Category Archives: Wrestling

The Shield

I am fine with the Shield getting back together. In fact, I have actively called for it for over a year now. I do not have a strong opinion on how long they should be together, except I think that it should be for a while. Put it this way, if they go through with Reigns-Lesnar for Wrestlemania..I still think that Reigns should be aligned with the Shield when that match happens. There are those who feel that WWE is going back to the Shield because they are desperate for Roman Reigns to be cheered. There are those that feel that WWE is  going back to the Shield because they need something for the Fall with Cena gone and Lesnar of course still only working limited dates. Both of those things may be true, but it is still a good idea to put them back together for several reasons.

  1. They are better together than apart: I can certainly imagine (of course I don’t know) that Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns want to be more than the “Shield guys.” Perhaps internally, they wish they could do something that has nothing to do with the other members so that they could be seen for who they are as individuals. There is nothing wrong with having that thought, but they are better together. Part of that is because WWE has made creative and booking mistakes with all three of them as individuals. At the same time, just from watching the television…those three should be connected and they are better together than apart.
  2. They broke up too soon: The Shield had been popular for most of its run, even when they were heels. With that in mind, their babyface run was technically only three months and they were together for a year and a half. As readers of this blog know, I am all about what makes the most money. The Shield in theory should sell a great deal of merchandise. Hopefully they will help the ratings (either by increasing them or keeping them steady with tough competition during the Fall), attendance and Network subscriptions. They could probably do everything (maybe even the merchandise included) as heels, but they should certainly help things as babyfaces (especially merchandise). WWE needs to take advantage of the fact that people like seeing these three together.
  3. WWE needs something. As noted earlier, Lesnar is of course part-time and Cena may not be back for a long while. The Shield is the one thing that WWE has that can get people interested until the Royal Rumble season. One thing though, everyone involved have to work to keep the momentum going. The reason I say that is because I think the Shield can be a difference maker business wise, but only if creative is behind it and they figure out how to leverage people’s excitement to create a buzz beyond the first week or so. With that said, I also think that it is a good thing even if it does not increase business because I believe the people that are watching will enjoy the show more with those three together than they would apart.
  4. If: If WWE does decide to turn Reigns heel (which I should say I do not feel strongly about, but before the Shield reunion it would have gotten my vote), then he has backup and when the time comes opponents. Actually I can think of more compelling three man teams on the babyface side than on the heel side, but obviously the Shield should not be heels now…if ever.
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Merchandise and the Calculated Risk

Is merchandise the best way to tell who is a draw in wrestling now? One thing that I will say is that I do believe it gets underrated by people who think Wrestler X should turn heel just because they are stale in those people’s opinions or  because “Wrestler X would make a great heel.”

The television rights fees are fixed and while WWE wants to stay the same or get higher ratings because they are going into negotiations for a new television deal, turning someone heel who is making money through merchandise is risky because the money is already there (for the television deal). The company has to replace that money somehow. I do not believe in turning someone because they will probably get booed….that means nothing in comparison to actually drawing money.

Yes, turning a person heel can potentially draw higher ratings which can be then leveraged for a comparable or maybe even a better television deal in the next negotiations. Yes, turning a person heel can help with network subscriptions. Yes, turning a person heel can help boost attendance. Yes, turning a person heel can lead to a program with a babyface who may do even better merchandise numbers. The key word is “can.” When someone is doing well in merchandise sales (someone like Enzo Amore or  New Day), then it is a calculated risk to turn them. The reason why Amore and the New Day stand out for the merchandise sales is because they are better than average. I don’t know if they are better than average for anyone on the card or for their spot on the card, but people would not be talking about anyone’s merchandise sales unless they were strong.  If they are strong, then it is making the company money and I would have a hard time messing with that.  If a company does make a change, they better be right.

A few things here. First of all, ideally the goal would be to catch something before it gets stale. At the same time, stale is a subjective and intangible measurement. When there is television every week, people are more likely to say something is stale…that does not mean the masses feel the same way. Even if many people feel an act is stale, that still may not be a good enough reason to take an entity that is making X amount of money on merchandise sales and making that X/2 or X/3 or X/10 by turning that entity heel.

Secondly, yes heels sell merchandise, but it seems to me that most of the heels that sell strong merchandise do so because they started as heels…not people who turn heel…at least in WWE.  I have no problem with “cool heels”, they could probably make more money in today’s climate than traditional heels. At the same time WWE markets to children and they script the wrestlers to say things that will make people think twice about buying their merchandise. Actually I want to stop there because that is a different discussion entirely.

Thirdly, I am not saying never turn anyone heel and I am not saying that anyone who has strong merchandise sales should not turn heel. I am saying if it is better than average for their spot on the card…there really should be a plan to make that money back before turning the person heel. The plan could be having a really strong storyline that would get people willing to go to the arenas or buy the Network. The plan could be to have someone else on the roster (whether they are going directly against the new heel or not) doing strong merchandise sales because they are going to get a bigger push. The specifics of the plan are less important than the idea of the plan drawing money to replace the money you are losing.

I am against turning someone because of potential crowd reaction (the heel may get booed) because crowd reaction is secondary to making money and going back to the beginning of this post…we may have reached the point where the only way that wrestlers in WWE can make a difference is buy selling a t-shirt.

One last thing…I have no problem wearing wrestling shirts in public. At the same time, it is a hangup for people who are big wrestling fans so it is better if wrestling shirts do not look like wrestling shirts…that is hardly profound, but I thought I would bring it up.

Babyfaces do not have to be good guys

When I say what is in the title, I do not mean universally. In fact, my point is not that babyfaces should not be good guys or heroes. It’s fine if they are. I just do not think they have to be good guys. I would say the idea should be to present babyfaces as good guys most of the time.

For instance, if I was starting a promotion from scratch, I do not think I would have anti-heroes. At the same time, if a heel got cheered to the point where I would have to turn him, I would keep the aspects of the heel that got cheered…even if those qualities are not heroic. As I have said before, I am much more reactive to crowd responses than proactive. When I say that, I mean that I do not look at something that is over and find reasons it should not be. Because of that I am much more willing to accept the fact that audiences just connect with some performers/acts no matter what they do. Besides, I do think there is a negative to being overly good, especially if it leads to preachy promos.

Keller and Meltzer

I have been a member of the Wrestling Observer and Pro Wrestling Torch websites/newsletters for years (at least eight years for each one). I don’t know if familiarity breeds contempt or I just notice things as I get older. There are some annoying things (to me) that both of them do, they are obviously not deal breakers…but I wish they would not do them. I already discussed one of them with Meltzer, but I will mention it again here. First I will start with Keller.

My biggest problem with Wade Keller is that he criticizes like he has never made a mistake. He is pretentious, a bit arrogant and the biggest nit-picker ever when it comes to wrestling. If he says” amateur hour” one more time about WWE production, I may actually cancel my subscription. Seriously, shut up. It’s not about you and your obsessive hang-ups.

The thing is when it comes to what he actually says…for the most part I agree with him. There should be a reason for cameras in backstage skits. There should be attention to detail in other aspects of the shows (not just production). At the same time, being so heavy-handed is a turn-off. Moreover, if I corrected all of the mistakes that he made…he would probably block my membership (and he is always plugging his membership), because he does not seem to like criticism too much, but he is always willing to dish it out. I think his flaws (not being a historian, being too WWE-centric, having a bad memory) are way more important (to me) than WWE production issues that do not really affect the quality of the show.  The worst part is his constant complaining about trivial (in the context of wrestling) matters actually makes WWE sympathetic…they are doing the wrong thing, but I can name several aspects of the Torch and Keller himself that are unprofessional.

As an aside, One thing that I will admit is I am not a fan of rants about wrestling. There are people who are entertained when a podcaster and/or YouTube host just goes off on a rant about something in wrestling…they do nothing for me. I just wanted to mention that so you understand my perspective.

Also if Keller was as funny as he thinks he is, he should quit the Torch and become a standup comic. I do not like how he curtails and hijacks discussions for lame jokes that aren’t worth stopping the flow of conversation.

As far as Meltzer goes, as noted in one of my last posts…I do not like how he casually gives away spoilers. The Zack Sabre Jr-Tanahashi match from G1 is a prime example, especially because he just blurted out the finish as it was happening and most people who were going to watch the show on New Japan World (or through other means) were not up at that hour watching it live. My point is at least give people time to watch the show if you are going to give away spoilers. I think 24 hours after a show airs is appropriate. When it comes to taped shows, just give a warning. The people who do not care about spoilers won’t mind the two seconds that it takes to give a spoiler warning and the people who do care know to turn out.

Meltzer also probably should not use his own star ratings as a way to make an argument that he feels is objective.

I have mixed feelings about Meltzer’s tangents. The positive is that he has so much information that it is cool for him to take something like (for example) a segment on Raw and use that to begin another conversation. At the same time, he struggles with talking at times so it could just make the discussion longer than it needs to be.

I wonder…

what the Intercontinental title match at Wrestle Kingdom is going to be. I will assume that Tanahashi is still the IC champion.

I thought about Tanahashi versus Minoru Suzuki. There are a few problems with that match. Number one, it is unlikely to be the classic match people expect from Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom. Also if that is the Intercontinental title match, then Suzuki would be coming off losing the Never Openweight Championship…meaning he would not be coming in as strong as one would like going into the second biggest match on the biggest card of the year. I like the match. It’s fresh and I am a fan of Suzuki, but there are issues to work out.

Michael Elgin? It would certainly be a fun match. I am unsure of Elgin’s contract status and it would not be ideal to have such a big match with an obvious conclusion. As an aside, I only believe in obvious conclusions to matches when the setup is a popular face is going to beat a hated heel (and even then unpredictability is not necessarily bad). Elgin versus Tanahashi would be a match that is most likely built on near falls and it certainly does not look like it would be a morality play so I would want Elgin signed long-term so I could buy into those near falls.

Juice Robinson? I would be interested in that. It would be fun. I could see Tanahashi playing subtle heel to get Robinson over.

Kenny Omega? I don’t see it with Omega being U.S champion right now.

Ibushi? I think this happens in November and my guess is its just Tanahashi getting his win back from the G-1

Evil? It would be a rematch of the New Japan Cup in April….I like the idea.

Sanada? See above except it’s not a rematch of the New Japan Cup. That would be fun. It is time for NJPW to get more people into that top mix at a show like WrestleKingdom. The problem is second biggest match and I’m not sure that they can get Sanada there before January.

 

 

Is WWE trying to make every dime?

I was thinking for the last few weeks about whether or not WWE is trying to make every dime possible or would they rather make less money because it is more important for them to be WWE (if that makes sense). There are things that WWE does that I believe costs the company money, but that is not really my question. The question is are they willingly doing things (or not doing things) that will cost them money because as I said, it is more important for them to do things their way than it is to make every dime? I can’t really think of anything obvious-but I have some ideas. I’ll give three for now and I may come back to this if I think of more.

  1. Turning Roman Reigns Heel: I am not sure that they think this will make the company money. At the same time, I absolutely will buy into an argument that they would rather make less money to have Reigns as the face of the company than make more money with someone who does not have the Reigns look. With that said, I cannot say for sure that WWE believes that a Reigns heel turn will move the needle and honestly I’m not sure either. I think there is a good chance that Reigns will get booed (which is ideal for a heel), but I am not sure it will increase any metrics.
  2. Bringing C.M Punk Back: This is a non-starter because of the lawsuit with the WWE doctor and because Punk does not want to come back. It will probably be years (if ever) before we can say that WWE is costing itself money because they refuse to bring back Punk because it is not an option right now.
  3. Even-Steven Booking: This is the one I am most interested in. One could make the argument that WWE will be better off if they protected more than 1-2 percent of the roster. WWE may think that by having wrestlers trade wins back and forth they are actually protecting the midcard and they may think that it is a necessary consequence of all the television they produce (including PPV’s/Network specials. More to the heart of the question, WWE may think that having too many wrestlers booked strongly gives them (the wrestlers) leverage that WWE feels that they cannot afford. The answer to that dilemma is just to keep 90-95 percent booked equally-even if it means a money drawing star does not break out.