The Cure for the Current Product
Vince McMahon once proclaimed that ‘Monday Night Raw’ was the cure for the common show -- That the World Wrestling Federation was making a conscious effort to entertain us, the viewing audience, in a more contemporary manner -- That the simplistic theory of “Good guy VS Bad guy” is most definitely passé and that they think their fan-base is tired of having their intelligence insulted.
When I think about the WWE as a whole, I think that it isn’t just the storylines, or “angles” as they are referred to in the biz, that are passé. Quite frankly I feel that the WWE need to realise that it is now the year 2015 and the era of the ‘Superhero—Hustle, Loyalty & Respect’ IS passé.
The IWC claim “One of the biggest reasons WWE is so bad is because they don’t have any competition”. We live in a day and age where everything is ‘On Demand’ and ‘Instant’, so what does that mean for WWE? It means that everything is WWEs competition. Therefore WWE need to realise that in order to climb back up that ladder of relevance in mainstream popularity, it has to adapt to what Is popular and compelling in this modern age and stop confining itself to a product that was once popular some 25 years ago.
It cannot even reach the ratings it held 15 years ago, let alone compete against the ratings of shows of todays standard such as ‘The Walking Dead’ or ‘Game of Thrones’ – and the fact is, Yes, it would be great if the WWE could reach those ‘Attitude Era Ratings’ – but if you are not in the television business to reach the HIGHEST ratings on TV, and be the BEST product on television, then you are very much in the wrong business.
The WWE need to borrow styles from programs that have compelling storylines and three-dimensional characters whom have goals, trials and tribulations like it once did 15 years ago. It needs to have characters who have layers and that are human, characters such as Sawyer from ‘Lost’ or Al from ‘Deadwood’ that people can relate too – it needs to have logic – these characters need to have moral judgment, because at the moment they don’t and that is why no one can relate to any of their characters – which in turn means that their audience cannot relate to any of their characters – it doesn’t matter how much of a good Rasslin’ match they have, if the audience can’t relate to the characters then you are not connecting with them. The product needs to use the attraction of sex in its product, it needs the use of violence and blood because quite frankly that is what the masses want, there are reasons as to why ‘Game of Thrones’ is so damn popular!. It needs to use elements of comedy – not slapstick humour, where Natalya farts or just because Bull Dempsey is fat that means he loves cake -- because the world has moved on from that. There are reasons why shows like ‘Family Guy’ are the world’s most popular comedies and shows like ‘The Flintstones’ are not even around anymore – because the world has moved on from it, but yet the WWE remains confined to a slapstick, cheesey “You hit me with the steel chair and screwed me out of the title – Now I have to beat you in a fake fight in order to set the record straight” stylistic product. Its time they realised that why the large amounts of watchers from 15 years ago were switching on was because it was good television. They don’t want the fake matches shoved down their throats because it just reminds that THAT is what they are watching – they want to be invested in the story and characters – its escapism for them from their everyday lives. These same people are fully aware that Kiefer Sutherland doesn’t really save the world from terrorists in 24 hours – they are fully aware that Robert Downey Jr doesn’t really have an Iron suit that he flys around in – and WWE shoving 13 minute fake rasslin’ matches down the viewers throats a very big reminder that what they are watching is not real.
The world has moved on from what they are selling.
Do you know what the world has also moved on from? 1980s cheese. There are reasons as to why so many cheesy 1980s shows get re-made into Hollywood movies, because the ideas are good – but the tackiness of the 1980s that surrounds them, hold them back. WWE are still living in the past – and one of the huge reasons as to why this is, is because of Wrestlemania. Not the actual event itself – But the gimmick, the fact that the entire formula of the show is designed to set up for one show per year.
The term “Wrestlemania” is very 1980s, its cheesy, its tacky and quite frankly, to the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Playing – ‘The Walking Dead’ watching – the ‘Eminem’ listening world – it isn’t “cool”.
Take a look at comic books. They have survived because they have adapted to the world and changed with the times. They needed to be cheesy and tacky in the 60s because that was a sign of the times. Clark Kent has gone from being a bumbling buffoon who runs into a phone box, spins around and ALAS – he becomes the man of steel. The reason this concept did not work with the 2006 flop ‘Superman Returns’ was because the world has surpassed that. Superman has gone from being an alien from another world, here to do good – to an alienated and lonely man, trying to protect a world whom hate him due to fear. This is because the people demand more compelling storylines to and layered characters to whom they can relate.
There are reasons as to why Christopher Nolans ‘Dark Knight trilogy’ did not involve “Bat-shark replant sprey”.
When I think of the term ‘Wrestlemania’ – I think of an old man in a hospital bed, still rockin’ that ‘Frankie Says Relax’ Tee – covered in fading tattoos of all the glam bands from his hay-day, just waiting for the nurses to pull the plug, whilst his ungrateful Grandson sits beside him with his legs up on the bed, blasting ‘Bring me the Horizon’ and playing ‘Candy Crush’ on his IPhone.
The WWE is a big ball of clay, just waiting to be moulded and shaped into anything it wants. But it hasn’t been for a very long time and that’s because people on the inside tell themselves that the reason people don’t watch it is because they know wrestling is fake – No. The reason people don’t watch, guys – is because it is stupid.
The WWE needs to be relevant again. Remember when Roddy Piper and Cindy Lauper feuded? Why are they not paying Lady GaGa a bucket full of cash to publicly fued with someone like Seth Rollins? Why are they not paying Greg Clegane (The Mountain from ‘Game of Thrones’) buckets of cash to get trained up to have a ‘David VS Goliath’ match with Daniel Bryan? – Because come on! That is a modern day Andre/Hogan moment just waiting to happen!! – And yes, you CAN do these things. Ted DiBiase was right, everyone DOES have a price.
Even the WWEs format is boring now.
The formula is the same and it has been for years. The only time WWE ever try to push the creative envelope is around Summerslam and the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’, everything else in between is filler and doesn’t mean anything, hence why ‘Mr Money in the Bank’ always tends to cash in around these time – beause they know that’s the only time people really care about what happens, and that’s because they have made it that way – not us!
The only reason the Royal Rumble is still popular is because it’s the only time of the year where we as an audience feel anything close to unpredictability – and that’s only because we hope to see some of the old stars lace up their boots for one night. How long can they keep doing this before its guys like The Miz whom are the surprise entrants?
When it comes to the Pay Per Views – Less IS more.
Instead of one every month, I propose the idea of one every quarter. One for each season – The WWE Network can be used for supercards throughout the year, like what they did with ‘Elimination Chamber’. Keep all your top matches for the BIG FOUR – for the matches such as The Undertaker VS Brock Lesnar, and use the John Cena vs Kevin Owens matches on the supercards.
It’s time for the WWE to enter the year 2015. What better way of doing this by putting over a talent who has the potential to lead the WWE into this new era – I’m talking of course about Bray Wyatt. After an amazing 20+ years, it is now time for The Undertaker to hang up his boots, I don’t say this because he cant work anymore, , but I say this because he has done everything he can do! There is nobody left for him to face – There are no more mountains for this character to climb.
(Authors Note: Except maybe Jeff Jarretts. Pun intended.)
The only person that anybody can think of for ‘taker to face is Sting, and honestly, 15 years ago that would have been incredible! Hell, even 10 years ago – but when I think of a match between those two now, it makes me think of that one episode of ‘The Simpsons’ where Mr. Burns and Abe Simpson have a fight.
So, why not have Bray Wyatt end his career and lead us into a new era for the WWE.
The WWE try to cater to so many different types of demographic all on one show – Raw, and look what it has done to it, it has become a show that makes totally no sense at all!
You want a show for the Kids? Make ‘Superstars’ that show!
You want a show for Rasslin’ fans? Make Smackdown that show!
You want a show for the average TV watcher? Then make Raw that show!
I’m not suggesting separate rosters for each show, I’m suggesting that they all interlink with one another, but each show is catered for their specific audience.
And the amazing thing is that they have the potiential to be greater than they have ever been due to things such as the WWE Network and Social Media.
I do not consider Kayfabe dead. I believe that the Kayfabe concept hs simply evolved and is waiting around scratching its arse because the industry just hasn’t caught up yet.
The entire world knows exactly what happens behind the scenes of wrestling – because of Dirtsheets. The fact is is that if its on a dirtsheet then people believe it, for the same reasons as to why people believe whatever they read in the news. So WORK THEM!! Zach Ryder is getting buried backstage by Triple H? MAKE IT AN ANGLE!!! Have Ryder tweet about his frustrations – then continue to snowball the idea, the next thing you know the smarks are reading an article titled ‘Triple H Upset backstage with Ryder due to controversial Twitter remarks’.
Then you play it out on television, and it is more compelling because the marks thing it is real – and correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t making the marks believe what they are seeing is real the essence of Kayfabe? We know the matches aren’t real, but the real life politics are. So work them.
With the WWE Network, they have the potential to make their entire product better than it ever was. They can do anything they want. If they want to write a controversial angle such as the Pillman/Austin Gun incident, they can! They could even have Smackdown as their main free TV show and have Raw on the network as a unique selling point for it where it HAS controversial angles, sexual content, blood and amusing mature content.
The Network is great for any wrestling fan, but it they want to hit the amount of subscribers that an ‘On Demand’ streaming service like Netflix hits, then it is time they upped their game, because right now the WWE Network only appeals to a nitch market of wrestling fans, and those fans want a select amount of things; The Attitude Era, WCW and ECW Pay Per Views, Nitro and NXT – the free monthly Pay Per Views are just an added bonus. WWE – It’s time to raise the bar.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as per – whether you agree or disagree, I thank you for taking the time to read my article.
I’ve been Jake Jesus, and that is what’s best for business.
Follow Jake on twitter: @IAmJakeJesus