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What is stopping former fans from watching WWE?


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Everything has been stagnant and boring for years and it is entirely the fault of the creative team. Promos should not be scripted and that is probably the biggest problem.

 

I think that is actually the biggest symptom of an even bigger problem, actually.  At some point wrestling moved away from the matches & wrestlers being the draw, and now sells itself on the branding of the pro_duct as "soap opera for men".  This had a trickle down effect on everything else, and that is why everything is how it is now. 

 

The majority of people here like John Cena's work but to a lot of people, he's a symbol of the WWE they don't like.  You could list off like ten cool things WWE is doing now to a former fan but the first thing they'll see is that Cena is still the champ, still the focus, and they'll stay cool with not watching.

 

WWE's in a weird spot with Cena where he's clearly their biggest star and most reliable drawing card but to an outsider, the company will always appear stagnant as long as he's still on top. 

 

Ab-So-Lutely.  This is a byproduct of everything else they have done with the company.  While there is certainly the argument that John Cena is a great worker because of his ability to have great matches repeatedly, at the same time his is also very bland, boring, and corny. 

 

I respect John Cena as a good wrestler, but he has go away heat with me. He's been on top longer then Hogan was, and twice as long as Austin. Stale was what I called him 5 years ago, I have no idea what to call him now.The WWE is going to kill mainstream wrestling because they are scared to death going away from there "working formula".

 

The fact is that Cena is exactly what WWE central casting wants the champion to be, and until they have his replacement ready to go, he isn't going away.  They aren't cycling guys up-and-down the card, because Cena is the "soap opera's leading man". 

 

 

Perhaps the market for watching an elderly man and his spoiled daughter berate middle managers has dried up. 

 

Indeed.  The "Mr. McMahon" gimmick worked, because Austin was a rebellious blue-collar type gimmick, and folks enjoyed seeing him give his boss his comeuppance, and living vicariously thru "Austin vs McMahon".  However, when Vince went from being just an announcer to the brash loudmouth owner of the company that was a total asshole, and NOT FUCKING GOING AWAY, it reminded people that in the end, they can't knock their boss out, and their lives suck, and the rich guy does win.

 

That nothing really means anything any more.

 

Why do I care if someone wins a belt? They don't mean anything, no-one's really worked their way up for one, and they'll just lose it a few months later.

Who do I care if this guy beats this other guy? They're bound to trade a million wins each

Character motivation and consistency is lacking, even when most characters are that generic that they are interchangeable between several others on the roster.

 

People that wanted to see two guys fight were able to get their fix from UFC.  WWE killed their own continuity, and used the excuse that it is "just entertainment" as a justification for it.  Remember when they did the whole "Get it?" campaign?  They were the ones that didn't get it.  People wanted to watch wrestling that was like WRESTLING.  When they turned wrestling into another scripted form of television, it lost what made it wrestling - and that was what the viewer wanted. 

 

And that is an enormous problem - kayfabe being broken right in the middle of a segment on Raw. Why should we invest ourselves in something they constantly tell us is fake? Suspension of disbelief is gone.
 
It all goes back to "A Good Magician Never Reveals How He Does His Tricks".  You can't show folks how you pull a rabbit out of a hat, and expect them to still be amazed by the trick.  Sure, they know you aren't really making that rabbit magically appear, but you don't acknowledge it. WWE is all about telling you that this shit ain't real, and it is just a form of entertainment like HeeHaw or SNL.  Well no wonder no one watches anymore. 
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I remember a day and age when in spite of 300 days a year on the road schedules from back in the day, plenty of wrestlers were smart enough to take time off now and then to "rest their face". Cena has done more than his fair share of jobs but it never costs him his spot. It never costs him anything when a loss never diminishes. 

 

Whatever, I guess. I really wonder if even a clean tap out to Bryan will actually be allowed to accomplish anything. The crowd is ripe, but they were ripe for Punk too.

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Yeah, that.

 

You can't salvage something like that but that isn't so much a WWE problem as it is a "your friends sound like assholes" problem.

 

Yes, they are, for a multitude of reasons. However, the fact remains that they were devoted viewers of Nitro and Raw between 1997 and 2002-ish, which is sort of how I interpreted the question. Maybe "former casual fans" would be a more apt term for where I would consider placing them on the viewer spectrum, since they didn't really follow it too much after Hogan-Rock. Truthfully, I think I can honestly pinpoint Kane's unmasking and Katie Vick as probably the point where wrestling stopped being "cool" amongst our group.

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Is it because dedicated fans of wrestling during the Monday Night Wars era were an especially disgusting group of vermin who failed to hook up and breed the next generation of wrestling fans at a rate similar to the general public?

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I think a lot of fans during the Monday Night Wars were very young teenagers in middle school/high school. Once WCW and ECW closed and wrestling stopped being 'cool', I think the teenagers just moved on to something else and didn't want to be identified as supporting something uncool. In a way, it's almost like a perfect storm that led to so many aspects of the boom period and another perfect storm that led to its end.

 

For me, I was in 8th grade during WrestleMania X-Seven. I remember my friends slowly starting to stop following wrestling not long afterwards. A couple of years later and the only friends I knew that still watched wrestling were the internet fans/hardcore fans like me. And at this point WWE has turned into a soap opera to the point that it no longer seems like a wrestling company and thus doesn't even remotely resemble anything like the fans of yesteryear remembered.

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Interesting stuff in here, though it reads a bit like rose-colored glasses nostalgia for the Attitue Era or Hogan-era. The Attitue Era especially gets misrememberd. Like, everything involving Austin and McMahon awesome. Just about every DX thing was great. Same with The Rock. The rest...not so much and it probably did more to burn out the fanbase than any bad booking.

 

Like, if you spent your teen years watching crash TV and then one day flipped on to see dudes working headlocks you'd probably think the shit sucked. No one is getting naked (well, Bellas aside), there aren't 500 run-ins, titles aren't changing hands back and forth every week. The pacing and the wrestling is probably too lethargic but we saw in WCW what happens when you go too far in the other direction. 

 

Honestly, I think the last 5 years or so has probably had the best week in/week out wrestling the WWE has had in the 20something years I've been watching. A lot of that is simply guys have more opportunities and time to work, but the point still remains

 

How do you bring back former fans or create new ones? Well, what drew in the past? I presume we're looking for the answer to what will create another boon period. Larger-than-life guys in the mold of Hogan/Savage/Warrior and/or larger than life personalities like Austin and the Rock. A strong overwhelming protagonist and a strong antagonist. One hot angle to build the territory around.

 

I mean, they should do more to establish mid-carders (and they're starting to do just that) but at the end of the day the fate of the company rests on the headliner. Just like Shawn/Bret weren't the draws that Hogan/Savage Cena/Orton/Punk aren't the draws the Rock/Austin/HHH are. The best booking in the world doesn't really change that.

 

So, I mean, just like every other company in the history of wrestling, the WWE is literally one guy catching fire and riding that to the top. It'll probably happen eventually, but until then they ride with what they have, which is consistent if not gangbusters.

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Petey, that's an interesting point, and I think at some point WWE is going to have to pick a group of 6-12 yr. olds and say "this is the group we want to keep watching long term" and grow and mature their product along with them. So that that same group is watching at 16 & 24. 

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Honestly I know tons of people who watch wrestling. Kids and teenagers mostly, WWE merchandise can't stay on the shelves around here.   

Is it because dedicated fans of wrestling during the Monday Night Wars era were an especially disgusting group of vermin who failed to hook up and breed the next generation of wrestling fans at a rate similar to the general public?

 

Vermin multiplies far more than the general public, as anyone who has seen Idiocracy knows. 

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I still watch it and mostly enjoy it, though I think both the Nexus and Summer of Punk storylines underwhelmed based on their potential. The Benoit shit also hit at a terrible time, as 2007 WWE was awesome with the best John Cena has ever been. My one suggestion, which I know may be ridiculed, is to almost abandon the face/heel dynamic and let the crowd decide. In that way, John Cena is almost meta. Build the most entertaining characters possible, as that still sells (there's a reason a dude like Money Meawether sells so many fights), but do not worry so much about the exact reaction so long as there is a reaction.

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I think it's as simple as "most people change" or similar. Yes, ratings are lower by most standards, but that's easily just a combination of a slightly less compelling main event than the Austin era and television having a billion channels, and tons of cord cutters going to streaming.

The E is better than its been in 10 years. I watch Raw, ME, and SD every week and buy 75% of PPVs, and have for years. Has every story paid off perfectly? Get over yourselves. No other entertainment property operates in the insane world that pro wrestling does. Year round schedule, no off season, grueling travel lifestyle, constant physical risk to EVERY SINGLE ROSTER MEMBER, etc etc.???

With all that said, a lot of what's been mentioned in the thread is objectively accurate, and some other good theories as well. But it's also a lot of pretentious smarky bullshit pulled straight from 2003. Vince killed wrestling, the Internet killed wrestling, UFC killed wrestling... They're all a little bit true. But everyone is going to miss what rebuilt wrestling while they bitch about some title not meaning anything anymore while simultaneously exalting the late 90s.

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My one suggestion, which I know may be ridiculed, is to almost abandon the face/heel dynamic and let the crowd decide. In that way, John Cena is almost meta. Build the most entertaining characters possible, as that still sells (there's a reason a dude like Money Meawether sells so many fights), but do not worry so much about the exact reaction so long as there is a reaction.

 

Make Zeb Coulter and his faction as entertaining as possible without worrying about how the fans reaction so long as there is a reaction?

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I think a lot of it has to do with the business model of the company and no serious competition. WWE is no longer a wrestling business, but THE wrestling business, meaning they essentially are controlling how guys are scouted, trained, pushed, gimmicks, etc. It's vertical integration, and it's made everything very corporate and sterile, which doesn't really work when you're marketing personalities. Guys aren't allowed to wrestle or talk, it's just make the best you can with 6 minutes, 3 or 4 signatures spots, and your finisher.

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I can't remember who on here said it, and it applies to most promotions (at least the ones I see with TV), and it perfectly illustrated the biggest problem with ProWres today.It was something along the lines of "wrestling shows aren't wrestling shows anymore, but shows about people who put on wrestling shows".

 

When I read over this, I thought it sounded pretty apt, but then I watched Raw this week and it was built around 4 people talking about whether or not the most universally liked wrestler in the company was good for business and how they should market him... It's not too often I'm just watching show and think "God damn, that DVDVR post I read a couple days ago was spot fucking on," but here we are.

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All that said, I would say this is probably the most I've enjoyed WWE in a while. I don't watch it all the time but I was it a lot more than I was in 2009 or 2010 for sure. The 3 hour Raws can be a chore but a blessing at the same time because with all the bad comes a lot of good. Last week's Bryan/Cesaro match is a good example. No way that match happens if the show was back to 2 hours. If you can block out the silliness, it's really not that bad. But that's just me and doesn't really apply to getting ex-wrestling fans/casual fans back into watching.

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My one suggestion, which I know may be ridiculed, is to almost abandon the face/heel dynamic and let the crowd decide. In that way, John Cena is almost meta. Build the most entertaining characters possible, as that still sells (there's a reason a dude like Money Meawether sells so many fights), but do not worry so much about the exact reaction so long as there is a reaction.

 

Make Zeb Coulter and his faction as entertaining as possible without worrying about how the fans reaction so long as there is a reaction?

 

 

I loved Dutch in Memphis, but this gimmick got old fast. Then again, how much different is Colter then Chael Sonnen? I am happy that Dolph seems to have alluded the WWE face character reshaping so far, as he got over by being an arrogant bastard that backed his talk up in the ring. 

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For me, the problem is that WWE seems to be too concerned with trying to keep everyone happy anymore, so they never take any risks. That's why every show feels the same & it's all paint-by-numbers. Don't want to piss off USA, don't want to piss off Mattel, don't want to piss off share-holders, etc. Did you see that ridiculous shit when Swagger & Dutch broke character to say that they're playing characters on a TV show? :wacko:

 

Professional wrestling is not supposed to be what WWE is presenting. It's not supposed to be a circus that has "something for everyone." It's sure as fuck not supposed to be a children's program with anti-bullying campaigns & social media interaction.

 

There needs to be people getting offended. It's the only way to get heat. There needs to be monsters & characters & gimmicks. Who cares if the actual wrestling is good? The only people that care about the actual wrestling are internet fans & a lot of us don't pay for shit. At least not WWE stuff. People didn't buy tickets to Hogan Vs. André because they thought it was going to be a wrestling clinic.

 

Who is John Cena supposed to be appealing to?

 

Just have Brodus Clay come out & break someone's back or something. Say he's tired of the dancing bullshit. I don't know. Just give us someone new that can be seen as a threat then make him an actual threat. How is Ryback a threat? He has lost like every match he's ever been in on PPV. Why should anyone worry about him? Because he slapped a dude in catering? Make the Wyatt family fucking nuts. I mean like, Charles Manson torturing people nuts, to the point that it makes people uncomfortable.

 

Do new stuff with new interactions where it doesn't feel like we're sticking to a script or a formula. Right now, in example, if you see Henry or The Usos you are probably going to see The Shield. You're not going to see The Shield beatdown Jimmy Uso & then get saved by someone random. Even though The Shield beatdown a lot of people & should have beef with them, it's all forgotten because we're doing Usos/Henry this month. Why does Ryback not still hate The Shield? Randy Orton? Sheamus?

 

When I go back & watch old wrestling, Memphis, Mid-South, whatever, the thing that stands out the most to me is that there was legitimate heat. A lot of that has to do with kayfabe being alive but I don't think all of it does. WWE is overexposed right now & that's an understatement. Nothing feels fresh, new or important. Nothing feels like it's "can't miss" or even "I should watch."

 

WWE need to stop making everyone just a normal dude going to work. We, as fans, don't need to see that they're just actors portraying characters & hearing about how they're trending on Twitter. We need to be able to buy into the story. The Undertaker is like a 50-year-old man, with a broken body & eyeliner that thinks he's a zombie but when he comes out, people get hype. It's an experience, it's nostalgia, but people care. Does anyone care when Cody Rhodes comes out? Wade Barrett? Christian? Jack Swagger? Alberto Del Rio? Curtis Axel? Kofi Kingston? Can anyone tell me who any of them just feuded with, if they won their last match or lost it? What their last PPV match was, who they won titles from? None of it matters. How did WWE manage to fuck up The Big Show? It's just surreal. Everything from the show starting with a 15-minute in-ring promo to Michael Cole on commentary to "Did You Know?" It's just...not good. It's too formulaic. There needs to be chaos, there needs to be people asking questions like "what the fuck is going on?" or "who the fuck is that!?" or "damn, you think he's OK?" or "was that real?"

 

Why do we still have on-air authority figures? If there's no brand split anymore, why do we need GMs for both shows? Who has more power? We have Brad Maddox, Vickie Guerrero, Teddy Long, Booker T., Stephanie McMahon, Vince McMahon & Triple H. If Shane McMahon comes back does he have more power than Stephanie? I thought Vince was fired? Does the board of directors have more power than the rest of them? Nothing makes sense.

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It's also a case of two rival promotions catching fire at once with a third league in the distance that had the most loyal audience of the entire group. It also all occurred right when Internet access boomed, allowing fans access to rumors and the gossip mill in unprecedented numbers.

 

It was lightning in the bottle at its peak. What else in pop culture has ever had something to that magnitude? The Beatles vs. Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys w/ someone like The Stones or The Who as ECW? Oasis vs. Blur with Ash in the background?

 

Let's also not forget what was going on in-ring. Stuff was completely insane and never seen before. Think of Foley falling off the cage or all of the crazy chairs to the head or New Jack jumping off balconies. WCW was probably the most controlled of the three leagues and even with that you had the dudes us smarks all loved taking crazy head drops. You had the Dudley Boys doing table spots to elderly women.

 

That era of in-ring stuff was absolutely insane but completely unsustainable. It ended up with guys like Owen Hart, Eddie Guerrero dead and Chris Benoit murdering his family. And lord knows what kinds of other horrible things have happened behind-the-scenes that we'll never know about. I'm glad the WWE has toned down the in-ring style as much as they have -- I like wrestling but I hate the guilt associated with a guy ODing on some painkiller cocktail or knowing I was a Benoit mark.

 

Dudes don't even blade anymore. That's not really a bad thing.

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Imagine you're a 20-something who started watching as a pre-teen/young teen during the Attitude/nWo era. You turn on RAW and see an aged Vince McMahon, doing the exact same shtick he did 15 years ago, with a guy who looks like something Stone Cold Steve Austin would have shit out after a few too many Steveweisers.

 

Why would you keep watching? Or if you are an ex-fan, and your friend tells you to tune in and check out CM Punk or Daniel Bryan. You watch and go "Oh ok, that's pretty cool", but the next segment is two fat guys dancing to funk music. Of course you're going to tune out and not tune back in. Sure, you might DVR and catch CM Punk's segment next week or check it out on YouTube or something, but the WWE has just lost that you as a regular viewer. And eventually, when that hot CM Punk angle devolves into whether or not Kevin Nash sent a text message to someone, you're going to tune out completely.

 

That's why it's smart for WWE to market to kids. I understand the hate for the PG Era in the sense that as adults who lived through the edgy Attitude stuff, it all seems so tame and safe, but marketing to kids is the smartest possible business move for the WWE. Kids have nothing else to do. They are going to plop down in front of the TV every Monday, buy the action figures, buy the shirts, buy the PPVs. Teens and young adults are too unpredictable nowadays because there's too much to do. The second you produce a segment that doesn't interest them you've lost them. They'll be on their phones, on their tablets, online in general on Twitter, Instagram, etc. Or they'll just switch to one of the other 200 channels on their TV and never tune back. Plus, even if you get teens and young adults to buy into your product, they're so technologically savvy that there's no way to really measure how many are watching. It's so easy to stream, download via torrent or just catch RAW on YouTube the next day.

 

Trying to pinpoint the loss of fans to one specific thing will drive you nuts. It's an enormous amount of small things that combine to create that effect.

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I think the idea is the Punk comes across as "different" and "cool" compare to a Cena, Sheamus or Orton.  I'm not getting into whether that is true or not, but I can definitely see the perception.  People who were big fans in the Attitude era would probably love his shooty promos.

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Punk's initial "pipebomb" promo and leaving with the title were the only things I've seen that got former/non fans talking about wrestling since Brock Lesnar's first run. Well... And Benoit too, but obviously I mean for the right reasons.

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