Is the “Rawkdown” really beneficial for the WWE?
by, 09-03-2011 at 10:13 AM (3616 Views)
Now, I’m going to play devil’s advocate (well, sort of devil’s advocate) for keeping the Split-Brand concept. It seems that one of the main reasons for combining the two shows, which I collectively call the “Rawkdown” is to get better ratings for Smackdown. Now the fact is the hottest draws will always be on Raw and they will always be on Raw because that’s the WWE’s bread and butter. The hot draws that are thrown to Smackdown are there for the reason is to help the shows ratings, but in turn, it’s to free up space on the Raw Roster to continue hyping the main wrestler Vince wants to center his company around. That is perfectly understandable. If Raw ratings go down, then the business will go down. Because of this, Smackdown will always be the inferior show.
Now if combining the shows is due to ratings, we must take the other factors into account which is why they are low. First of all, Smackdown is on the Sy-Fy channel. Over all, the Sy-Fy channel does not have the same ratings as the USA channel. So, comparing the RAW ratings versus the Smackdown ratings isn’t really fair because they both are aired on two different channels.
Secondly, RAW on Monday night on the USA channel is so ingrained in the WWE fans psyche that people tune in as a force of habit. I don’t think I will ever forget that on Monday Nights on the USA Channel at 9pm, I can watch RAW. Smackdown on the other hand is different. It has traveled from Thursday nights on UPN to Friday nights on UPN to Friday on the CW to Friday on My Network TV then finally to Friday on Sy-Fy. Plus, ratings across the board tend to be lower on Friday nights, because many people choose to go out on Fridays than stay at home. Does this mean that Smackdown can never get the same ratings as Raw? I will say that nothing is impossible, but both shows are on different playing fields.
My problem of combining the two shows (creating Rawkdown Part 1 and Rawkdown Part 2) is that it’s like you’re selling me the same beer in two different bottles. As a fan, I like the variety of watching different wrestlers, which is what the split brand gives me. By combining the two shows, I can already guess that I’m going to be watching the same set of wrestlers spreading their one or two storylines from one show to the next show. I’m probably shortsighted on this, but I can’t see this getting better and better. There has to be a long term strategy in order for this to really work, but only time will tell as to what the WWE has in store.
Many of you guys have great ideas on what the WWE should do now that the brands are not officially split anymore. For me, I believe that instead of combining the brands, they need to go the other way and even more divide the brands. Kevin Nash said in an interview in describing the difference between WCW and WWE is that WCW was a multi-media company that does wrestling, while the WWE was a wrestling company that does wrestling. This statement is so true because if many of you can recall, WCW was one of many companies owned by Ted Turner. He bought the company not because he wanted to rule over the wrestling world, but to rule over the cable networks. WCW was one of the companies he purchased in reaching that goal. Now if rumors are to be true about the WWE Corporation (and not the WWE wrestling show), they too are striving to become a multi-media company with their own cable channel. You can’t have a cable channel centered around one wrestling show. Now, if they created a form of a “minor league” wrestling promotion with their own belts and exclusive roster, then you will have two shows to air on the channel. Then create NXT 2.0 (see my previous blog) as another promotion, then you’ll have 3 wrestling shows for the channel.
Now, you might think that that’s what WWE has been trying to do with the split-brand. True, but what I’m proposing is that each show have their own Executive Vice President (second to only Vince McMahon) with creative control of their respective shows. A show ran by Vince is different from a show ran by Bischoff, which is different from a show ran by Cornette, which is different from a show ran by Heyman. If Bischoff, Cornette, and Heyman all had a show with the same budget and cable network airtime, each show will definitely be distinct from each other. That distinction is the variety that the wrestling fans are looking for. Some will like one more than the other, but the ultimate winner would be the WWE (Corporation) who will essentially own all the shows.
We all can pretty much tell that this scenario has a 99.99% of not coming about because it’s hard to see Vince giving anyone total control over any wrestling product he owns. Vince had the opportunity to achieve this scenario when he purchased WCW and ECW, but as many of us have witnessed, those two shows (well, ECW was the only company that had their own show under the WWE) were watered down into WWE style. Instead of keeping it’s distinction, it returned the “same beer in two different bottles” analogy.
I have great admiration for Vince McMahon for all he has accomplished in the world of wrestling. Those who grew up in the 80’s that are still wrestling fans today, has seen the evolution of the WWE. The question is, where does the WWE go from here? I don’t have the answer, but neither do I think that the solution is doing away with the split-brand concept. Instead of combining the two brands, create a new promotion out of one of the brands with a separate identity. Theoretically, it all sounds pretty good.
Leave your comments below. I’m looking forward to hearing your reaction.