Even though WrestleMania ended a few days back, the aftermath is far from being over.
There has been a tremendous amount of ranting about WWE and WrestleMania in particular. We have seen articles ranging from “Has Vince McMahon Gone Senile?” to “Is John Cena Killing the Business?”
There has been massive uproar against WWE calling itself a sports entertainment company, instead of a wrestling company. A new reader of IWC might even think that this industry is nearing its demise.
Therefore, I have decided to take a look at several issues plaguing WWE. In addition to it, I will be analyzing Vince McMahon in what would be the most important part of this article. Following are the four focal points of this article.
- 1. Sports entertainment vs. Wrestling
- 2. WWE’s decay – a result of sociological changes
- 3. John Cena – a victim of circumstances?
- 4. Vince McMahon – An analysis of a greedy tycoon and a legitimate legend
I'm not an optimist who floats in clouds with fairies dancing around, neither am I a pessimist who would whine for no reason. I will therefore analyze all my points from a purely rational point of view.
Let us proceed.
I have failed to see the hype with this announcement so far. Let's be honest—WWE has never been about pure wrestling, not even in the golden age. Therefore, if they accept it publicly, there should not be so much of an issue.
It will be interesting to see the clear distinction between wrestling and Pro Wrestling.
Pro Wrestling is an improvised and innovated version of wrestling. If we decide to dissect the pro-wrestling bout in its every element, there would be several. To be precise:
- Entrances and other related effects
- Ring psychology
This may not be the perfect list of elements; however, it is easy now to see that wrestling, though the most important, is just one part of the whole package. Out of these seven, if we take out the remaining six, we would never enjoy a single match of WWE.
Now, let us briefly talk about the remaining six elements. Combine these six elements, and the package screams entertainment.
Every element is particularly designated to serve a different aspect of a script. In many ways, it is akin to an art of movie-making or reality shows.
Against this backdrop, it is understanding that pro wrestling is much closer to reality sports than to wrestling. Wrestling is just a body of pro wrestling.
Without other aspects, however, it would be similar to a naked man with ugly teeth, unkempt hair and a morbid soul.
Hence, in my opinion, WWE accepting that they are into sports entertainment is as serious as a teenager declaring he or she isn't a virgin.
I have always maintained that WWE feeds itself on the society around it. It is very much prone to the effects of shifts in sociological equilibrium. Every era of WWE relates with changes in society, and so does the PG era.
We have endlessly cried about how the PG era is decimating WWE programming. They are sure making profits, but the product they offer is horrible.
Right from the language used in promos to banned moves, we have issues. But from a purely business perspective, that is the most realistic thing WWE can do.
This so-called decay of WWE has got a lot to do with business cycles. It has everything to do with a micro business cycle of WWE as a company and macro business cycle of the US economy.
If we look back a little, then we can see that fall in ratings and PPV buys of WWE has collided with economic downturn in US.
Adults, when they have a thousand issues to settle, are unlikely to spend time and money on WWE. Security is more important than entertainment for every mature person. There lies one of the biggest reasons as to why a large chunk of mature audience has turned away from WWE.
Now in such a scenario, what would be the solution of current sociological paradigm for WWE? I have a clue—PG Era.
WWE is targeting the most influential group of customers—kids. Though they earn next to nothing, the consumption propensity of kids is highest among all the demographic groups. This generation of children has a completely different taste for products than what we had during our childhood.
We were seeing Batman, Superman, Spiderman, etc. while growing up. These kids have watched Hannah Montana and Pokemon. The difference is apparent. Now relate it to WWE. It is very much in sync.
Therefore, before we throw mud on every single thing that WWE does, it would be better if we just look around and do what we seldom do—think.
It is time to talk about another culprit, John Cena. I have already spoken about his sociological relevance.
I would rather keep it brief and to the point, here. John Cena is the premier product WWE has to offer as a company. What Coca-Cola is to Coke, Cena is to WWE. I use this analogy to give you an example of failed tinkering with the flagship product.
In the 1980s, Coke decided to launch new Coca-Cola. They made few changes to the core recipe of Coke. They refurbished the packaging. The campaign and new product bombed. People did not accept it. It is a legendary fail in the history of marketing.
That has everything to do with John Cena. There is a mighty possibility that even a subtle change in John Cena the character would meet with terrifying reviews and results. Here we are just talking about refurbishing the character, let alone changing it altogether.
Now, if John Cena is to turn heel, then WWE has to ensure every possibility of loss. The loss that villainous John Cena is going to incur would be enormous. For a heel john Cena, there got to be a mega face. When Stone Cold turned heel, WWE had The Rock and ABA Undertaker.
I will put it in one sentence. WWE has no one to replace or make up for John Cena in the near future. Yes, I mean it. Randy Orton does not have equal commitment, and Miz has no equal charisma. As long as either one of them does not overcome their shortcomings, all we have is only John Cena.
All these aspects just raise one question: Is John Cena the victim of current situations surrounding WWE? I’ll leave it up to you to decide the ultimate answer.
Over the past few days, I have seen some outrageous statements regarding Vince McMahon. Some of them are “Would WWE be better without Vince?” or "He has done some great things for the business." I just can’t resist but to sigh in disbelief.
We need to recall few simple facts first.
There are many people who play the game. Then there are some who change the game. There few who could make the game. And then there are few who could actually succeed in the same. Vincent McMahon belongs to the iconic fourth category.
Mr. McMahon has not given pro wrestling many great things. He has given this business a whole new life, bigger and probably better.
Bigger in the sense that without Vince, we would never have Hogan, WrestleMania, The Undertaker, HBK, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and John Cena. Without these things, we would even be reading this page and watching a single episode of WWE.
Better in the sense that we have often discussed the deaths of pro wrestlers. However, if not for Vince, there would be many more.
If WWE’s life on the road is tough, then I would implore every single reader to read historical accounts of lives of pro wrestlers earlier and even—for that matter—present small leagues.
It is horrible beyond imagination. For every Benoit and Owen, there are cases when WWE has taken care of wrestlers.
The health and wellness policy is not perfect by any means; however WWE is trying to improve it. We have to cut some slack where it is due. There are loopholes, there are problems, but above all there is a concrete policy.
I would not ramble more. I have discussed three different topics in earlier three slides. All three of them are in sync with each other. Together with some more, they create a mess of situations called WWE. Handling WWE is much more difficult than building a bungalow of card on a windy beach.
It is a house that threatens to fall apart more often than we would ever acknowledge. It has been happening for last several decades.
The only thing that held it together is Vince McMahon. Right from the days of Bruno Sammartino to John Cena, he has been the only constant in WWE.
I put my case right here, my lord.
I have discussed several issues that have got me thinking. I hope you enjoyed my little piece of work. Any criticism or appraisal is immensely appreciated.
Before I say thank you, I have a little request to make here. In the last week, I recognized that several WWE sites are unhappy with BR. The reason is several writers have pirated info without acknowledging the rightful source.
I would request all the readers to ask every writer who has written such a piece to practice the right process. It is giving our community a bad name, and honestly—I cannot stand it. I hope you don’t mind this request.
Thank you very much.