No television show is safe forever.
Even insanely long running soap operas like Guiding Light and As the World Turns ran for over 50 years each, but inevitably met their end.
WWE recently hit the landmark 1,000th episode. Is it possible they won't make it to 2,000?
We're 19 years away from Raw 2000, and a lot can happen in that time.
Nineteen years ago in 1993, we still had WCW and ECW (then known as Eastern Championship Wrestling), we were still years away from the groundbreaking NWO and the Attitude era.
Raw was only one hour long then, there was no Smackdown, and it was a crazy time when there was only one World Champion.
This isn’t meant to be a "sky is falling" scenario. There's no reason to panic. WWE is doing good business, and most likely will for years to come.
However, if a variety of factors don't change, these are reasons why WWE may not make it to Raw 2000.
At this point, WWE has invested a lot of money in a giant television venture that may never happen.
Originally, the WWE network was supposed to debut at WrestleMania this year. They’ve missed that mark by months with no further update of when we may see it.
Maybe it will happen in November of this year. Maybe not. It's looking more likely it may air in 2013.
Investors are leery about the network, as well as the overall profitability of the company. In the last two years, WWE stock has gone from $18.64 per share to $7.86.
Even if the network does get off the ground, they’ll still have plenty of hurdles to jump over.
Just look at Oprah’s network. She has a much more friendly brand name, and an infinite number of connections in the industry. Her network is sinking, though.
Can Vince McMahon really do any better?
His outside ventures: the World Bodybuilding Federation, WWE (movie) Studios, and most notoriously the XFL don't give a lot of comfort.
Vince McMahon has been wildly successful in pro wrestling, but outside of it, his attempts at mainstream success haven't caught on.
Also, if the network launches, will we simply get tired of wrestling?
Of course, there will always be a fan base for new wrestling, but some fans might just get their weekly fix watching an old episode of Raw or Nitro.
Either way, the network is a big gamble.
Raw 1000 was a great show, but it was clear that the future of the company isn't looking as bright as some previous eras.
On the landmark episode, the only new talent really showcased was the cartoonish gimmick of Damian Sandow. He’s talented, but fans aren’t really going crazy over him.
The product has no edge, there’s no new concepts or angles that have really grabbed the public’s attention in recent memory.
CM Punk's shoot promo didn't lead to an increase in ratings, Brock Lesnar's return didn't either.
Besides the addition of HD, the overall product has had the same look and feel for years. It's been stale for too long.
As much as people tend to hate movie reboots, WWE could learn a lesson from them.
They don't need to rewrite their characters with new back stories. They don't need to start from the beginning. What they could use is a change.
Remember that after the ridiculous Batman and Robin film, we got Batman Begins when a new creative team took over.
Trying to shake things up may be risky, but it could pay off by giving fans who quit watching another chance at tuning in. They may even latch onto something new that resonates with American pop culture again.
Vince McMahon is 67 years old, and by his own admission, he gets four hours of sleep a night.
Maybe he should take more naps.
Vince has always been a little eccentric, but it’s been reported that he’s blowing up behind the scenes more often than ever.
He continually mocks JR on his own TV show.
He said that he’ll die in the chair, which means if he keeps losing his marbles, we could be in for a strange 10, 20 or 30 years!
The WWF Attitude era is generally agreed to have ended around 2002.
In the past 10 years which big stars have been created in WWE?
I’d argue six: Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, Edge, Batista and CM Punk.
One of those six stars, Lesnar, spent the majority of his time not in the company. Cena alienates half the crowd. Batista quit. Edge was forced into early retirement, and Orton and Punk are solid fan favorites, but nowhere near mainstream recognition.
What is damaging to WWE is that in those 10 years, many of the stars of the Monday Night War era have disappeared: Rock, Austin, Goldberg, Hogan, Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, Jeff Hardy, RVD, Undertaker, HHH, Eddie Guerrero, Booker T, HBK and Edge are no longer in the company or on a very part-time basis.
That’s a huge loss, and a lot of names to replace, but WWE has invested in only a few guys to replace them.
It's the company's own fault, as time and time again they've chosen to play it safe instead of taking a chance on someone new.
They've also pulled back on the pushes of guys like Kofi Kingston and Christian which damages their drawing power in the future. Others like Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and Cody Rhodes have been languishing in the mid-card for years.
Fans keep clamoring for new talent. It's time for WWE to get serious about it before it's too late.
It looks ever more likely that once Vince McMahon is gone, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon will be in control of WWE.
That’s a scary thought.
First off, Stephanie is a big fan of hiring former soap opera writers who have no history in wrestling (or even watching wrestling) to the creative team.
Soap operas and WWE are a completely different beast.
Though the two may be compared in a rough storyline sense, daytime soap operas don't rely on trying to convince people to come out to their shows in order for the program to survive.
Second of all, HHH isn’t really the hippest guy in the room.
He doesn’t seem to have a grasp on pop culture, and often resorts to lazy mugging for the camera and tired jokes when he is on TV.
He's also been known to get behind his friends (like Sheamus), and push himself at the expense of other talent.
Outside of the ring, he's already made a big mistake while referring to UFC this way:
"I think if anybody needs to evolve, it's them.”
If Hunter truly believes that UFC, and not WWE, is the one who needs to change, then we could be in for a rough future.
Despite what Hunter says, UFC is doing just fine.
The Ultimate Fighter and UFC televised specials have so far drawn disappointing numbers, but their pay-per-views still rake in millions of dollars with the right lineup.
In a direct comparison between the two companies, UFC crushes WWE in a pay-per-view match up.
If a WWE fan pays $50 to watch a UFC show, what are the odds they’re going to want to drop another $50 to watch WWE the following weekend?
Sports bars across the country are often packed when a UFC show is on. WWE doesn't bring in that same crowd. Many places have quit showing them altogether.
WWE does have some advantages over UFC like being able to predetermine their winners and match lengths. But many fans have left WWE altogether and moved onto the octagon.
Teenagers have quit watching Raw in droves.
That’s a troublesome sign, which means WWE may be able to get kids hooked on wrestling with John Cena, Santino and Hornswoggle, but once those kids turn 13, the show seems lame to them and they might never come back.
Why would USA (or any network) pay millions of dollars for wrestling every week when they could plop in a CSI rerun and draw the same rating?
The Attitude era ratings were completely unsustainable, there’s no way that the nearly 10 million people watching during the Monday Night War were going to stick around.
Wrestling in general though has never recovered since WCW folded. While their ratings weren’t as good as WWE, there were millions of fans out there who didn’t make the switch over.
It’s not beyond believability that WWE could dip into the mid 2.0s consistently within the upcoming years.
If that happens, there's no telling where the show may end up.
Three hours of Raw, two hours of Smackdown, Superstars, a new show on ION soon, and their new Saturday morning series.
Does anyone need that much wrestling?
At the least, WWE desperately needs to do something about their talent appearing so often on television.
Many fans have grown tired of John Cena in the main events. It can be argued that Hulk Hogan was spotlighted as the face of the company for even longer than Cena has been.
That’s absolutely true, but with one gigantic difference:
Hulk Hogan wasn’t on TV every single week.
John Cena has been the top guy in WWE for over six years. He’s been on virtually every Raw, except when he’s been injured or filming a movie.
That means we’ve seen him hundreds of times in hundreds of different matches. There’s no one else to feud with, that’s why we just saw him have another go-around with the Big Show, another match with CM Punk at Night of Champions and he just wrestled The Miz for the 400th time on Raw.
Even worse, with the brand split apparently over, guys like Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio usually show up on both Raw and Smackdown. They're overexposing them twice as fast.
On top of the weekly shows, WWE has had 12-14 pay-per-views a year for the last 15 years. There used to be four.
In the '80s and '90s, if you wanted to see Hogan wrestle, you had to pay. You either had to go to a show or buy the pay-per-view. Seeing the top guy was the exception, not the norm.
Today's roster is completely overexposed, and some guys need a break from TV before fans get sick of seeing them for good.
Just a few questions I'm going to throw out there from the past couple of years:
Why is there a brand split anymore? Why are there two world champions? How was Hornswoggle the anonymous GM? Why did John Cena say that Big Show could have stopped him from pinning John Laurinaitis? Why did Kevin Nash text himself from Triple H’s phone? What was the Nexus' greater purpose? Why didn’t Vince McMahon do anything to the Nexus after they put him in a coma? If Santino can't control the Cobra, why does he even wear the sock? How did Santa Claus give Hornswoggle the power to talk? How did they get a camera inside of Stephanie McMahon’s dream?
At a time when the American public is obsessed with reality-based television, WWE has gone back to goofy gimmicks and poor attention to story details.
In the short term it may not be a big deal, but long term, it’s damaging to not treat your own program with consistency. It shows a lack of respect to your own audience.
Fans love shows like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones because they have characters with consistent logic, and story lines that actually have pay offs.
You can even go back and look for clues and guess what's going to happen.
WWE doesn't do that. You could have watched every episode of Raw that the Anonymous GM was on and never known it was Hornswoggle. There was no evidence. WWE didn't care enough to think of a satisfying conclusion.
If WWE doesn’t take their own programs seriously, why should fans be expected to pay $50 a month to watch a joke product?
Believe it or not, fans thought they’d never see WCW go under.
Sure, they went years without making money in the early '90s, they had incompetent bookers, and they were always in the shadow of the more popular WWF.
But they had a their secret weapon: Ted Turner.
Ted was at the helm for years, and he didn’t care if the company was losing money. Wrestling helped build his empire, and he stayed loyal to it no matter what.
Times change, though. Business changes.
Turner was ousted from power from his own company when AOL merged with Time Warner.
He lost WCW, the Atlanta Braves, and in the end billions of dollars. There was no one to save WCW from their mistakes now.
In a little over three years, World Championship Wrestling went from being the hottest, most watched wrestling show on earth to going out of business.
Don't get me wrong, WWE will probably be in business for years. But if you look at the history of wrestling, the continued long-term success of any company is far but guaranteed.