John Cena getting hurt on the weekend and Daniel Bryan being out is a red flashing light to WWE that they need to pay attention to their depth issues. WWE has shown the ability to get people over in NXT but that has not yet translated to the main roster. WWE at least gave us an unexpected moment and left us with a lot of questions as part of The Shield angle.
Not just society has a shrinking middle class, the WWE mid-card seems to be shrinking too. That is where we need to see more character development at this point.