How to Regain a Loyal Fan - Pt X
by, 09-02-2012 at 03:36 AM (4119 Views)
Raw is now 3 hours each week. Unfortunately it has more time spent in commercial break than it does on action in the ring. The thing that gets me is that I don’t understand how people can still call WWE a “wrestling program”. To me, WWE (minus NXT and FCW) is what I have been trying to distance myself from for the majority of my wrestling fandom; A Male Soap Opera. I love the, to quote Shane Douglas, “Sport of professional wrestling.” I am passionate for this industry to the point that I talk about it openly with all my friends, some who are clueless to whom exactly CM Punk is (let alone a Damien Sandow or a Dean Ambrose). With that said, I am tired of trying to argue the likes of WWE being a male soap opera when I know that it truly is just that. Instead, I find myself directing people towards TNA as to what “true wrestling” is to me, and what exactly I find entertaining about it; the choreographed sequences inside the ring that showcase the athleticism, psychology, and intensity of professional wrestling. The E Universe is no longer a wrestling company. They have done everything possible to create distance from the word, with the exception of removing the ring and allowing a select few more than 4 minute matches. As Aries said to Moxley (Ambrose if you’re following) before Evolve 7, they are not wrestlers, but rather live action (used loosely here) Soap Opera Stars. My message to the WWE is clearly this; do not run from the word “wrestling”… Embrace it!
What is it that separates HBK and Undertaker from others that are listed in the “legends” topic? It’s the fact that their most memorable moments are focused on wrestling matches. When you think about Stone Cold and The Rock, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t the matches they had, but the segments they were in. It is just natural because of the roles they played in the company, which helped make Raw so very entertaining. However, these stars had a supporting cast that kept the action rolling during the segments that they weren’t involved in. You had time to think and wonder what was going to happen in the “big” angle, but you did not have time to lose interest in the show while waiting, because the action in the ring had you just as entertained by the mini-stories that were being told. The Wrestling is what kept you tuned in while you were waiting for the stars to return to the screen. This problem seems to be blamed on creative not involving mid-card wrestlers, or the wrestlers being blamed for having a lack of personality. While, I can see this argument for either side, I believe it to be the limitations that the E puts on all of their wrestlers. Example of this being WGTT. So many claimed that Benjamin had no personality and that Haas was Pinocchio, but if you have seen what WGTT can do when the reins are loosened, then you can see that the potential the E Universe had for these guys originally is truly there. They were just stifled by a Corporation that had to dictate ever single move in the ring and in promos. Matt Sydel can be a current example as well. Evan Bourne is a kid friendly, marketable character, but his best work was playing the cocky heel from WSX or DG. When you restrict talent from being who they are, you end up with mediocre characters in which people become tired of very quickly and change the channel.
TNA, for all the great they are currently doing, have a similar problem in developing talent. Sure, A Double over came this by stealing the show every time he stepped in the ring, but how often did he step in the ring on Live TV? Let us dive into my useless fact knowledge… Aries re-debuted with TNA in June of 2011 with 1 match to get entered into the Destination X battle for a contract. He averaged 3 matches on TV for 13 months until winning the WHC this year. This includes PPV shows mind you, with the most appearances in May of this year (5) in which he competed on each show during the month and the PPV. Now, we know there was a total of 89 matches for the same time, meaning that he was putting in the work at the house shows to get the crowd (re)introduced to him and show the work ethic the man has. The credit for Aries though is that he made the most out of each time he was on TV. He made you notice him in the ring and showcased how well he could keep the attention of the people with some solid work on the stick. Aries made The Greatest Man to Ever Live; TNA simply allowed him the ability to do so with the freedom of being himself. This is the dynamic that the E Universe is missing in their formula. I understand their hesitation to do so because some people tend to take things overboard when given creative freedom, but when given the right direction, some of these guys will become standout stars in whichever role they play. This is why Eric Young is so over with the Impact crowd. Why I laugh out loud at Daniels and his Appletini. It’s why I still consider AJ in the top wrestlers list. They let their talent showcase the best of their personalities while trying (as best they can) to hide the flaws that they have… But regardless of the WTF angles, they allow their talent to showcase how good they are in the ring. Clair Lynch was a HORRIBLE angle. The Styles vs. Daniels - Last Man Standing match was EPIC.
When the “gurus” of this business spend time researching, they look for two things: Matches and “Shoot” interviews. Not being a Guru, when I do research I do not look up “Raw Episode 417”; I search “Stone Cold/HHH vs. Jericho/Benoit”. My point is that we don’t search for the episodes, we look for the matches. We look to the gold that we expect from a “wrestling program” in that specific match that we loved. If I buy a PPV DVD for my son for Cena, it is so he can watch the match with one of his favorite superstars. He doesn’t want to see the touts that John sent out, he doesn’t want to listen to him tell the fans how much he loves them; he wants to see John wrestle. With him being 9 years old and fitting in the current demographic that the E Universe focuses on, that speaks volumes to me. When I talk to kids his age, they do not say that their favorite Rey Rey moment has anything to do with him talking; it has to do with his matches. It’s amazing to me that the E Universe thinks that kids tune into their show to watch someone talk for 20 minutes. If anything, they are creating that chance for young people to lose interest because they have become bored without seeing any action they tuned into see, which is bad business in my point of view. If I tune into watch the Football (NFL for my British readers), but they show 25% of the game while 25% went to commercials and the other 50% went to interviews with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, or the announcers, I don’t think I’d be watching football for much longer. Then again, that’s me and after all, what do the fans of a product know about the product itself anyway… After all, we’re all just marks, right?
As always, feel free to comment and I will reply as I can. Have a different opinion? Make your valid points as I always enjoy hearing them. Like what you read? Subscribe to this series and follow along as I continue giving my take on how the industry is progressing and regressing simultaneously. If you feel like you’ve missed the direction of this blog, check out the previous blog archives and catch up a bit on where my opinions are based from(this will also help you understand why I choose the word “loyal”) and what the goal of this series truly is; How to regain loyal fans.