I know this isn’t exactly breaking new ground, but WWE can be a little all over the place at times. There are times where they make perfect sense and there are times where you wonder what in the world they’re doing. As time goes on, the latter seems to be the more dominant trend and that is not the best news. Now, things may be shaken up again and it is going to make some heads hurt.
Earlier this month, WWE ran WrestleMania 36 in as bizarre of a setting as you are going to find for any WrestleMania ever. There were no fans in person and the show took place over two nights instead of one (erg), but the show still had its big moments anyway. Among the various changings of the guard were Otis defeating Dolph Ziggler (which actually shocked me), the Fiend making John Cena disappear, and two new World Champions in the forms of Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre. A lot changed, and it seems that WWE may already be unhappy.
As you may have noticed for the last….oh several years or so, WWE’s TV audiences have been declining at a pretty steady rate. This week’s show was the lowest drawing show for a non-holiday ever and they’re within striking distance of reaching the lowest ever (which took place when WWE ran Monday Night Raw on CHRISTMAS EVE one year). That’s a scary place to be and it’s looking more and more likely that WWE will reach that point in the near future.
Now, as is the case with everything else going on in the world right now, there is a pretty massive, crown shaped asterisk to go with these numbers. The Coronavirus outbreak has caused everything to be throw up in the air, to the point where it isn’t clear how anything is going to shake out at the moment. That is the kind of thing that can make anything scary, but it can also have a silver lining. WWE can easily point to the fallout from the situation and use it to write off almost every negative thing taking place at the moment. It’s a very convenient (as well as acceptable) excuse, but WWE doesn’t see things that way.
See this? Not many people did:
During last week’s first quarter conference call, Vince McMahon was asked about the television numbers being down. As this came just after a question about the Coronavirus, you would think that there would be an easy answer lined up where McMahon could knock it out of the park. However, as is so often the case, McMahon went in a different, and somewhat more questionable direction.
Rather than blaming the Coronavirus, McMahon said that it was more about having new stars as the focal points of Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, plus a lack of Brock Lesnar. Not only did this make my head spin, but it also gave me a very grim view of the near future, especially when it comes to the statuses of the new crop of stars on the show.
Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. Lesnar has not been around for about three weeks, after barely ever being around in the first place. It’s true that Lesnar is a big deal, but when he’s around (on average) once every few weeks, what difference can he really make? He might draw more eyes to a pay per view or a single episode of Monday Night Raw, but Lesnar is a special attraction, not a regular focal point of the show.
It doesn’t exactly instill me with hope about the roster’s future though as Lesnar is always hanging over everyone’s head. Anytime Lesnar is around, he is the top star and goes on his long hiatuses, taking the World Title with him into the deep freeze. Why not having him around for the last few episodes of Monday Night Raw is different than not having him wrestle for months at a time is beyond me, but there are bigger things to get to.
McMahon blaming the new wrestlers for the shows not being as well received does not exactly instill me with confidence, but it doesn’t surprise me either. As of this writing, we have had four Monday Night Raw’s and three SmackDowns since WrestleMania 36. The show aired less than a month ago and these people are already supposed to be over enough to carry the shows?
A star is born:
I can understand the idea of something like that, but it doesn’t help when you have the buildup to WrestleMania featuring Goldberg defeating the Fiend in a short match. Fiend was the first wrestler in a long time to feel completely different and then he just loses to Goldberg clean in a short match. How much long term damage was done to him just like that? WWE likes to hype up the WWE Network so much and then we’re just supposed to forget that Fiend lost to a guy who wrestles about ten minutes a year?
It also has me wondering how long these wrestlers are going to have a chance. Right now WWE has a few interesting stories going on, one of which is Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins. If WWE isn’t happy with what McIntyre is doing (you know, in the four weeks that he has been World Champion in front of no fans and facing newcomers like Austin Theory and Angel Garza), how long do you think it’s going to be before they switch things back to Rollins? Or even worse, back to Lesnar?
I know it might be hard in the short term, but at some point, WWE needs to pick someone and see what they can do. If they fail and people don’t care, then change it up. However, waiting a month, especially under these circumstances, and then going with the same old people who haven’t given you positive results in the first place is only going to get you in more trouble than you were already in.
And that’s iconic:
It comes off as WWE wanting some quick fix to all of their problems. That is completely understandable and something that any company would want over putting in the effort and work, but it doesn’t exactly play out that way in the wrestling world. At some point, these wrestlers need time to find what works for them, or a time to really make everything come together, either by design or by accident.
Consider Becky Lynch, who went from a talented wrestler to a superstar by adopting The Man moniker. It got her over in a heartbeat because everything clicked and she was rocketed to the top of the card based on one pose on top of the arena at the end of Monday Night Raw. She has gone on to win the main event of WrestleMania and is rapidly approaching the modern record for longest reigning Women’s Champion. It’s clear that WWE knows how to make something like this work, so why aren’t they willing to do it more often?
I know this is something that has been ranted about several times before and it will be again, but WWE is going to have to let go of some of these people that they just want to push forever and see what else is out there. Yes it might be rocky at times and some of them will fail, but Lesnar isn’t getting any younger and it’s not like him having at the top of the company for the last several years (yes YEARS) has been that big of a difference maker. WWE has so much talent in the company and it is worth a look to see what some of them can do. You never know what you might find, but there is a good chance you could find an audience.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!