If your like me and you are a pro wrestling fan you probably have some very mixed emotions about it in the last few years. It's like I love to watch it but at the same time I hate it because they have dropped the ball on so many simple yet key things. While we would all love it to get back to the way it was in the late 90's that is just not going to happen however, there are some changes that would not be very difficult to implement at all that would drastically improve the product. They seem like no brainers to me. Guys you are not alone. The ratings reflect it. The PPV sales. The business knows it has made some mistakes, but its the unwillingness to correct these mistakes that has me baffled. I am going to suggest some things that not only make the product better for the fan but they would be very wise business decisions. Strategies to rake in the money they are losing to piracy and more.
1) End The Damn Draft.
Quite possibly the worst concept the WWE has ever come up with. "Let's alienate our fans so they know their favorite superstar is not going to be on the show tonight" Let's not keep them on the edge of their seat thinking their hero is going to save the day"" Hell , We might as well tell them there is no point in tuning in tonight"
Do you see how bad of an idea this was? The worst thing to happen to the business was Vince McMahon eventually conquering WCW and putting them out of business. There is no competition to push the WWE to make a better product, however this presented a unique opportunity for Vince. He had a roster full of talent so he decided to split it into two shows???? AWFUL IDEA!!! You could actually have these guys sort of set into two groups anyways so certain people can travel while others are resting or whatever. I get that. The big roster allows for that to happen but you don't need to let the fans in on it. Keep the element of surprise! Even if you feel you split up the talent evenly between the two shows, not everyone likes the same guys. So what if I only have three WWE wrestlers I really like to watch. Now what if by chance all three are on RAW, I'm probably going to skip watching Smackdown!
END THE DRAFT!!!!
2) Restore Some Integrity To The Belts.
2a) Unify All Belts
First off before we get two deep into this they need to end all the duplicate belts. The 2 Heavyweight Champs and Two this and two that is ridiculous and confusing. It makes BOTH titles feel illegitimate! Now if they are to follow my first plan of ending the draft, this is easily solved. You just have unification matches however I have another plan if they refuse to end the draft. First you unify all the titles at the PPV with a whole PPV show full of Champion V Champion matches. Then on the next week of TV shows The title holder has to fight on both shows! This would showcase the companies top wrestler, it would give some meaning towards the actual belt and it would make every champ a fighting champ!! Once per month the Champ must defend the belt on EACH SHOW. Now if they will end the draft you also have a title unification PPV! All Champions must fight all other champions then at the end of the day there is just one.
2b) End The Ridiculously Short Title Reigns!!!
This creates all sorts of problems and it needs to stop. The WWE has stomped all over their belts and made them almost as worthless as when David Arquette won the WCW world title! Having the titles change hands so much takes away all the mystique of the belts. When they push a guy, they should let him run with it 8-9 months, maybe longer. A short title reign should be 3 months not 3 days! It also ruins their history! Follow me here for a sec....
A guy like Hulk Hogan is a 6 time world champion. Sounds good right? Undertaker is like a 3 time champ. Then you have guys like Randy Orton who is only 6 or 7 years in the business and he is like an 11 time champ. Nothing personal either, it's just c'mon. Slow it down! HHH is like a 14 time champ. It's way too much.
2c) Always Have A Legit Champion!
I can not stress this point enough. Your company's champion should always be someone people are scared of. Someone nasty. Someone with a lot of skill and maybe even decent talent on the mic. When a casual wrestling fan is flipping thru the channels and he sees someone like Jeff Jarrett or Christian with the title it makes them keep clicking. No thanks. Now, say that same wrestling fan flips thru the channels and sees Goldberg with the belt then they say" Oh what's this? Whats this guys deal?" I know Goldberg is not wrestling but you know what I mean. The champ should always be one of the top guys. Even though it is totally scripted people put a lot of weight into who is champion and it reflects on your company. I know that sounds absurd seeing as wrestling is staged but it is true. If the champion looks like a pussy most people are not going to respect your product and they are going to change the channel. If they view your champion as a stiff, what do you think they say about the rest of your guys? It does not have to be a popular guy or girl. Just someone that can kick some ass!
3) The GM OF Each Show Should ALWAYS Be A Former SUPERstar
First off, for the fans isn't it just always better when you have a former wrestler as a GM? There have been rare exceptions like Stephanie McMahon but for the most part the front office types are boring as hell as GM and no one really cares what they have to say. When you have someone like Mick Foley for instance as GM, that alone might make someone watch who was on the fence about watching. Even Regal. He was a great GM. I loved his role as GM. Always funny as hell! Here's the other reason why I feel the GM should be a former Superstar and this is also why Foley is the first name that came to mind.
Why give the easy relaxing job to someone that has already been behind a desk their whole career? Why not reward someone like Foley who has given his health to this business with no questions asked? Why not let wrestlers get that spot to have a steady pay check after they are done competing? I also think with big stars that are getting older, maybe giving some of these guys some time off BEFORE they get injured. Like for instance. Two of your top guys are over 50. Well have one work 9 months then 3 months as gm. That would rest his older body and keep his persona on TV. Then after his 3 months rest he's back and the next 50+ guy rotates in. It makes me so mad to see someone like Vicki come out, annoy the F out of everyone, and collect a big check! Give that money to a former champ who has taken one too many chairshots to the dome!
4) Reduce The Number Of PPVs Back Down To The Original 4
This should have been done a while ago. Less than half a million people are buying some of these things. Now people can say lower the price, do this, do that. We will get into what they need to do financially and what their new marketing strategy should be but first let's just talk what benefits the fans would get out of reducing the number of PPVs
Once you drop it down to 4 the importance of each one goes way up. They instantly become must see for all fans. This would also help out my idea of longer title reigns wouldn't it? If a guy can hold the belt til the next PPV that is three months right there!! I think this is a great idea. Honestly I really believe they would make more selling these 4 with the new interest there would be in each than they are selling all 12 they sell now. No one wants to pay for that and why should they? Your just going to charge them $50 again next month.
4b) Move The PPVs To The WWE Network
Now as part of this there is another strategy within. A lot of people illegally view the PPVs online. So if you think about it the WWE is losing a ton of money on that. I think it is a much bigger problem than some will let on. They have got to be losing millions of dollars due to the PPVs being pirated. (what do they expect at $50) So what can the WWE do to get some of this money back? Here is a great strategy. Move all the PPVs to the new WWE network they are launching. Sure you are not gonna get $50 each but NO ONE is buying those for that price anyways. The reason this would work is as follows.
The people going online and searching out the streams of this PPVs are generally more than a casual fan. If the WWE moves the PPVs to the network and charges a subscription fee most of these fans will pay to get access to the other shows on there and if its just a few bucks more than a normal channel they will be happy to shell it out and get the PPV with no hassle and in HQ. They could probably get as much as $20 month if they included all the PPVs. I think it's something they should seriously look at. Their current marketing strategy is failing miserably. The buy rate is awful for their PPVs lately. I say charge $20 per month for the WWE Network with the PPVs included in hi-def. Everyone would make out there. The fan, the company and even the wrestler due to much more exposure now that people are actually going to be watching.
5) Good Or Bad? Make Up Your Mind!
Too many heel to face turns and vice-versa!. Just when you get used to a character he/she is flipping the script totally and now sits on the other side of the fence. I don't like it. I like my good guys to be the good guys and the bad guys to be the bad guys. Yes sometimes I agree it's needed to freshen things up. Like right now for instance could they ever use a John Cena heel turn more than now? That is fine. When it builds up for years and tehn someone switches like Hogan to the NWO it's so cool because it is a big deal. It didn't use to happen a lot. Now it seems every 6 weeks wrestlers are changing whether they are the play by the book pretty boy or the lowdown dirty cheating heel! Some guys they really force it with. Think Stone Cold mid 2000s. Awful turn to heel. I hated seeing him as a bad guy. WHAT!>?? WHAT!>?? Stupid!
6) Improve The Life And Longevity Of The Former Wrestlers.
Easier said than done right? Maybe. I have a few suggestions though. To improve their health and to keep injury at a minimum these guys need more rest. Wrestling 3-5 nights a week almost all year long is just too much on the body. People don't realize it but wrestling is actually a big effort. There is no off season. No weeks off! they even wrestle on any holiday if it happens to fall on their scheduled day. Vince needs to give in a little. Personally I think the whole business should take 8 weeks off. Let the talent rest, the creative team recharge and line it up with summer vacation so these wrestlers can have some sort of family life and spend some time with their family during their vacation. If they can't all have 8 weeks off at once, that's when you split the roster. Just to get some massive amounts of vacation time out. The rest would help with a lot of issues I think. In some cases it might even help out with people abusing substances a little less if they have more time to heal, less nights to perform and if they are not so depressed from never seeing their family.
It's never going to be Hogan and Steiner spray painting Sting with his shirt off. It's never even going to be HHH pedigree-ing The Rock Through a table but with a roster that deep with talent it can still be very, very good. Hopefully someone at the WWE can take notice of some of these ideas. They have the money. They have the talent. They just don't seem to have the drive anymore. That died with World Championship Wrestling.
Brian S Staveley
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