When it comes to the world of pro-wrestling, World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE, is at the top of the list. They are the top promotion in the world with everyone else coming in at a distant second, third, fourth, and so on. Many try, but no one can compare at the end of the day. This has led to WWE suffering in that success.
For the last number of years, WWE has gradually been dropping in ratings. Some believe it is the lack of stars, others believe it is the lack of good characters and story lines. Whatever the reason, something must be done. WWE has tried to rely on older stars to help them bring in good ratings, but we saw over a week ago that past stars like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ric Flair, and others couldn’t bring up ratings either.
WWE has always said that they know they are doing something wrong when the fans stop watching. The fans have now begun to turn away, which means WWE is obviously getting the message. They have been doing drastic things to bring up ratings from bringing in The Undertaker and Sting to perform during this period to having dream-like matches set up for WWE RAW and SmackDown.
The problem of low ratings has continued and WWE just doesn’t seem to be able to drive up hits, which makes many wonder if it is even possible for WWE to recover in a time where they need to change the most.
There are ways WWE can create a better product. In fact, there are at least ten of them and we chose to give WWE the opportunity to use them. Take a look.
You may first be asking, how can WWE improve ratings with WWE NXT? This is actually a very interesting thing to dive into. When Tyler Breeze made his WWE main roster debut recently on WWE SmackDown, ratings for the show spiked up, allowing them to reach a 2.2 rating on a night that they could have gotten a 2.0 without him.
Meanwhile, when the WWE NXT women in Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks came up, their segment hour also saw a spike in ratings. When Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens fought John Cena for the WWE United States Title or simply had segments with him, those parts drew in ratings.
Proof is right in front of our eyes, yet for some reason very few in management are paying attention to it. Clearly Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are part of those few, as Triple H alone can be called the father of NXT. The problem is Vince McMahon. He is still stuck in his ways and never once saw an NXT show until WrestleMania weekend earlier in the year when NXT worked in San Jose during that weekend.
He has an entire network he can watch NXT on weekly, yet he just saw them then. You can’t even come close to explaining to us how that occurs. The show is also well done on a weekly basis and the wrestlers there are seen as excellent. When they come to the main roster, it seems things die down in terms of how good they are. Is NXT the place where everything shines and then people simply cannot relate to a main roster audience or is it that NXT is doing something right and the main roster shows are not?
Clearly NXT is beloved, so maybe Vinny Mac should take notes from his son-in-law. That might sting the ego, sadly.
9. Three Hour RAW Is Simply Too Much
When WWE RAW first hit television, it was a two hour show. This was more than enough time to draw 4.0s to 6.0s for the show each week during the ’90s, and even into the 2000s. The problem with three hours is that you have to write out a ton of programming.
With RAW being the entertainment show of the bunch, Vince puts out more segments than matches more often than people think. Whether it’s backstage, with the announcers, in the ring…you name it. While match time does end up crossing over the segments in overall time, the segments, while usually okay, are not giving us enough.
The show feels like it drags out. WWE starts a show as hot as they can and end with the best angle they can think of. However, these two markers are only 40 minutes of an entire show.
Three hours has hurt WWE far more than it has helped them since going with it on a permanent basis. At the end of the day, it also really hurts them statistically.
The average show on a Monday night from the 8 to 9 hour gets good ratings on network television. The same can be said for the next hour. WWE also has to compete against sports that can be three hours as well, or longer. Due to them having to go up against certain programs during certain hours, they have lower ratings for an hour here or there.
While getting a 2.2 when your other hours are a 2.8 and 3.0 might not seem like a bad thing, it actually can be an extremely bad thing. That one hour brought you down a number of points.
WWE not only has to extend a show too long where they cannot keep our attention as long as they should be able to, but they are also running into a law of statistical averages which brings them down based on a first or final hour rating nearly half of the time. WWE RAW averaged a 2.9 for 2014. This compared to a 3.1 for 2013.
RAW began to do three hour broadcasts in 2011, that July in fact. The year itself averaged a 3.2. The year after averaged a 3.0. And as we saw above, we have gone down from the 3.2 average. Meaning, there is proof in yearly ratings that fans aren’t into the three hour format and WWE has only been able to make it work out during the WrestleMania period. This is also a time where they face little competition and even then the ratings were lower last year during this time. Clearly we have the evidence to go back to two hours.
8. We Need A Pro-Wrestling Show, Not An Entertainment Show
We get it, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon has dubbed pro-wrestling as sports entertainment and has managed to get away with this among his own peers and those who work for him. However, we know that WWE has a “W” that stands for “wrestling.” We should probably start to use it.
During the Attitude Era, clearly the entertainment segments were present. However, the wrestling was used much more then. The same happened in ECW and WCW, which is why WWE had to compete by having great matches all through the card. Today we see WWE writing for a show that has nothing to do with what they are at times.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that WWE needs to go back to doing what worked for them years ago and write for the wrestling fan. That means more matches and stories within them. In other words, don’t talk about it, be about it.
7. Allow Creative Control With Promos
Does it ever feel like we’re seeing guys say stuff that just doesn’t seem to work? Remember how Roman Reigns was this beast last year that you wanted to see go to the top? Then he just absolutely sucked when WWE forced him into matches with Kane and Big Show and gave him horrible promos to work with.
It ruined what could have been a good singles run to the top for the young stud. Reigns has a lot of talent, but was buried in that time without WWE even meaning to do it. All of this was because he was doing the promos set out for him. Guys like CM Punk never did this; he always did his own thing. He will go down as one of the best promo guys to ever speak into a microphone.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Ric Flair have gone on record as WWE Hall of Famers saying that WWE scripts stuff too much for this generation. They should be allowed more control over their promos and characters. Some, like Bray Wyatt, use this well, while others are held back due to the lack of control.
If you want people to be invested in a character, you should let that person try to connect with their character on their own. They usually do a better job than that group of people WWE calls a “creative team.”
6. Must-See Television
TNA President Dixie Carter continues to tout how TNA does pretty well on DVR numbers but Destination America does not count them. TNA is certainly not the only show that is recorded on a DVR for people to watch later. People are doing it with WWE just as much.
The reason we do this now is because the other shows on television are must-see at the time, WWE simply is not that any longer. WWE used to tell people that they were not DVRable, which was laughable then and is laughable now. WWE has been DVRable since 2009, in fact.
Today, you can miss a show and while you might miss a good match or so, you won’t miss much quality programming that you need to run home to watch. As a kid, I remember running to the television just to catch SmackDown so I didn’t miss a show. Today, I can miss RAW and know my friends aren’t going to text or call me and ask if I saw what just happened.
We might see this for PPVs with WWE, but we surely don’t with their television programming. We should probably change that.
5. Let Us See Who We Want To See In The Right Spots
You ever notice how WWE puts people on television in roles that make no sense? For example, people love Cesaro and he has connected with the fans that Vince McMahon claims he does not connect with. Yet he has to job or lose to someone on TV all the time despite putting on amazing matches with everyone he steps in the ring with.
The man has not held singles gold in over three years, in fact. If not for his ability to work as a tag performer, he may not have held any gold in the last few years. The same can be said for many others. Zack Ryder made himself into something out of nothing and WWE gave him a short run only to kill off all of his momentum and never fully let him get where he could go.
These are just two examples. WWE has done this with countless performers and it led them to going other places to show how good they were. TNA wrestler Ethan Carter III was Derek Bateman in WWE, a man people loved but one WWE didn’t use as much. Then he goes to TNA and blows our minds with how awesome he is there. All it took was a chance and someone letting it ride out.
WWE doesn’t take chances on many anymore. We can say they did with The Shield guys, but they didn’t fully embrace them either. Dean Ambrose has been struggling in the singles world where he was thought to have excelled once the group split. He has had to job to tons of people, including Seth Rollins on numerous occasions.
Instead of allowing people that everyone likes get to the top, we get the political, marketed guys instead. We have to see Roman Reigns over Dean Ambrose because Reigns has the look WWE loves and Ambrose does not. We have to see John Cena and Randy Orton in top spots over Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler because of their look and veteran status. The problem never ends. Allow people the chance to prove they are great. When they do, give them what they deserve.
4. PPV Matches On Television
To be fair to WWE, they gave us one heck of a match to end WWE RAW this past week. This is rare, however. WWE might have one great match on a show and you might get two if it’s a lucky night. The entire show never produces such things consistently anymore. It used to be that we couldn’t miss a match. Now you beg to be behind on time so you can fast-forward through the rest of some matches.
If WWE had pay-per-view quality matches on television each week, you can make the argument that people would want to tune in for a show and continue to stick around through a commercial because they want to know who wins.
This has happened before. There are moments where ratings stick into certain hours due to matches being good during those times. If you can maintain an audience and even build it during a good match now, continue giving us great matches for the whole show and people won’t want to miss a second of the action.
We need to have the feeling with matches that make us say to ourselves, “oh this will be good.” We then should be able to sit back and enjoy with our remote on the table and not in our hand.
3. Edgier Programming
It seems whenever you say “edgy programming” we automatically think The Attitude Era or TV-14 to TV-MA ratings. Clearly this would be interesting to see again in WWE, but it wouldn’t make sense to do. Despite these lower ratings, WWE has never been more profitable than it is now. That is really due to their PG programming.
You can get away with a lot in PG, and edgy ideology can get through those cracks. Shows like Arrow and The Flash are virtually PG despite their rating and continue to bring in great reviews. Stories can have an edge to them without diving into bad stuff like drugs and alcohol and you don’t even need sex or bad language to sell either.
Stories with edge can include kidnapping, beat-downs, and much much more. You would be surprised as to some of the things that censors allow. Heck, even a story about John Cena joining the dark side could get edgy enough for fans to go crazy wondering what will happen next.
A lot can be done with this type of programming, so it is worth considering.
2. A Real WWE Divas Revolution
I swear, if we hear about who started the Divas Revolution on television one more time, I might just lose my mind. This has been the story pretty much, not the girls or the talent they possess. Rather, it’s on who started a revolution that clearly was not started on the main roster anyway.
Isn’t that sad? Meanwhile in NXT, Sasha Banks and Bayley have had two five star classics since this revolution started on the main roster.
NXT proved the girls can do a lot, but on the main roster we’re not seeing it. It’s not on the girls though, but the writing and how the Divas are used there. This is all on them, not the talent. What is so sad is that the main roster has expressed wanting to see Sasha Banks more, but she is seldom used on the main roster for singles matches, and when she is we’re lucky to see it.
Becky Lynch has only wrestled a handful of singles matches on television since the Divas Revolution and I even included her last NXT match in this.
This being said, feature Banks and Lynch more! Work on the stories of the women and what they do. Don’t talk about hair or make-up and for God’s sake, stop talking about who started the revolution as the main part of the story with these women! WWE has a large female audience and needs to cater to it far more than doing random stories with girls that absolutely suck. See NXT for this.
If you wouldn’t talk about the men starting a new wave of things on the NXT roster and introduce them as who they were and what they could do, why should the women be any different? Yes, there is a Divas Revolution. No one cares who started it anymore. We do care what is done with the women during it though, so give us something that matters.
There is hope, we see this with Charlotte and Paige, but who knows anymore.
1. Brand Split
The most successful time in WWE post-Attitude Era has been during the brand split. WWE has had only a soft split since 2010, and by 2011, it seemed that this split was pretty much gone. It is no coincidence that ratings have gone down every year since then, which was explained above.
The brand split added a lot to programming. First and foremost, it made you care about the stars on those shows. SmackDown numbers were higher then and RAW ratings were doing averages of 3.0 weekly, even against football. WWE literally lost around one million live watchers since that time on average compared to today.
I don’t know if you need a better stat line than that to prove the success of the brand split. However, we can dive deeper.
Not only would people get more time to show what they could do, but you would also give people that don’t have an opportunity, well, an opportunity. By having this, stars can emerge.
Keep in mind that John Cena, Edge, Christian, Randy Orton, Batista, and many more all became stars during this split. Chances are, if this never happened, we wouldn’t have the people at the top that we do today.
Proof is there that a brand split would benefit WWE. With SmackDown heading to the USA Network this January, it makes sense to think that USA would want WWE to make SmackDown a must-see show once again. The only way to truly do this would be to have a brand split. This would help both RAW and SmackDown, so there is no way it could be bad. Several jobs would be opened up and everyone benefits from it.