LaBar: Answers to the critiques of WWE's business model
By Justin LaBar
Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 10:42 p.m.
WWE's business has evolved over years, but the same can't be said for all of its fans.
Critique runs wild on WWE. That's the double-edged sword when it comes to wrestling and its fans. There is always an alternative idea, opinion, emotion, but too often it's misguided.
Wrestling at its origin is simple, and for years it was presented in a simple manner: good guy versus bad guy. If you had an appealing look, a character that generated emotion and sold tickets, you were a star.
Today it's not that simple. WWE has added so many aspects of decision-making with the company going public and committing to being an entertainment brand with numerous properties. This is where the problems from fans come.
WWE books to the most casual fan. Those fans never critique because they don't know they can. They turn on WWE as long as they don't have something else to do. They watch and then turn it off. They don't think about it until it comes on the next week.
Then there are fans who are loyal but simple. They haven't figured out there is a world dedicated to wrestling and critique on the Internet. To them, WWE.com is the only website that exists. These are the same people who write those tweets that appear on WWE's #RAW scroll at the bottom of the screen such as:
“OMG @RandyOrton vs @JohnCena. This the biggest match in the history of #RAW #BestForBusiness”
Finally, there are those who never miss an episode, never miss a rumor online and usually are the least happiest for the most amount of time. WWE already has their money. For them, wrestling is like an addiction. No matter whether they see positive or negative in it, they keep coming back for more.
It's partially for this reason that WWE listens to this portion of the audience the least. The other reason: This part of the audience is so blinded by their addiction that they don't understand the evolutional elements in WWE's business.
I'll explain some of them.
Some fans respectfully will understand what I'm explaining despite not liking it. Others are drowning in the ocean of wrestling unhappiness.
Critique: Here is my card for how WrestleMania should go and the matches.
Why it won't work/happen: You can't have a stacked card. Not every match can be a blockbuster. It doesn't matter whether it's WWE, TNA or an independent wrestling show at the local high school gym. You need to have matches that don't require much energy or thinking. The audience needs to be taken on a ride. Start hot with emotion and bring them down at some point. Let them rise back up and drop back down just before the big finale of the main event. If every match is 100 mph, by the time you get to the main event, people are exhausted and give your big names less reaction. So all of the money and time invested in the main event is wasted.
Critique: They should just insert this guy here and that guy here in the storylines.
Why that's not so easy: We're all guilty of fantasy bookings in our heads. Unfortunately, there are more factors than anyone knows except for those involved in the decision making. Perhaps a certain wrestler has something in their contract that promised them a particular storyline or booking. One wrestler might not want to work with another. Perhaps there is a lot of money that just went into a wrestlers licensing and merchandising. Perhaps there are already too many guys with a certain physical feature in big matches, so we have to wait until we can use more guys with similar features.
WWE is an entertainment company and operates like a movie studio. Being able to wrestle is like being able to act. Everyone meets the basic bar. There are endless other factors of appearance, politics, money, merchandise and more come into play.
Critique: Wrestler “A” is such a better worker than wrestler “B,” but he doesn't get used as much.
Why it happens: There are wrestlers who can do 100 moves if given the time. Matches can move quickly with a lot of near falls. This has become lumped into a certain style known as the indy style. WWE only wants so much of this. If everyone on your show can work these type of matches, all of the sudden it doesn't mean anything.
WWE produces entertainment that happens to have a wrestling ring as its main stage. Emotion, facials and characters are what it's centered on. If guys are moving too fast, how do you stop and grab emotion? How do we get a camera shot of what someone is feeling? How do you sell a roster full of guys who all move at the same warp speed?
Critique: Wrestler “B” is used more only because he has a big body look. I'm so tired of WWE wanting only guys who have a bunch of muscles.
Why it happens: Remember, WWE books to the most casual person. They know they have the money of the addicts. They want to grab mainstream attention. They want someone new to tune in. If the casual viewer is flipping through the channels, you have to think about what is going to catch their eye and make them keep the channel on. This is specific right now to Batista. Like it or not, it makes sense from a WWE business standpoint. The addicts might not think anything of it because they consume wrestling daily on all mediums. To the average person, it's a unique and interesting sight. And of course, if someone like a Batista is going to be in a mainstream Hollywood movie, well, now he adds even more power to getting those people to stop on WWE programming.
Critique: Zack Ryder isn't being used at all. If WWE isn't going to use him, just release him so he can go to TNA or the indies.
Why he isn't released: WWE would rather let a guy's contract run out than grant him an early release. If WWE gives him an early release, it can be unnecessary buzz and conversation that isn't positive for WWE. If WWE gives him an early release, it allows someone like Ryder to make money for another company. It also speeds up the ability for someone like Ryder to start doing interviews where he doesn't have to speak and walk the company line. He can start doing what is known as “shoot interviews” and potentially talk negatively about the company or the people in it. It's worth more to WWE to pay these guys their guarantees versus releasing them early.
Critique: WWE only cares about the kids. All the PG content and cheesy characters is annoying.
Why it happens: The money is in the kids. The parents will spend money on the kids. The kids want John Cena, who is the ultimate super hero to them. They want Rey Mysterio because he looks like a super hero, as does Sin Cara.
WWE catered to the kids in the 1980s when so much of the now addict generation of fans were kids. As that generation became teenagers, WWE catered to them with the Attitude Era. WWE got their growth and money out of those fans. They got them hooked for life. Now they are back to the kids and try to get those kids hooked for life.
Critique: LaBar, why do you get paid to talk about wrestling? I don't like you or what you say.
Why it happens: Because you keep reading, and you know I'm right.
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