When it comes to the WWE, does the Internet ever spoil your viewing? Is there a need for a WWE offseason and new WWE PPV schedule?
I've been a fan of the WWE on and off for the majority of my 26 years on this planet. Recently, I have again become obsessed with following the WWE, both on TV and on the internet.
I don't know exactly why this is, but I do believe it had something to do with accidentally putting it on Sky Sports one night and not knowing a few of the competitors in the ring. This lead to my natural intrigue of discovering who these individuals were and where they stood in the grand scheme of things.
When I was a young child, I used to adore watching the WWE for all the characters such as Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart and Razor Ramon. I still have the wrestling figures that I used to play with on a daily basis and can remember one particular Survivor Series video that I never grew bored of.
I'll never forget being able to stay up late to watch the Royal Rumble in 1994 when the Undertaker was in the coffin after his match against Yokozuna and then appeared on the Tron, amazing at the time, cringe-worthy now!
I'm not sure when I grew out of wrestling, but I missed the majority of the Attitude Era and only really got back into the wrestling around 2001/02 until 2007/08. This was when my eyes were opened to the IWC.
I've been thinking about the internet over the last few days, trying to conclude whether it actually spoils my viewing or not.
These past couple of years I haven't spent much time online reading about wrestling. The majority of my browsing has been researching the facts about a new wrestler, trying to find out where they have come from and what they bring to the table. Or it has been to read up on the latest wrestling death or why a particular superstar no long appears on the shows.
My greatest problem with the internet from day one was the spoilers. There is nothing worse than knowing that something major is going down. I hate watching wrestling when I know the outcome.
If I knew that The Nexus were going to appear on Raw and tear up the ring, would it have had such a grand effect on my viewing? I believe not. This is just a personal view, but I would rather not know that Wrestler A is in talks with Company B about joining up because I love a surprise appearance.
Is this the Internet's problem? Most certainly not! I have to admit, with the new UK scheduling and the godsend that is Sky +HD, I very rarely come across a problem with spoilers.
It is extremely healthy that the IWC are so passionate about their love for the industry. This is the life blood that keeps professional wrestling in business. Without all the fans coming online and venting their frustrations on current direction, would there be much interest in the product?
During my younger days I would often get angry and argue 'til the cows came home about particular points.
I'd also become extremely frustrated with single-minded members of the IWC who put all their eggs in one basket, supporting a particular wrestler and vehemently arguing their cause for world domination! What we all need to recognise is that we have very different views and opinions!
The important lessen for the IWC to learn with age is the fact that these differences should be respected and shouldn't be exclusive. Potential fans and lost fans can be put off by some of the extreme views held by some members of the IWC.
I realise this is quite an extravagant statement to make, but I truly believe that professional wrestling gets tarnished and people stay away from it, not because they do not understand what they are missing, but because some fans help to reinforce their misinformed perceptions.
Personally, I find it quite refreshing to not read any opinions for a few weeks and just watch the shows. I take them at face value and ask myself whilst watching what I am looking to get out of the exercise.
I must have matured or significantly altered my tastes, as I am now, generally, just looking to be entertained for an hour or so, where I can switch off from the real world and just enjoy the WWE for what it is.
Before I would have been immediately assessing who was left off the show and why they hadn't forwarded a particular storyline.
I have come to the conclusion that I stopped watching the WWE because I got too embroiled in the IWC and was becoming too frustrated with all the decisions that I had no inclination to see.
My time away from the WWE has been a blessing in disguise, as now I have regained a real love and passion for the business. My new viewpoint of just enjoying the show, appreciating the talent and acknowledging the sacrifices has liberated me.
Does the WWE Need an Offseason?
This newfound respect for the business brings me to the second part of this article, does the WWE need an off-season?
There has been so much reported over the last few months about the strains and stresses that the superstars go through on a daily basis. I am amazed at the schedules these guys keep with the sheer battering that their bodies take.
I've recently undergone ACL surgery in my left knee, which has kept me out of work for six weeks and will prevent me from playing sports for another six to nine months. I can really sympathise with these competitors who are continuously getting injured, going through surgery and rehabilitation.
It must be an absolute nightmare for them to have to perform with niggling injuries, knowing deep down that they must be jeopardising their health in later life just to ensure they do not lose their slot on the roster.
Take for example Skip Sheffield, what must be going through his head? He suffered a major injury just as people were beginning to be won over by his enforcer type role in the Nexus and were seeing him as someone who could definitely do a job for the WWE in the future.
Now he may never again find himself involved in the WWE.
Yes, he is still under contract, but face facts, he may not recover as quickly as hoped or his injury may just be the start of several more niggles that prevent him from getting a prolonged run.
The Nexus could well be over by the time he is ring ready for a return, leaving him back to square one in having to find a niche and get over with the crowd, which I think he'd find very difficult.
It is a shame that there is no union for wrestlers, as at the moment it would appear that no one individual can come out and speak about the concerns of the wrestlers.
They do not have a voice and to speak out now would literally say to the WWE that they do not want to be pushed any longer and will be happy participating in dance offs for the rest of their career.
Do not get me wrong, wrestlers choose their occupation and know what they are signing up for at the start. But I would love to hear what the wrestlers feel about this matter. Would they all like a month off per year to spend with their families?
Do they get sick to death of all the travelling? Would a physical rest add years to their lifespan?
All important questions, with answers that can only be answered by the talent.
They all clearly love what they do and will do anything to remain in a prominent position on the roster, which has a knock on effect for their physical well being. Obviously they are more inclined to perform with injuries rather than seek the medical attention required.
Personally, I think they should get a month off.
The most ideal time for this would be December. I am not sure about everyone else, but the WWE is not at the forefront of my mind during December. There are much more important things to be getting on with! Why not end the WWE year in November and re-start in January with the massively important Royal Rumble?
Straight away there would be issues with the TV scheduling and how to fill the time slots that they have already committed themselves to. But this type of argument should not outweigh the overall condition of the talent roster. Their health and safety must be one of the priorities of the WWE.
I'm sorry, but all those wrestlers dying early isn't just a coincidence, it is the way of life. Yes, the WWE is making great strides with the Wellness Policy and it does appear that they are finally beginning to recognise that.
Whilst it is not their fault that so many wrestlers have died far too early, they can make a real difference in ensuring that these occurrences stop!
New PPV Schedule
A recuperation period is essential and would actually compliment a new PPV structure.
I will not try to pretend that I have any idea what type of income the PPV's currently provide the WWE. So their business plan probably defeats me straight away. If the 13 PPV's we get per year currently yields the greatest revenue, then fair play.
However, it is my opinion that anything more than 12 a year is ridiculous. I think we can all agree on the fact that it is next to impossible to build any sort of feud in a couple of weeks.
We are all bearing witness to this currently with Bragging Rights straight off the back of Hell In A Cell. I really do like the concept of Bragging Rights, but it has not been given enough time and is far too close to Summerslam and Survivor Series with the multi-man tag team main events.
In an ideal world I would see there being only six or seven PPV's a year. Let's go back to the days where the main four PPV's were the centre of attention. Start off the year with the brilliant Royal Rumble, dance on to the glorious Wrestlemania, build to Summerslam and end the year with the Survivor Series.
It is only greed on the WWE's part that we have any other PPV's, as none have managed to reach the level of importance of those four. Okay maybe it gives more opportunity for a greater audience to see the performers on a grand stage rather than there just being a few places that get to hold the big events.
So which other PPV's would make the cut? Personally, I would bring back the King of the Ring PPV. But only if they really built up it's importance: becoming the King of the Ring should have as much emphasis as being the Money in the Bank winner.
There are so many talented individuals in the WWE at the moment, with only a limited amount of championships, the need for something like the King of the Ring is definitely there. Kofi, Kaval, Ziggler, Riley, Mysterio, Edge, Christian, CM Punk, Bourne, Morrison, Del Rio, Bryan, Swagger, Miz, McIntyre, Rhodes, Gabriel, etc...could all benefit from challenging for the KotR.
They could actually sell it as the WWE determining who the best WRESTLER is, would be a big event for the IWC and I believe it would strengthen the position of the WWE in the long run.
Bragging Rights is another PPV that could survive in the new schedule, but there would need to be a purpose to it. They'd need to build up the rivalry throughout the year and ensure it actually makes sense as a competition. This can be done a number of ways, e.g. wrestlers showing allegiance and loyalty to one show, draft picks that do not wish to remain on the show they get drafted to, etc...
It wouldn't work unless they were constantly at each others heels. The prizes for winning Bragging Rights would need to be major too, such as ensuring that show is the last match at WM, giving them the last one to five entrants in the Royal Rumble, the first two draft picks, etc...
Whether it be four or seven PPV's, we just need to lose the 13. It is too much.
I don't wish to open up a whole new discussion point on money and the current economic position that stops people from buying all 13 PPV's. But I do believe that by offering the main four PPV's + a couple more, you are going to be sending out a message to all the loyal fans that you recognise times are hard.
They'd also be committing to put more meat on the bones of future PPV's, making it worth the hard earned cash that the fans will be parting with. They should experiment by really plugging and advertising a free TV event, similar to a product they'd put on PPV, and see how the viewing figures differ to those of the current PPV sales. It might put things into perspective for them.
I apologise for going on a little bit here, but I've covered some topics that are close to my heart. I think, in summary, yes the internet has spoiled some aspects of watching the WWE throughout my life, but the internet shouldn't dominate and influence the views you have deep down.
WWE does need to make big changes to its scheduling and the way it treats the performers. Ideally we'd see a one month recuperation period and a return to limited PPV's with more emphasis on building prestige and intrigue to the product.
I have heard rumblings of big changes coming in January, I just hope that these topics are given some consideration by the WWE. I would have even more interest in the product if it wasn't a 365 days a year investment.