WWE Panorama: 10 Things to Expect from the Future of WWE
For WWE fans, the past 12 months have been a roller-coaster ride. It has become apparent that the company we loved for years is not the same anymore. Right from the superstars in the ring to the people in the corporate cabins, WWE is changing its guards.
We have been saying all along that WWE is in a phase of transition. The youth movement also indicates the same thing. It has often been said that the future is very close, and we are standing on the doorsteps.
I disagree with the notion. We are not standing on the doorsteps anymore, we are inside the room. We have entered the future.
The sudden retirement of Edge has pushed us inside the room faster than we had expected. With Edge no more, and Triple H, Undertaker becoming 'special attractions,' let me say loudly that This Is Future.
Therefore, it is an apt moment to look deep inside the room and try to see what lies ahead. This article will look into the possibilities that present scenario beholds.
Let me please clarify that these 10 things are possibilities. They are not suggestions to improve the product nor are they certain prospects. I am not even using psychic reading here. I have looked at it from a pure business perspective. It is partially a business forecasting and partially an idealist vision.
Note: Some smart readers may realize that I have already written a similar article. They are correct. This is the second part of my best work 'til this date - WWE Panorama - 10 things to anticipate from the future of WWE.
Disclaimer: This is not a ranking.
Let the journey begin.
A New Face?
A new face of WWE is something we have been speculating a lot about. For many, it is a wish. For many, it is a necessity. For me, a new WWE poster-boy is an uncertainty. This is not a vague statement; this my firm belief.
As of now, there are two credible claimants for the post currently occupied by John Cena. First person is Randy Orton and second is The Miz. Then we have some outside candidates such as Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio, but their chances are extremely slim.
In my opinion, however, neither Orton nor Miz is fit enough to replace John Cena at this moment. The very simple reason is Randy Orton does not have the equal passion and Miz does not have the equal drawing power to dethrone Cena.
If we dig deeper then, Randy Orton's character is not made to be a poster child. Moreover, neither he is Stone Cold nor is it Attitude Era. Randy Orton's character has tremendous limitations and they are going to hold him back. You can read in detail why, here.
In case of Miz, he is not ready as of now. He does not really look like he can ever draw as much as John Cena in the future, even as a face. He is extremely hardworking and passionate. He has been chasing a dream and that is commendable. However, he still has a long way to go to reach a status of a poster-boy.
In few years to come, both can sure make up for their deficiencies. But, in the near future, neither of them has a realistic chance even to challenge Cena.
That leaves us with two possibilities. The foremost possibility is an extended run of John Cena followed by days reminiscent to Ruthless Aggression era, when there was no single face of the promotion.
Second possibility is a wild card entry called CM Punk. There is no more all-round superstar in the WWE than this superstar. He has each and every needed attribute and he is the best bet at this moment. He may take some time off soon, but never discount him.
Future of Smack-Down
A very curious aspect of WWE's future is it's second child, SmackDown. Since the inception of this show it has been called the 'B' show. WWE has never really cared about this show, despite all the potential this show offers.
There are two polar opposite possibilities that SmackDown would offer.
In the first case, there has been a talk of roster merger. This would be ultimate demise of the show. In this scenario, we will only have Raw. However, in my opinion, it is not happening. It is highly unrealistic to close down the show that is not only needed, but also may become a game-changer if handled correctly.
Game-changer, this word does not really go well with SD. But WWE has done stranger things before. Smack-Down has potential and we all know that.
It does not need to bring in 4.00-5.00 ratings to become big. Given its potential, it may bring in a rating ranging between 2.50-3.50 after sustained efforts.
A network change and going live on Thursday night, these two changes would propel the ratings much higher. The sole reason I believe it may happen is because of profits that this move offers. In Attitude Era, WWE touched 8.00 ratings once.
The only time WWE ever managed 8 was when Raw and Smack-Down pulled in ratings in the range of 5 and 3 respectively. WWE no more has Rock, SCSA, HHH and Undertaker to bring in those amazing numbers. It instead has Raw and SmackDown and they have to utilize them.
However, let us be realistic and assume that SmackDown remains as it is. Then, it will be a highly glorified version of FCW to hone new talent; secondly, it will prove to be laboratory for WWE programming. WWE can experiment many things on Smack-Down since it is taped. Whatever works can be brought on Raw afterwards.
So, these are some of the likely scenarios for the future of SmackDown.
Changes in Brand of Wrestling
I have discussed a related point in my first edition of this article. I had said there that Mid-Size wrestlers are future. Today, Miz is the WWE champion and that goes well with my prediction.
In case of brand of wrestling, as painful as it may be, we have to accept that days of technical wrestling are long gone. In fact, now even a brutal cage match will remain a special attraction. The storytelling is going to become lesser important in the coming days as well.
The style that is going to fetch money is fast-paced brawling with substantial high-flying elements. The way blood was used in the past, spot-monkey techniques will be used now.
This precisely is the reason why John Morrison is featured heavily on almost every PPV. I am his fan, but I cannot deny that WWE is not pushing him for long term goals but instead for two crazy spots per PPV. This is the reality.
Probably, Justin Gabriel will be relegated to this position once John Morrison moves ahead or up. This is a seat that will be looked after heavily in future.
Increase in Influence of International Audience
It is already altering the landscape of WWE. It is the answer as to why Great Khali will never be fired. This is the answer for importance given to Alberto Del Rio and Sin Cara.
WWE is losing its customer base in USA at this moment. Then at such a point of time, while consolidating that front, the backup solution is to develop a bigger international pool of customers.
Countries like Mexico, India, UK are the key markets when it comes to overseas opportunities. Above mentioned three guys along with Wade Barrett, Drew McIntyre and Sheamus represent this fact.
There will be more focus on these international identities in future. Every aspect related to nationalities will stressed hard enough to juice it up.
This trend will not only influence superstars but storylines as well. We will be seeing a lot of cross-cultural references in future. Unlike past, they will not be kayfabe this time around.
Revival of Diva's Division
I am not smoking any 'sandwich' when I predict a revival of Diva's division.
First of all, it has reached a point where it can't go below anymore. Any new development may better the situation in this division but it certainly cannot worsen it. Divas division has already reached its bottom. The only way now it has is upwards
Right now, three positive things are happening. Kelly Kelly has shown a hint of passion and emotion in last few months. There is a scare that people may actually care for her.
Then, Lay-Cool have reached a boiling point and their feud will be intense. If handled correctly, it will be less boring than 90 percent of the angles of superstars.
And to top it all, Kharma is coming. Kharma aka Awesome Kong will be a huge draw in these coming months and she is the very remedy needed for Divas division right now.
Kharma, Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix, Layla and Kelly Kelly are the five girls to watch out in these coming few months, and I am pretty sure that we will be surprised.
Role of FCW & Tough Enough
FCW and reality shows like Tough Enough are going to be ultimate lifeline of WWE. It is WWE equivalent of R&D department of other corporates. And just like other companies, WWE is investing heavily in this department.
It is a common knowledge now that Triple H is going to personally look into developmental territories. He is going to apply his ideas and vision. It is surely a great news and I for one am looking forward to how things unfold.
Coming back to roles of these laboratories, there might be a change in the way FCW has acted so far. The channel we knew was Indy circuits/other developmental territories to FCW to WWE. FCW has been the biggest way to enter WWE.
However, with the focus on entertainment, this may not remain the case. A program like Tough Enough and its variants will be the new highways.
A person may appear in WWE first and then he/she would be sent to FCW. Rather than creating superstars, FCW might become the place to refurbish superstars.
One thing is sure that WWE will be spending more than ever on both FCW and Tough Enough in coming years.
Changes in Target Audience
Let me clarify few things here first off. The image here implies mental age rather than actual stages of evolution.
Secondly, I am not talking about PG era or its transition. I have done it already in the first set of predictions. Here i wish to discuss the target audience assuming that PG era will last until or even after I do.
The basic fact is WWE cannot rely on the current programming for more than few years. Because, even though WWE might not grow, it's audience will grow up. WWE has to keep the fish in it's net healthy before catching new ones.
There will be a gradual change in WWE programming. If not entirely, then we will have some angles specifically targeting an age group. There will be variety that is absent at this point of time. These changes are necessary. WWE has shown this dynamism before, hence I dare to expect it.
Secondly, there has been one portion WWE has already started wooing. I expect these advances to increase a little bit in future. I am talking about women. If any customer base spends more than or equal to children, then it is women.
There is no possibility of storylines aimed at women. That will not happen, but there is another way. Increase in the merchandise aimed solely at women. This is a move, that can hardly backfire.
Backstage Role of Wrestling Legends
This pack excludes Triple H. I am talking about the likes of Undertaker, HBK, Edge, Stone Cold and Chris Jericho here.
These superstars have achieved literally every damn thing in this business. Apart from their endless list of achievements, other thing they have in common is that they are WWE lifetimers. WWE have made them the star they are, and these guys acknowledge that.
Moreover, the kind of aptitude guys like Undertaker, HBK or Edge have about the business, it will tremendously beneficial for the WWE to have them in the loop.
Undertaker, in particular, is certain to assume a very high position to aid Triple H. HBK and Edge might join them too. Creative, bookings and training are the areas where these legends can contribute.
Without a doubt, we can say that these legends will be playing an instrumental role in creating the future of WWE.
Reforms in Creative Team
Michael Hayes - One of the key creative members.
WWE in the recent past has heavily relied on writers from Hollywood for storylines. It would not be wrong to say that results have been disappointing so far. For a long time, fans have clamored for better creative team to ensure better characters and stories.
This wish may be fulfilled in future. The man, who is going to handle creative now on is certain to make some big changes. That man is Triple H.
There is a supportive fact to his lack of trust in the creative team. It is widely known that both Triple H and the Undertaker discarded respective story-lines offered to them for WrestleMania 27 and came together to make their own program. We can say that they did a good job.
However, if Triple H and the Undertaker are not happy with such a serious aspect, then this creative team is in a trouble. These are two guys with maximum powers.
Triple H is the official head of this department now. Therefore, if we put all the pieces together, then it is apparent that things are going to move faster than expected.
Possible Acquisition or Overseas Venture
This one is a long shot prediction or expectation. However, there has been a cycle of WWE's acquisitions. After a certain period, Vince has either killed or taken over the existing competition. For some time now, he has been quiet.
This particular period is an interesting one. WWE has a competition that is either infant or incumbent in itself. There no direct competition and there will not be any in near future. WWE already has a strong hold on US market.
That leaves one area where WWE has not made any big conquests. That area is overseas territories. If any country matches USA in more ways than others, then it is UK. Although Mexico has better pro-wrestling base, UK is a safer investment destination.
A business student in me tells me that, in coming few years, WWE will be taking some such step. That is imperative for business expansion.
Whenever it happens, please remember that this fellow here had predicted it on April 28, 2011.
I hope you enjoyed this second of the predictions about WWE's future. I have a third part of this series coming that will analyze WWE's future from a totally different perspective.
It will be a SWOT analysis. That means an analysis of WWE's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
If you have any predictions of your own, if you agree with me or disagree with me on something, then let me know in the comment threads.