WWE: A Business Like Any Diner or Hospital, It Needs Healthy Food and Patients

Marc MattalianoCorrespondent IIIFebruary 17, 2011


 —ALLEGORY: Similar to the SATIRE articles you've seen, this article is meant mainly to present allegories that symbolize how WWE operates, so while I'm not an insider and I've never worked in the industry, this piece is meant to place emphasis on an obvious aspect or two of the business side of things that many of us tend to forget

This week, I posted an article offering a counterpoint to The Rock's promo on Monday Night Raw, to which many people disagreed.  

I would like to go on record and fully acknowledge the possibility that The Rock's comments towards Miz may indeed be extraordinarily beneficial to The Miz. However, until we see exactly what the fallout of those comments are, either in coming weeks or at WrestleMania, we can't tell for sure.

The predictions I made about WrestleMania 27 at the bottom of my article, though, caught the eye of a man experienced in the industry. Out of respect, I'll leave his name out.

During our verbal exchange, he made the very intelligent point that WWE is a business and its focus is on their bottom line, something I fully acknowledge as well and something that many of us here often forget when saying, "this or that star should be pushed" or, "this or that storyline should go down."

Thinking on that, I came to realize that WWE is a business that's actually run very similar to other businesses.

Obviously, at the core, WWE provides goods and services to paying customers. They provide live entertainment one can enjoy by buying a ticket, they provide special "season finale" type programs in a "pay-per-view" format and of course, they sell t-shirts, foam fingers, bracelets, armbands, caps, hats, necklaces, cups, action figures, etc., both at live shows and in their online store, WWEShop.com.

As a business, they need to focus on their bottom lines in order to continue trudging on into the future.  I absolutely get that.

WWE is actually a lot like a hospital. I'm not a doctor, I've never been a nurse and I've only had one surgery in my life (when I was a one-year-old), but watch ER or Scrubs sometime and you'll learn a lot of profound viewpoints and facts about how hospitals work.

To the naked eye, a hospital looks like a big building full of people trained and educated to heal the sick, ailed or injured. Hospitals look that way, but very often, in order to maintain their bottom lines, they need to make tough decisions.

For instance, someone enters a hospital with a condition easily treatable by said hospital, however after examining them and taking their financial info, they're turned away and referred to another medical facility, because the patient doesn't have sufficient insurance to cover either the medication, tests or procedures to help them.

The people in charge want to save that bed for either someone who can actually pay, or someone they can actually help to raise the stats of how many people they save. It seems insensitive, but while many get into the medical field to "help people," no one can deny it pays really stinking well.

Depending on the severity of that person's ailment, that patient might die. It may be enhancing its rep with the community it serves, but if that hospital gives out too many freebies, it hurts the hospital's bottom line to the point of needing to lay off staff, close down wings, limit their treatment options and eventually, close its front doors and delivery bays altogether.

No wrestling fan would be happy to see WWE fold or even take one of its two weekly TV programs off the air simply because it didn't focus enough on its bottom line.  However, WWE's product is one that those loyal to the brand WANT to consistently return to.

Much like our favorite restaurants! Any of you ever watch that show on FOX, Kitchen Nightmares? For those who haven't, quick background:

Famous five-star chef, Gordon Ramsay, travels all over to find poorly run restaurants that are in desperate need of help. He goes there, orders three meals to see how they taste, observes how the business runs, gives them an honest assessment and sometimes even updates their facilities and lets them go from there.

Sometimes, a place he helps does tremendous. Business really picks up and the restaurant takes off with a brand new outlook and a new start! Sometimes, the place folds and they make the tough decision to shut down.

In many episodes though, the owners (and head chefs) are facing troubling financial situations and have to cut back. You'll very often see Ramsay taking a look in the kitchen's storage spaces, refrigerators and freezers, where he'll find rotten fruit and vegetables, meat gone bad and spices and seasonings that are stale, dead and flavorless.

The same excuse every head chef has in these situations is that they can't afford to restock, or they've gone the opposite route and they've completely overstocked—expecting the inevitably huge rush of customers, only to be stuck with mountains of aging ingredients they can't use.

A guy like Gordon knows. People come into a restaurant every day and take in the product the restaurant puts out. And one thing he stresses in just about every episode is a really simple idea:

Putting in the investment to acquire new, fresh ingredients every day in order to cook all meals right on-site and to prepare a unique, yet reliable, experience that really captivates customers does wonders for the reputation of the company in general. 

NOT putting in that investment however, will cause even those extraordinarily loyal to the company to be turned away at the door by the sheer odor of the bacteria that's growing all over the company's most popular commodities.

In wrestling terms, WWE is a five-star restaurant.

Everyone wants to eat there, and everyone wants to either cook there or even wait tables there. It serves the best sports entertainment there is to offer, in the grandest, biggest and flashiest way possible.

Unfortunately, the best thing on the WWE menu has been there for the past seven to eight years—and really hasn't changed much in the past five or six.

That isn't to say that it's not a good thing to order, or has very little genuine substance to it, it's just not as compelling a meal for WWE to put on a pedestal anymore.

Even the ingredients that go into it have grown mold, been in the freezer for far too long and are in severe need of restocking.

Furthermore, while some meals, like pie, are timeless and can be eaten and enjoyed over and over again by happy patrons, others are not so timeless. Other meals tend to taste better in different contexts, paired with different desserts and beverages and really only capture the hearts of patrons when they're new and flavorful.

Why has this happened?

Because WWE has focused too much on its bottom line to risk the investment to updating the character of its top babyface. The bottom line is important. If bottom lines aren't met, the most creative people on the planet can't write the most heart-wrenching tale of struggle and sacrifice wrestling has ever seen.

But if the only thing that WWE is focused on its bottom line, John Cena's moldy, stale, rotten character will continue to drive WWE until the company has nothing left but warehouses full of orange and purple shirts, and armbands and hats to liquidate on eBay in hopes of breaking even.

If nothing else, The Rock, Stone Cold and DX all received updates to their theme music. John hasn't even gotten that much. Even just a remix of "My time is now," or simply another song off that CD he put out years ago, something else to give him a slightly different approach beyond just "Ya time is up, My time is now."

Ask any doctor. You can keep medicines in the freezer to preserve them, but eventually, they lose their healing power.

Ask any chef. You can store ingredients in a freezer but eventually, the sheer magnitude of the cold renders them unusable.

John Cena has been frozen for at least three years, but he's plenty usable! He can still be fresh and new, but he needs to be cooked with fresher ingredients right away. 

The Rock does a lot of cooking (I've read in history books that people can smell his cooking from miles away). People come from across the country—and sometimes the world—just to smell what he's cooking.

Maybe The Rock can be one of those fresh, yet reliable, ingredients that helps John Cena smell new again.

To reiterate, this isn't to ignore the importance of WWE's bottom line and their income.  It is desperately important.

Sometimes, like a hospital, WWE needs to make decisions that we find disappointing, disheartening and discouraging in the interests of making enough money to keep employed all the other people who entertain us.

However, it is equally important, and should equally not be ignored, that the product the WWE puts out needs to be fresh, inviting, unique, new and prepared on-site every time.

The faces can stay the same, but the drama needs to grow and progress—it can't sit on the counter too long, because what happens when it cools and goes cold?

You can nuke it in the microwave over and over and over, but it won't EVER taste as good as when it was first prepared.

While I am firmly defending my own balanced position on this issue, I do acknowledge fully that companies like WWE can't always make all the people happy all the time.  They often make choices that baffle us, make us scream and drive us to throwing things through glass windows for the only reminder of that precious sound that once made us shiver.

They often NEED to make choices like that to keep themselves afloat.

Holding on to old mainstays like Matt Hardy, and newer repackages like Luke Gallows and Vance Archer, wasn't doing them much good. Selling Nexus and Corre t-shirts?  Likely providing much more of a draw than those three were.

Fact is, going too far one way or too far the other is going to sink them.

If they focus solely on their bottom line and make no change whatsoever, they'll suffer so much from the fear and disappointment of mediocrity, as they watch that bottom line get lower and lower, that they'll be less and less willing to take the risks that made WWE taste so spectacular so many years ago.

On the other hand, if WWE does like TNA does, and focuses far too much on interesting presentation, storytelling, attractions and being more of a spectacle than it actually is, their investments into new talent and approaches will end up burying them in debt.

Like prescription painkillers and pizza, one needs to handle life and business with moderation and respect to both extreme sides of whatever equation one is solving.


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