The past few weeks have seen various reports point to WWE’s ongoing problem of declining ratings, as viewership figures for both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live are hovering at historically low levels. This has reportedly led to changes such as the Wild Card Rule, which, as explained on the WWE website, allows a “limited” number of wrestlers from one brand to “cross brand lines for one-night-only appearances,” but imposes storyline penalties on those who make the jump without permission.
In a recent interview with Pro Wrestling 24/7, former WWE superstar Jack Swagger — who now uses his real name, Jake Hager, as part of Bellator MMA’s heavyweight division — opened up on several topics, including his recent stint with Lucha Underground and his current mixed martial arts career with Bellator. The interview was conducted a few days ahead of Hager’s most recent fight for the promotion, where he notched his second MMA win by defeating T.J. Jones via submission at Bellator 221 on Sunday, per Bleacher Report.
When asked about WWE’s current issues, Hager commented that the creative and ratings-related problems may be related to viewer saturation, as it’s hard to sustain interest by making five to six hours a week of programming “truly entertaining” to most people. As such, he opined that WWE would be better off changing its business model and shifting to a yearly schedule that has an eight-month regular season and a four-month offseason.
“I think they need to move into a season – start at SummerSlam, end at WrestleMania and then have that time off where you can refresh everything or restart everything,” Hager said, as quoted by WrestlingNews.co.
“I know Vince [McMahon] doesn’t like that because he wants to be working and making money, but it’s incredibly tough to put out compelling and entertaining content that you haven’t seen and honestly you’ve seen everything that they’re doing right now. So, it is what it is so maybe it will change or maybe they don’t care and they go their network and will just keep doing what they do.”
Under the ring name Jack Swagger, Hager competed for more than a decade in WWE, most notably winning the World Heavyweight Championship at one point. However, he was barely utilized by the company in the months leading up to his March 2017 release. Per Uproxx, Hager explained soon after that he wanted to explore other career opportunities, and that he and WWE failed to come to terms on his perceived “value” to the company.
Commenting on Hager’s suggestion to move to a seasonal format, WrestlingNews.co called it a “good idea in theory,” but added that making such a change would now be implausible, as both the USA Network and Fox have invested in a full year of new WWE content. These negotiations were made in the understanding that the company would proceed as it always has — taking no months-long breaks in between in order to refresh the product, and to get ready for a new batch of storylines.