Fundamental Belief#2: Whatever Works
I am a big believer in if something is effective in terms of getting crowd reaction, drawing ratings or drawing money-then it’s good. As I have said in previous posts, I don’t have that much in the way of personal preferences except that I like things that work. In other words, while it may seem that my perspective is too objective for someone who is not a paid wrestling analyst nor someone who has a financial interest in any wrestling company, it is just as subjective as the point of view of someone who “doesn’t care about business.”
With the above in mind, the goal of a company should not be to please “FAN X”, it should be to please as many fans as possible. I see way too much analysis (or that passes for analysis) that suggest that a company “should” do something because it would please that fan. A fan could like whatever he or she chooses to like whether or not it is good for the company’s business, because a company’s business is not a fan’s business (unless the fan has stock in WWE). At the same time, being critical of something that is effective because you “don’t like it” is a flawed opinion and is certainly not credible analysis. With that said-if a fan or fans like something that is not working or doesn’t seem to be working-that fan is (obviously) under no obligation to like it less because it isn’t making a great deal of money. People should enjoy whatever they like…but they should not be overly critical if a direction that is not working changes.
Examples to the point that I am making include the Attitude Era, Goldberg, this year’s Wrestlemania, John Cena, WCW in 1992, the Young Bucks and even NXT to a degree (one of those things is not like the other).
It’s interesting that people bemoan how much the Attitude Era has been romanticized because from what I see people are very critical of the Attitude Era because the wrestling was not as good as other eras, it was too raunchy, babyfaces were too “edgy” and the storylines were too “wacky”. The problem with that analysis is that it worked. Is wrestling suffering now because people in charge use that as a reference for how the shows are today? I believe so…but I also think that it is the promoters’ fault and the wrestlers’ fault (to some degree) for not figuring out what people want now that is different than what people wanted in the Attitude Era. In other words, the Attitude Era was great for its time because it drew big audiences. The problem with wrestling is what I just wrote, which is that promotions are not doing a good enough job to find out what this audience wants. As an aside, I think it is a matter of tapping into society like WWE did in its 1980’s and late 1990’s (along with 2000 and early 2001), but don’t ask me about today’s society-I spent Friday night watching Law and Order reruns.
On the other hand, I see a great deal of praise for WCW 1992 which was not as successful, but it had and still has critical appeal. The people who praise WCW in 1992 are not wrong, because no one is wrong to enjoy whatever it is that they enjoy. My argument is much less about not praising things that do not have commercial appeal and more about giving credit to things that do have commercial appeal. My favorite era of wrestling was WWE 1997 because of the Hart Foundation storyline. WWE lost in the ratings every week in 1997-including the heart (no pun intended) of a storyline which prominently featured by favorite wrestler of all time (Bret Hart) in a story that entertained me greatly. I don’t like it less because it did not do the numbers that the Attitude Era did. I still watch the Hart Foundation segments from those Raws regularly (on the WWE Network), but I’m not talking about enjoyment…I’m talking about what a company should do based on what they are striving for and companies are (or should be) striving for fan engagement at a very high level.