Tag Archives: WWE

Pro Wrestling is My Best Friend (Example 2)

This example is a more broad example than the one I gave in my last post. From the moment I started watching wrestling 31 years ago (I’m 36 now), I have not once considered not watching or taking a break. There were times where our household did not have cable so it was more difficult to watch, but I always kept up with what was going on. Furthermore, any time I had the means to watch wrestling, I always did and I always will.

Even now, I am several episodes behind on ROH. I am months behind on Impact/GFW/TNA/insert name here, there is no way I am going to watch all of World Tag League (I basically skipped to the finals) and I am a couple of episodes behind on NXT. I actually…well I kind of feel guilty. It’s similar to how I feel when I don’t answer a text from a friend or a client. I feel like I am ignoring a friend. As loyal as I am to the friends I have in real life, I feel that same loyalty (actually more) to wrestling.

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Pro Wrestling is My Best Friend (Example 1)

I moved to Lynchburg from New York this Spring for financial reasons. I moved in with my cousin. A week into the move, I realized that it was not going to work out. I ended up getting a $200 advance from a client and ordered two bus tickets (one from Lynchburg to Richmond and one from Richmond to New York). When I got to Richmond, there was a 30 minute wait for the bus to New York. I was not sure what to do with all of that time, especially since I could not go far. I decided to listen to music. I ended up listening to the same song for 30 minutes and the song was…

I’m Not Giving Up

When I say I am not giving up, I do not mean I am not giving up on wrestling. I will never give up on wrestling so that is not even a question. It is like a sports team that you enjoy that may struggle at times. I am always going to watch I do not even think wrestling (WWE included) is that bad. To me it’s not bad at all. When you combine that with the other promotions that I watch, I think the quality of wrestling as whole is decent when it comes to my enjoyment of the shows. My biggest problem with wrestling (especially WWE and GFW) is that it underachieves more than it is actively bad.

That was a long introduction/prologue. Anyway, when I say that I am not giving up…I mean I am not submitting to the idea that nothing WWE (or any wrestling company, but especially WWE) does matters because their numbers are going to be within a certain range no matter what they do. I think that wrestling can do bigger numbers if there was better booking and more star power. An example is how much Kenny Omega has helped ROH’s numbers. It’s a smaller scale, but it proves that the right star can move numbers.

Another reason that I refuse to believe that there is nothing that WWE can do to increase its numbers is because a great deal of the criticism that the company gets for its booking, writing and presentation is legitimate criticism. If they fixed some of those issues, their numbers would be even better. It’s not like “the product” is getting a 90 percent approval ratings. Indeed, the fact that ratings are stabilized, but still historically low, attendance is down for now and the Network is a slight disappointment (a big disappointment when one looks at initial projections) does correlate with complaints about the television show and the general WWE presentation. If WWE can look at those complaints (I will not rehash them) and make changes…then the numbers should in theory go up.

In essence, I am agreeing with what the Vince McMahon narrative was for years…you need the right attraction and you will draw.

How to Fix 50/50 booking…if they insist

50/50 booking is going to be a constant theme of this blog because it may be the biggest problem that WWE has in terms of getting people over. Also, knowing their patterns makes things more predictable than they should be. I would say this, I think it works better in other promotions than in WWE, because the only issue with 50/50 booking in promotions like NJPW and ROH is that it makes things predictable, but in WWE it not only creates predictability, it makes it difficult for people to get over.

With the above in mind, if 50/50 booking is going to be a reality, then there are two things that WWE could do to make it easier to digest for those in the audience who do see it as a problem.

The first is acknowledge the parity. Acknowledging the parity has to be more than “anything can happen in WWE.” It has to be treated like a sport where it is outright said that the wrestlers’ records are relatively even for the most part. I see why they would not approach things in the manner I just suggested, but at this point it is almost insulting the intelligence of the audience not to discuss the reality that 90 percent of the company is around the .500 mark (at least it seems that way). I do not always agree with Wade Keller, but one thing he often preaches that I do agree with is that companies should “own their booking”. If they want to book 50/50, then they should address it just like any other sports announcer would address parity in a league where there is obviously parity.

The second one is a bit more difficult to explain in terms of reasoning. I’ll start by saying that one thing I feel wrestling promotions should avoid (for the most part), is giving people a reason to remember that this is a “show.” When people talk about that, they usually talk about wrestlers “laying their stuff in” or not writing or producing a “hokey” segment. I agree with those sentiments. I would expand it and say that when a promotion does a match one week and then does the same match the next week…there needs to be a storyline reason for it. If Wrestler A beats Wrestler B on November 1, if there is a rematch on November 8…give us a reason. Even if that reason is on the company’s website or YouTube page. When you don’t give a reason, it makes some members of the audience think…”oh, they just want to give Wrestler B his or her win back.”

If you don’t want to give a storyline reason, go back to what I wrote in the above paragraph, just have the announcers say that the management of the show in question wanted to see if last week was a fluke or that the promotion believes that there is parity, so one match does not prove that one is better than the other and the next match is to make sure. Of course that does not explain why there would not be a third match, but this post is to make 50/50 booking work. I think it’s a poor way to book, but there are ways to make it manageable.

Revisiting My Top 10

Last year, I posted my top 10 favorite wrestlers. Now that I am more into NJPW, that list has changed. So here are my top 10 favorite wrestlers right now.

  1. Naito
  2. A.J Styles
  3. Kenny Omega
  4. Okada
  5. Dalton Castle
  6. Young Bucks
  7. Asuka
  8. Usos
  9. Minoru Suzuki
  10. Depends on the Day…it could be Miz, Roman Reigns, John Cena, LIJ’s Takahashi, Will Osperay, Zack Sabre, Sasha Banks,  Sami Zayn, Ibushi, Brock Lesnar or anyone of a number of other wrestlers.

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.

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.