WWE: Rewriting the Equation and Splitting the Difference
Allow me to kick off this article by explaining the title.
WWE used to stand for "World Wrestling Entertainment." That is no longer the case, however. That said, I think it's fair to argue that the WWE nowadays focuses on "Entertainment" more than wrestling. In some ways I don't mind, but the truth is I like to look at things from the standpoint of a businessman, and as such I see untapped potential in a new initiative that the WWE could undertake.
The initiative takes away from an old phrase involving "the asylum" and "the inmates." Now, oftentimes people say it's not good to let the inmates run the asylum. The word "asylum" makes me think of one in particular: Arkham.
Arkham Asylum has been the topic of discussion with the Batman: Arkham games, which brings me to a point I'd like to make. When things are running fine, Arkham Asylum is pretty safe. It's still a madhouse, but there's a sense of security that pervades the day-to-day activities that go on within its walls. That's what you get when the guards run the asylum.
The same can be said for the WWE with Vince and his yes-men and go-fers running WWE. It's like Arkham when the guards are in control. It's safe, it's clean, it's got that sense that something can happen, but there's an even greater sense that—because everyone has everything taken care of—nothing of note will happen.
In both instances, the establishments (Arkham/WWE) are rather boring.
On the other side of the fence however...when the INMATES are running Arkham, things tend to get very interesting. I mean, we will rarely read a comic book about Arkham Asylum unless something interesting is going on there—an escape, a takeover, a kidnapping, etc. Any number of things can happen in Arkham, depending on which of the inmates is in charge, and I believe if the WWE were to allow its inmates—I mean, superstars, or rather former superstars—to run the madhouse known as the WWE, then we'd find ourselves with a much more interesting product.
Who makes things more Interesting?
Edge, John Morrison, Kharma, Matt Hardy and Trish Stratus.
What do all of these people have in common? Well, don't spend time guessing, because I'm going to tell you now.
All of them are former WWE stars that excelled in at least one thing. Trish Stratus and Kharma were great female workers, Hardy was a tag team specialist, John Morrison was the most athletic superstar to step in the ring in years, Edge was able to play both a heel and an anti-hero to perfection and his mic-work was second to none.
As of now, WWE has a lot of legends working in the background...but I think it's time for an overhaul. There's a power-shift going on backstage, and I think it's time for a new set of guys to come in and take over. Vince's team has been at this for long enough, in my opinion. They've had a good run, but it's time to let the new generation take the reins.
Imagine, a new backstage atmosphere. The former inmates running the asylum. They're guards now, but they know exactly what the new inmates are in for and they know how to help them. Imagine a creative team that's not only composed of new writers from various avenues, but a creative team that's getting input from guys like Edge and Hardy.
Imagine Kharma and Trish, down in FCW, teaching the women (and yes, even the men) how to run the ropes and how to carry yourself confidently as you stride down to the ring—and how to build chemistry with someone when you work with them. Imagine John Morrison training the newest breed of high-flying superstars, teaching them how to contort their bodies and use the ring in ways never thought of before.
Would splitting the promotion and organization up help or hurt the product?
These are just names that have come off the top of my head, but I honestly think with new head trainers in the FCW, a new creative team and input from some of the best to ever get in the ring, things can only improve.
It even may not need to be former superstars (my reasoning for that was the potentially harmful creation of a new Kliq). JTG and John Cena are said to be very well-liked and helpful backstage. Why not have one of them be the new Executive VP of talent relations? Punk and Truth are allowed to ad-lib some of their lines—perhaps they could serve on the creative team or help teach some of the FCW stars the finer points of working the mic.
Zack Ryder was plugging social media in the WWE before it was cool, so you've got an in-house, social media ambassador. Tyson Kidd is probably the best technical wrestler in the WWE, so he could easily be placed in charge of teaching that (with Ziggler and/or Bryan as assistants). The WWE has so much talent on its roster, though it could be argued they're half as effective as they could be, but with more responsibility that could change.
Of course, that leads me to mention that this is only half of the equation. The other half of my proposed initiative involves the severing of the bonds between WWE (the company) and WWE (the promotion).
Vince's habit of trying to break into the mainstream, while also handing over sole ownership of his grapefruits to his wife, has put a damper on the WWE for some time now. Time and time again, we're reminded WWE is more than a wrestling promotion. But if that's the case, why keep them attached at the hip?
Where do you think Linda keeps Vince's grapefruits?
What Vince could do is distance the promotion from the company which would focus on programming and other outlets of making money such as WWE Studios (not that it makes money, but you get my point).
While Vince creates a new infrastructure in the company he can financially back the promotion, but aside from that, WWE would have no real interaction with World Wrestling Entertainment. It would have its own independent infrastructure, with the only caveat that, just as Vince has to make a quarterly report, so does the president of World Wrestling Entertainment (for now, let's say it's Undertaker.)
He has to show Vince the promotion is turning a profit, bringing in ratings, and selling merch and PPVs. If not, Vince decides the fate of World Wrestling Entertainment. If all goes well, they get money and are allowed to continue as they see fit. They could work on a talent exchange with New Japan if they wanted. WWE would be allowed to use its stars for its movies, if the star wants (he's under no actual obligation).
This actually works well for all parties involved. Vince can relax, Linda can distance herself from the WWE, fans get to see a whole new show. I think this would also be a good time to consider unionizing, but that's talk for another time.
My idea for the WWE is very radical. However, there's never risk without reward. To paraphrase a wise man "these are dire times—dire actions are needed." That sums up the WWE, in my opinion. Dire times require dire actions.
So, that brings me to a simple question. If you had a choice between playing Batman: Arkham Asylum in a scenario where the guards are in control or one where the inmates are running the place, which would you choose to play?
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