The Hollywood Reporter had an interview with Vince McMahon promoting Wrestlemania XXV, during which he made some noteworthy comments on several subjects, including UFC and MMA, the Triple H-Randy Orton feud crossing the PG limits, the latest Raw rating trends, and TNA Wrestling giving possible future competition.
On UFC and Mixed Martial Arts programming and their impact on WWE, Vince said, "Most people thought at one point that we would be competitors. But it turns out they are not competition to us at all, or hardly at all. They are sport, we are entertainment; it's a huge difference. The revenue they have cut into is that of boxing."
On Triple H invading Randy Orton's home with a sledgehammer:
"Right. What we try to do in situations like that is use things that you can't find around the house. You will never see us use a baseball bat. You don't find folding metal chairs around the house. We are very selective. You can go up to the line.
"It's storytelling; that's how our business thrives. If you have well-defined characters and put them in the right storyline against other characters, people care about their welfare."
On the latest RAW rating trends:
"Quite frankly, our TV ratings have been very good. We averaged over a 4, I think, three weeks ago. Last week and the week before, it was a bit less so because of a number of factors: how many people watched TV and one-off events. What you have to look at is our overall reach in the course of a week. On TV, we reach over 15 million people each and every week, 52 weeks a year."
On rival TNA Wrestling as competition:
"My concern with TNA is not in terms of competition. My concern with TNA is that they are TV-14, and we are PG. They have to change with the times. I think some of the things they do on television are reprehensible, but it is a TV-14 rating. That's the only bone I have to pick with them. Their TV ratings are a fraction of ours."
McMahon also discusses using celebrities at WrestleMania, how the business has changed since the first WrestleMania, how his company has diversified itself, and more.
Now, here's my analysis of Vince's comments on two things of prime importance as far as we, the pro wrestling fans are concerned, namely MMA and TNA.
I think Vince's assessment is that UFC and the MMA circuit is in a totally different direction and do not concern his company or the Sports Entertainment industry as a whole.
But here, I have to disagree with him. I think their effects are not on PPV buy rates or fan attrition or anything, but they are more or less psychological in nature, like when you buy a UFC PPV and as you're watching it, you might think, at least for a moment, are these pro wrestling pay-per-views worth it?
After all, everything is fixed in there, why should I waste my money buying those? This could ultimately result in fans leaving the industry, with them not buying any of the pro wrestling industry including WWE, TNA or RoH.
Here, they are being transformed from Sports Entertainment fans into Action Sports fans which means the entire Sports Entertainment industry is losing its fanbase slowly.
You won't realise it now, but you may, some 15 years later! But by that time, it may become too late.
On TNA Wrestling, I would just say that TNA management should take a good look at those comments and then, instead of dismissing those as anti-TNA comments by a rival promoter, take a look at themselves and ask a few questions..."Why did he say like that? Where are we?" It's more like a reality check for TNA.
TNA may be quite happy with their recent ratings b/w 1.1-1.35 and praise themselves saying we are better than before. They could say they are indeed making small profits out of those PPV buy rates of 25,000-35,000 because they do not incur those huge logistics: transportation and production costs.
Still, if they look at those figures and then look at the records of other companies of past and present, including WWF/E and WCW, they will soon realise where they actually are.
You are having around 25,000 average buy rates and your all-time record is 55,000 buys. Before you claim you are good, if you care to take a look at the fact that your competitor's lowest-ever PPV buy rate was 90,000, that their average buy rates is 200,000-300,000, and that the average ratings of their flagship show is in the 3.6-4.1 range, then...then you realise where you actually are!
Instead of being happy with what they are and what they have, TNA should start doing something to step up their game and do something to set themselves on a constant growth path.
Then, they'll provide some actual competition, which will eventually result in better shows and performances and will ultimately, do a lot of good for the industry as a whole.
I disagree, however, on Vince's views that TNA should follow WWE's path and move on to PG. His comments are obviously directed towards some of the Impact segments like Joe using the knife.
I don't know where he actually got this PG love from, but I'll say one thing, that TV-14 rocks and PG sucks! Just look what we were getting during the TV-14 times and look at what we are getting in these PG times.
I think Vince's core idea is to bring back that golden age of wrestling because being PG will mean that a whole generation of kids grow up watching the product and they'll ultimately become hardcore pro wrestling fans as they grow up. I think that is the real theme of these PG trends.
But then, this PG product also results in a large-scale erosion of hardcore wrestling fans who won't be able to digest the product and will eventually benefit only the MMA side of things and accelerate the journey of this industry towards it's own doom.
By the time those new generations of fans arrive, even this industry may not be there. Perhaps, being in TV-14 is the one real good thing TNA has done and I sure hope they do not take the McMahon advice.