There is no question that WWE has substantially dipped in overall interest from a wider audience over the past decade and a half. While the Monday Night Wars gave the pro wrestling audience some of the most riveting television of all time, the current WWE product highly lacks in compelling storylines. As a result, people continue to drop away, and the emphasis on providing a good product becomes less relevant.
When competition actually mattered in WWE, weekly booking was geared towards generating the biggest fan interest. This would cause the next week to have a strong follow-up, with people receiving the motive behind a heel turn. or someone defecting to the New World Order. When the Monday Night Wars ended, Ruthless Aggression became the forefront of WWE. This era furthered the popularity of stars such as Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, and Booker T, as well as established stars such as John Cena, Batista, and Randy Orton.
Unfortunately, as the years progressed, the emphasis was not as strong to produce a compelling product but to create matches that seemed to only interest the creative team that is putting them together. Although the quality of talents did not change, the mission to build a new batch of stars did not remain.
Now, WWE has admitted that the casual fan who would come to see the big attraction of a good guy vs. bad guy is nearly gone completely, and the remaining type of fans fall into the “hardcore” category. Per F4WOnline, Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios made this admission based on WWE’s new goal, stating, “It’s about super serving our most passionate fans, and one of the things we have learned is they will consume just about everything we throw at them.”
As stated, Barrios admitted that it does not really matter what WWE product is being delivered, because they will watch every week and every pay-per-view, no matter how bad it is. So, as a result, WWE is one big trial-and-error project.
F4WOnline confirms this dilemma, stating that WWE has not experienced these low numbers in over 20 years.
“It’s both good and bad. The nature of the business is that this will stay this way. It’s become too difficult and time consuming to the old casual fan, who would watch an hour of television every now and then, perhaps attend one or two big blow-off shows per year, to keep up, and perhaps too silly or unimportant to them as well. But for the people who love wrestling, the amount of product is endless, and it’s going to stay that way.”
Perhaps one of the most obvious areas that WWE is showing why there are no new stars includes the lack of confidence to draw new viewers but to keep the current ones satisfied, and the lost art of making someone a “larger-than-life” superstar. In fact, per Ryback, the goal is to have WWE superstars limit themselves to not overshadow the fame or character generated by the company (h/t 411Mania).
“Hunter [has] told me directly [that WWE does not want young talent to have economic freedom]. He goes, ‘we never want another marquee name here in the WWE.’ This was during my first contract negotiations. Yeah, legit told me, he goes, ‘we’re never going to have another John Cena.’ And if you look, that’s why they book guys the way they book them. They don’t want guys to have too much power anymore.”
While names such as Bill Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, and The Undertaker are all going to be involved in marquee matches at WresteleMania 33, this goes to show that although names such as Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns are all the future of WWE, apparently there is no one available who has the appeal of being a larger-than-life superstar.
[Featured Image by WWE]