The real reason why the WWE product sucks
by, 02-05-2014 at 09:09 AM (11614 Views)
The way the WWE poorly books the talent they have under contract is a symptom of the real problem. - It's not the cause.
The reason why the WWE sucks, and has sucked for a very long time, is due to one reason in particular far above all other reasonss. It all began in October of 1999. That was when the WWF (at the time) went from being a privately owned company to one that became publicly traded on the stock market.
Why does it matter in terms of how the company produces its television shows and books its events? It means that the WWE has an obligation to its shareholders, an obligation they don't tell you about because it's an obligation that they are far more concerned with when compared to the obligation they have to the common consumer/fan.
It's pretty simple. The obligation is that they have is to show profit growth to their shareholders so that their stock value grows. This is an obligation that is backed by the law. If members on the board feels the management at WWE is not doing what they (the board) feels is in the company's best interests, i.e. financial interests, legal charges can be brought against management for failing to meet its fiduciary responsibilities on behalf of the shareholders ... this is hyper-capitalism for you folks. This is how the game is played.
Furthermore, any company that's publicly traded needs to show growth - steady growth from quarter to quarter. If a publicly traded company fails to show growth in its profits, it dies. So the board members and management do whatever they can to show profits for the end of the quarter they are in. Very very very rarely do publicly owned companies, like the WWE, think things through and see in the long-term. All they care about are is that next quarterly report looming in three months.
So now let's look at a wrestler, like, oh, say: John Cena. John Cena, as he is, is a proven commodity. Kids love him and what kids love sells. Always has, always will. So the WWE is in no way going to want to mess with their meal ticket. In fact, though we all like to think that every decision in the WWE is made by Vince, HHH and Stephanie, the reality is that how the company books its shows and events is probably based more on what the board members want to see than anything else. What the board wants to see are events that bring the most profit so that overall earnings are better than last quarters, so that the value in their shares in the company goes up. Naturally the board will take its recommendations from Vince and family, but you would be foolish to think that Vince doesn't book his events to please his big shareholders either.
In the past Vince could regroup, flesh out angles over the long-term and build compelling storylines which enhance the angle and very often any given match. More often than not titles wouldn't even need to be part of the angle. Those days are now gone. Time is a luxary angles and the overall product of the WWE no longer has. Shareholders of WWE stock want to see profits. That's all.
So how a corporate champion like Cena is booked is probably controlled more so by how the collective members on the WWE board feels he should be booked more so than trying to come up with anything innovative to make for a more compelling and interesting product, because "more compelling" and "interesting" doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be as popular (i.e. as profitable). A lot of people wonder why Cena has never turned heel in all these years - well this is the reason why. Why turn Cena heel when it could impact the profit margin. That is a risk they run - a big one apparently, considering in all these years Cena has never gone back to being a heel.
The WWE, in an effort to engorge itself on profit from quarter-to-quarter on behalf of their shareholders, will book wrestlers who are proven commodities time and time again. They won't let angles grow and breathe on their own like they were able to do pre-Oct. 1999. Angles are sloppy, rushed and have no organic sense of authenticity to them ... but, they do generate revenue, I can't argue with that, and that's the prime motive. I'm not saying it's right or wrong ethically, it's their company, they can do what they want, but the product for sure has suffered.
One thing that I don't have a problem with is all the part-time talent the WWE uses now, but I know a lot of other fans do and I certainly understand their frusteration. Part-time wrestlers, something that the WWE never did pre-1999, is yet another effect of the company going public. Special attraction talents are used strategically to boost ppv buys and help pad the numbers of the bottom line for their quarterly reports.
Now we come to the 2014 Royal Rumble and Daniel Bryan. The actual Royal Rumble event was a bust and the fans were irritated. Had Bryan won the Rumble it still would have been a bad show, because a 3hr+ ppv should come down to more than just one moment of a guy winning a gimmick match. But, as we all know, Bryan didn't win it - which made it even all the moe unbearable. Though the Rumble was a bust, the event and its aftermath do mark a potentially important pivot point for the WWE and its fans.
Talking about Daniel Bryan specifically, the WWE is very hesitant to make Daniel Bryan the face of the company for a number of reasons. First of all, the WWE championship means nothing anymore - the face of the company is, and will continue to be John Cena. Bryan could become the champion, but it won't matter, because Cena is and always will be the guy. The board loves him and Vince loves him. Daniel Bryan, a guy half Cena's size, is the type of talent Vince as chairman of the board, would never vouch for to his shareholders as being someone he'd stake the future of their company and it's precious profit growth on. The same can be said for CM Punk.
Pro-wrestling has always been about box-office numbers with or without quarterly reports, and the fact remains that "Bigger" sells better. It doesn't mean that the product will be better... but you can't argue with the history: business will in all likelihood do better. For certain this whole new reality of how the business is run is a major reason why Punk was fed up with the company.
The fan reaction to Daniel Bryan not winning the Rumble has certainly got the attention of the WWE. But for how long? That the WWE brass cares more about shareholders than anything else, but that should not be taken as a statement equivalent of one saying they don't care about the opinion of their fans at all... they do care, but they're going to do what they want to do. UNTIL, that is, their dollar numers are affected.
So fans do have a say. If you're truly fed up with the WWE and the direction of their product, it's real simple: stop buying their shit. Don't buy their PPVs, don't purchase their merch and for the love of Odin, don't subscribe to their network (a rare marketing campaign by the WWE actually designed to ensure a steady profit base for more than just one quarter). That $9.99 per month may sound like a good deal - but ultimately it's going to lead to an overall product that's more watered down than it already is and you can bet the farm that it won't stay only $9.99 forever... but getting back to my initial point: If you're a fan of the WWE and you want to be heard, it's not going to happen overnight. As a collective group the fans have to show the WWE that they're sick of the same tired shit: Cena, Orton, Batista, etc,
You can piss and moan about what a shitty job you think they're doing on twitter, blogs, videos, etc. They don't care about that - people have been doing that since the internet. In fact, they like it. Chants of "you suck" or "same old shit" from sold out arenas aimed at the John Cenas and Randy Ortons of the world aren't exactly something the WWE smiles upon, but at the end of the day it's still a sell out crowd. The way to show the WWE that you want to see something new is when they see nobody is buying their PPVs, going to their events or purchasing their merchanside. Until this happens they have no reason to change their course of action - so they won't.
When the fans stop buying their shit, believe me, they'll course correct. No doubt about it. But until then they're going to keep going to the well that got them where they are today and where they are today is bigger than where they were last year and the year before that, etc. So of course they're going to keep doing the "same old shit." That same old shit has been selling. As much as the marketplace needs and depends on innovation, the market is also afraid of it when it's already doing something that's working.