Since the summer of 2008, WWE programming has been governed by a fairly strict PG-rating that has proved unpopular among a number of existing fans.
Though some criticism aimed at the product may be slightly over the top, it is undeniable that the company has adopted something of a more civilized approach towards its programming—the outlawing of blood and chair-shots to the head being two prime examples of this.
But for those craving a return to the more violent and risque days of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras, now may be the time to look away.
The company are supposedly looking to create an even more family-friendly product, as reported by WrestlingINC.com:
“WWE is planning a specific initiative to gear up to promote their product harder with kids and families. Specifically, they are looking at new ideas and initiatives to make the WWE brand stronger with mothers and their children.”
It is also noted that WWE are looking to hire a new Vice President of WWE Kids Entertainment, suggesting that further increasing their appeal to the younger audience is right at the top of the company’s list of priorities.
First off, I’d like to suggest that expecting a return to a TV-14 rating anytime soon would be naïve.
Targeting a younger audience and their families is far more profitable for Vince McMahon, while it also makes sense in the long-term as it builds a whole new base of fans for the company to retain.
But that being said I still find this recent news somewhat surprising from the WWE.
The WWE is already very heavily oriented towards kids and families, with the likes of babyfaces John Cena and Sheamus proving testament to that.
So in my eyes, to add an even greater emphasis to this family-friendly push seems to be a case of merely putting off a problem rather than rectifying the root cause.
The problem that the WWE faces is growing up, in that the “PG” audience that they catered to five years ago are now becoming teenagers and young adults—an age at which wrestling is unfortunately no longer deemed to be “cool”.
As noted by former world champion Edge in a recent interview, the WWE used to be “cool with the college crowd”—guys from around the age of 18 to their mid-twenties.
However the introduction of a PG-rating, plus the emergence of a partially-similar alternative in the form of MMA, alienated those fans and caused them to lose interest and stop following professional wrestling.
And now that the younger audience WWE replaced this “college crowd” with are also approaching a similar age, the company is in grave danger of losing these fans just as they did with the generation before.
While targeting a new wave of youngsters seems to rectify this issue in the short-term, aren’t the WWE just going to run into the same trouble in another 5-10 years when that audience also grows up and loses interest with an increasingly juvenile product?
Is a more family-friendly product the right move by the WWE?
In my mind, the WWE may be better off looking to evolve and mature alongside their current audience rather than looking to secure new fans and risk losing many others.
As mentioned earlier, targeting a younger audience is an effective long-term strategy but only if the company then retains those fans instead of allowing them to move on like many fans of old did.
By targeting a whole new wave of young fans, the WWE are essentially put themselves right back to square one.
Once again I’d also like to stress that I’m not suggesting a return to the Attitude Era, as I think something like that will never be reproduced to the same standard—such was its uniqueness.
But by blending the often overly-cheesy babyface stars such as Cena and Sheamus with more edgy content such as the infamous Summer of Punk, or the intense Brock Lesnar feuds that we have been treated to over the past ten months, then perhaps the WWE will find a more sustainable and successful solution.
Of course, I’m sure Vince McMahon knows better than I do what he’s doing, so perhaps this decision will indeed pay off in the long run and help secure the WWE’s prolonged prosperity.
But what do you guys think of this news?
Is it a call that you agree with?
Or do you think a different approach would be more advisable?
Comment below with your thoughts on this matter, and let me know of any opinions you may have on any of the issues bought up in the article itself.