7 Inevitable Happenings in the WWE's Short Term Future
Raw's 1000th episode may have been a show designed to celebrate the WWE's landmark achievement, but the company also used the event to set up important changes that will define future development.
Some of these changes are obvious, such as the installment of AJ as the new general manager and CM Punk's heel turn, but other trends that are going to be prominent have also suggested themselves.
This leads to a cause and effect situation that could have long-term ramifications on the WWE's product that the company had not intended.
Here is a list of 7 inevitable happenings that will come to pass over the next few weeks.
A Heel Faction Forms Around a Charismatic Leader
The second Vince McMahon declared that the new general manager of Raw was to be AJ, a strong heel faction was going to come through, as this is a classic wrestling set up.
AJ has become a powerful authority figure who is looking for love and can be easily swayed by people's opinions. A charismatic leader who can steal AJ's heart will automatically become the strongest person in the company.
A group of vocal supporters who can shout down or beat up opposing viewpoints will add strength to the leader’s position while helping their own careers. It is a perfect set up for a heel group to come to the fore and dominate.
Adding to the intrigue is AJ's slightly unhinged persona. This allows the WWE's creative team to have her make evil decisions believing them to be right and just, so she can come across as a sympathetic figure if the WWE decides to go in that direction.
Whoever the leader is, as well as that person's closest allies, will get a lot of attention over the next few months and this could make or break their careers.
Long Tag Team Matches Will Be the Dominant Type of Contest
This is a subject that many fans in the WWE will already be familiar with, but this issue will get a lot more attention over the next few weeks as it becomes more noticeable.
Whether this becomes a good or bad thing for the WWE depends on the quality of wrestling on display and who is included in the matches.
The quality could be quite easy to find as there are many talented in-ring performers on the current roster. Many have failed to get over with the crowd though, so it will be a challenge to see if they can establish themselves as a noticeable force.
The WWE may take inspiration from the New Age Outlaws by placing a very good wrestler with poor mic skills with an average wrestler who oozes charisma. This might lead to the rejuvenation of the tag team division, which would be great for the fans and the WWE.
The more likely course of action, if recent weeks are a good indication, will see the WWE throw men from two separate feuds into a tag match and expect them to put on a great match.
This will make the quality of these matches wildly erratic as the different combinations will have little chemistry. Bookings like this will also keep the tag team division away from the limelight and stall the progression of some talent.
Only time will tell what success comes from the decision but these long tag team battles will be there.
Seemingly Random Wins Will Happen Surprisingly Often
Tyson Kidd defeats Tensai
The WWE's decision to have only face champions (and John Cena as Money In The Bank winner) at the 1000th show meant that the heel side of the roster has been all but decimated.
CM Punk has gone over to that side, The Miz returned and claimed the Intercontinental belt for the heels and Wade Barrett is to return shortly, but that is about it for credible heels at this time. Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler have lost too many times to be seen as a genuine threat while Jack Swagger is a glorified jobber.
The rebalancing of good and evil needs to be addressed but the lack of face characters in the midcard makes it difficult to promote heels into the main event. R-Truth, Kofi Kingston and Christian can only build up so many people while Santino and Sin Cara do not possess the credibility to get someone over.
Therefore, strange and seemingly random victories will occur to re-establish the hierarchical system needed to promote talent up the card. Likely victims may well be Brodus Clay, Kane and Daniel Bryan, but that is something that fans will be able to determine in the future.
Rock's Return Will Weigh Heavy On Storylines
Building anticipation may be a great way to sell more pay-per-views in the long run, but artificially stunting potential feuds does take away from the excitement of other feuds.
As soon as Christmas becomes a advertising reality, fans of the WWE will start to think about The Rock's return and who will get the chance to face the "Great One." This will mean months of speculating over who will be the champion who faces the Rock and when "The Great One" will return.
This will spoil the chance for long term feuds developing over the WWE championship because fans will always have one eye on The Rock's return, and those involved in a sustained story can be ruled out of the WWE championship picture entirely.
As seen in the Kane vs Cena program at the start of 2012, fans who know a feud is unlikely to go anywhere will quickly get frustrated by the filler. That type of feeling could permeate over several feuds at the same time until the challenger to The Rock is announced.
This will leave the WWE in a difficult situation, as longer running feuds have been an increasingly prominent part of the WWE's programming since the start of 2012. It would not be surprising to see a challenger announced by Survivor Series, as the problem of fans' expectations weighs the whole company down during the difficult Monday Night Football period.
Social Media Overload
Raw 1000 introduced 'Raw Active’ to the WWE universe.
The WWE might describe this new promotion as a way that the fans can influence the action while getting special messages from WWE superstars and sharing this around the world, but the reality is that 'Raw Active' is a desperate attempt to increase live viewing figures.
The ever-increasing use of DVR recordings and Internet downloading means that people can view the WWE's programs at their convenience and not when the show is necessarily on. This does have a big effect on ratings, which are critical for the WWE's advertising income.
Allowing fans to interact live via social media forces fans to view the program as it is being aired, therefore ratings should improve.
This is a great idea when properly mediated and it might even have an effect over the next few weeks; however, the WWE does tend to go overboard with these plans. Some fans felt it to be too overwhelming over the wrestling at Raw 1000, but this is a trend that is only going to increase.
Expect Twitter and Tout addresses to run through the screen like a breaking news story and random comments from viewers to be dropped into commentary. The distinction between social media and WWE television may be difficult to tell in the coming months.
Drop In Viewers In The US (after The Initial Surge Of Interest)
The WWE can expect four to six weeks of higher viewing figures due to Raw 1000 as old fans will have reconnected with the some of the faces of their youth and new fans, caught up in the excitement of the big occasion, will want to see if the entertainment level can be maintained.
Yet when September comes along the viewing figures will drop more than normal.
It is expected for Raw to drop ratings at this time as the show goes up against the returning sitcoms, Monday Night Football and the baseball playoffs. However, the inclusion of so much social media filler this year could make more fans turn away from watching WWE programming live.
Clearly these polls and comments are also a form of advertisement that will start to play a major role on WWE television which will annoy some of the fan base.
In fact, there is a good chance that most people will not care about the polls anyway or believe them to be manipulated by the WWE, as seen by the storm of twitter complaints when the WWE stated the people had said yes to the Cole verses Lawler match when most seemed to go online to say no.
This skepticism could, somewhat ironically, drive people towards the recording option as they could skip through filler and concentrate on the in-ring action, and that will make the overnight ratings fall significantly.
Increased Social Media Disastrous for International Ratings
As bad as it may be for some US fans to be inundated with different social media messages from WWE programming, at least it is happening when most Americans are awake.
European and African markets are being flooded by these messages in the early hours of the morning.
Most WWE fans in those areas will record the show and watch it back the next day, so all the live interaction is pointless to them anyway.
It may even effect some fans sleep, as mobile devices are often connected to e-mail and social media sites and alert the user when they receive a new message.
Hardcore fans may remember to turn phones and pc's off at night, but less certain fans may decide to unfollow the WWE rather than change their settings.
These messages also form to become an ultimate spoiler list for those fans who may want to use their device for other things. There is always a danger of overhearing a result, but the sheer amount of messages makes it all the more likely.
The situation becomes even more confused when a vital piece of information is revealed on a format that is not used or allowed in the other country.
Add to this the factors that are going to hurt American ratings, and the chance of a mass exodus of international viewers is very high.