The Crossover: Why wrestling fans are turning to UFC

Gina GeatchesCorrespondent IIIAugust 7, 2010

UFC has been growing in popularity for some time now, and wrestling PPV’s are on the decline (UFC 114 and 116 drew over one million PPV buy rates in North America alone, whereas Wrestlemania drew in 885,000 buy rates overall). Some speculate that UFC is going to grow in popularity for months to come and that wrestling may take a hit because of it. With Paul Heyman stating in a recent interview that ‘wrestling needs to get it’s act together’ I thought I would take a look into why wrestling fans are turning to UFC, and whether or not it could be a threat to wrestling in the long run.

WWE goes PG

Wrestling in the 90’s was known for being violent, bloody and edgy, however today’s version of wrestling has been toned down for it’s new target audience, children.

WWE has banned blood, unprotected chair shoots to the head, reference to alcohol, swearing and too ‘aggressive’ matches. This has caused some of the older fans to become bored of WWE.

UFC on the other hand is extremely violent and aggressive and is not targeted at children. This is a company that, unintentionally, caters to previous fans of the attitude era that WWE has scared away.

Before WWE went PG it was known for focusing on John Cena, however since going PG it has focused on Cena even more. His superman character is popular amongst the kids, but has proven too stale and boring for older fans. This has caused a strong backlash from older fans that have strayed away from the product.

However, WWE has recently started pushing the newly babyface Randy Orton heavily over the last couple of months. Is the recent push of the ‘ruthless’ Randy Orton down to backlash of Cena’s character? Could his character regain their older fans?  His push is popular amongst the Internet wrestling community and could be exactly what WWE needs right now.

Non-determined ending

UFC does not have planned or scripted endings unlike wrestling matches, instead they are completely real (I am not saying wrestling is fake, I am saying the endings are scripted). This creates the matches to be more realistic and unpredictable.  Due to the non-determined endings people cannot go online and find spoilers to see who the winner is. Fans of UFC either have to watch the event, or read an article afterwards stating who won.

However, this could be avoided to an extent. WWE should consider airing Smackdown live every week to prevent spoiler leaks. This could potentially boost ratings and create a new buzz for wrestling fans.

Something new?

Some fans have recently been complaining that wrestling has done just about everything it could of possibly done by now.  Storylines have become stale and predictable and everything seems to be recycled. Fans want something new and fresh. They do not want see Cena win another match and have the same promo as he did the week before.

WWE responded to this backlash with the recent Nexus angle and by taking Cena out of the title picture for a while. The Nexus angle may be another evasion angle but it has got a sense of excitement and energy that fans haven’t seen in years.

Previous wrestlers turning to UFC

Ex WWE star Brock Lesnar quit wrestling to play football, however did not get very far. Brock joined UFC in 2008 and has been a forced to reckon with (much like his WWE character).

Naturally, fans of Brock Lesnar haven taken interest in his UFC career and with support from J.R, Steve Austin, Goldberg and Heyman many other wrestling fans are also beginning to take notice. Vince McMahon was reportedly unhappy with J.R being at the UFC event.


WWE drives the focus of their PPV matches on storyline rivals. UFC does not have storylines were their fighter’s read of scripts; instead it’s purely driven on the fighting aspect. 

Storylines have a purpose to sell PPV’s and I do not think they should be scrapped, but I do think there should be less segment time and more time spent on wrestling. I also think they should stop giving all the segments to the same wrestlers week in and out and mix it up a bit more. 

WWE’s has recently started pushing newer stars such as Sheamus and Jack Swagger as a response to fan complaints. They have taken notice of people’s disdain of seeing John Cena and Randy Orton wrestle each other at every PPV.  Instead they are trying to keep their shows fresh and new.

So with all the recent changes WWE has made, will it be enough to regain some of their older fans back, or is UFC a bigger threat that Vince McMahon likes to let on?