If you’ve seen WWE programming over the last week, you know WWE has truly gotten a bit real lately. While WWE has always tried to blur the lines of reality and fiction, but they’ve always tried to make sure fans understood what was going on normally. Most of the time, lines were only blurred when it came to the borderline real-life material such as the situation between Matt Hardy and Edge.
WWE Hall of Famer and former Women’s Champion and Lita, Matt’s girlfriend at the time, cheated on him with his friend Edge in real life while Hardy was out dealing with an injury. WWE put all three in a televised storyline due to how public things became, and it did quite well for ratings. It truly blurred a lot of lines that fans couldn’t tell which is which. In fact, some still don’t know what all was real and what was faked in the story.
The company knows they need to improve ratings today, and storylines like this are useful, but you cannot guarantee this will happen in real life. Fans surely are not going to believe it if WWE tries to put something on television as real when it’s not. Fans would just assume it to be another televised storyline. However, WWE wants to change that a bit more, and it looks like they’ve already begun.
According to Ringside News, WWE plans to do more realism storylines. This was done this past week at WWE SummerSlam in the Randy Orton/Brock Lesnar match as well as on WWE Network show Talking Smack when The Miz and Daniel Bryan had an amazing promo together. Both really blurred what was reality and what was fiction. While Orton was told what would happen ahead of time, he was not told how extensive things would get. Meanwhile, Miz and Bryan also had a similar thing, but both men simply worked almost improvisationally to make their promo.
Basically, this is almost like a call-back to the Attitude Era. WWE wanted to get everyone’s attention back then, which is why they did crazy storylines on television and would exploit everything they could in order to get fans to watch. Whether it was a crazy hardcore match or scantily-clad women, it was all done to make sure WWE could cater to people and get them to watch. While they did not do a lot of real life sort of stuff, WWE was very sure to stay up to date on things and cover very popular topics and add them to storylines like they do today.
Due to being PG at this point, WWE knows they cannot do the same sort of thing they did back in the Attitude Era. However, they can do things a bit differently with the same result being sought out. They want to make wrestling cool to watch again, as it took a real hit when WWE went full PG and started focusing more on kiddy material and not on stuff for the entire family and, specifically, the audience that was growing up during those times.
Now, the company has begun to make storylines fit the entire family without being too kid friendly or too adult, as the happy middle has been approached. With real life line blurs like what happened with Miz and Bryan as well as Orton and Lesnar, they’re not really having to leave PG at all. In fact, nothing that happened went beyond such a rating. The blood we saw was by no means planned to be done to that extent, but blood was still planned to happen.
The plan to go beyond the fourth wall is probably a good plan, as fans today are not dumb. In the 90’s and early 2000’s, WWE had the gift of the internet and technology not being as advanced as it is today. Nowadays, we have phones where we can take pictures or video involving WWE Superstars. We can get access to other material regarding them, and news and sports websites are covering the world of pro-wrestling more and more. Some people know what is going on even if they don’t watch because it’s all over the internet. The time is now to change how WWE does their material, and the company’s attempt to blur lines may very well be a good way to not only keep the audience you have now but also grow it.
[Image via WWE]