This week and last, you’ve seen plenty ads promoting “NXT 2.0” on Raw and SmackDown. WWE actively wanted you to know that there was a change going on in NXT and that you should check that out.
Can you remember the last time anything else was promoted regarding NXT during these shows? Where was the reminder on SmackDown that Raquel Gonzalez would face Dakota Kai for the NXT Women’s Championship, or any mention on Raw that Ted DiBiase was appearing regularly with the Million Dollar Championship lately?
WWE didn’t care enough back then to spend time promoting it. Whether it was an active choice of “don’t bother” or a passive choice of “there are more important things”, it’s a sign WWE just had other values in mind.
Whenever that happens and WWE is transparent enough to let fans know that people in the company don’t care about something, fans inevitably follow suit. Funny enough, while it works that way, it isn’t necessarily true about the opposite. Just because WWE cares a lot about something and is heavily invested doesn’t mean fans echo back the same enthusiasm, but the apathy is 100% transferable.
WWE cares about Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at Crown Jewel. That’s why you keep hearing about it, even at the expense of Finn Balor and the build to Extreme Rules. Most likely, if you polled the average person in the WWE Universe and asked which match they were more interested in, it’s Lesnar, not Balor.
That got me thinking. What are some things WWE has been obvious about that they aren’t invested in, so the fans have also checked out in response?
Here are just five examples off the top of my head for what I’m sure could be a longer list (and I encourage you to add more in the comments below!)
WWE Doesn’t Care About 205 Live or Main Event
You don’t watch 205 Live or Main Event. Admit it. It’s okay. Almost nobody does.
WWE knows it, but cares so little that you don’t watch them that not only is nothing being done to fix that, it’s actually the opposite. Instead of attempts to upgrade the quality of the programs so viewers will be incentivized to tune in, WWE uses them as a dumping grounds.
That’s not to say the talent is bad. Far from it. But there’s a difference between someone like Andre Chase being able to perform well in the ring and someone like Drew McIntyre who is talented and WWE gives a shit—as brutal as it is to say.
The wrestlers themselves joke about Main Event being meaningless. Not only do the matches have no storyline to them (outside of the situation where two people wrestle 100 times in a row and we’re told it’s a “storied rivalry”), characters flip flop between babyface and heel because it doesn’t matter, and it’s always filled with midcard acts at best.
You’ll never see Big E defend the WWE Championship there, even though that would make people tune in. You won’t even see Damian Priest defend the United States Championship. What you’ll see is Humberto Carrillo against Veer or Jaxson Ryker against Mace.
WWE doesn’t even list Main Event as a show on its website. This has been the case for years. They care so little that they can’t even have someone take 5 minutes to put that on there. More than likely, they know it’s so bad that they are embarrassed about it and would rather as few people watch it as possible. There’s no Twitter account for the show, it’s never promoted—it may as well not exist.
205 Live has ceased to be anything of what it used to be. The entire purpose of the program is no longer a thing. It’s not strictly wrestlers under the 205 lb weight limit, nor is it live!
It used to be that this was the showcase of the cruiserweight division. That title merged into the normal NXT and this became the backup for that. Now, if you showed it to someone for the first time, they wouldn’t know it has anything to do with a cruiserweight division.
Boa competed last night. He’s 220. Joe Gacy (249) and Josh Briggs (268) have been regulars as of late. Odyssey Jones as well has been on 205 Live quite a bit and he’s 405!
Women’s matches are happening every week, too. Amari Miller just lost to Valentina Feroz. While both are under 205, they’re not eligible to fight for the Cruiserweight Championship, nor is any emphasis put on their weights.
WWE does this all because these two shows are under contract with Hulu. As it stands, from what I’m able to tell, Hulu’s contract only allows for 90 minute versions of the bigger shows, but they can do the entirety of Main Event and 205 Live since they’re smaller. This deal likely makes Hulu think they’re getting original content, particularly with Main Event, since you can’t watch that elsewhere, so they’re paying for “our own WWE show that can draw subscribers”. Hulu gets the ability to stop Peacock from putting replays of 205 Live up for 15 days, too, so if you missed the live show, you have to go there.
WWE cares about one thing and one thing only when it comes to these shows: the contract money from Hulu. Once that ends, seemingly in the next few months, they’ll enter negotiations. WWE will want to make as much money for as little work as possible (pre-taping 2 or 3 do-nothing matches that they don’t need to advertise; the bare minimum) while Hulu will want something to draw in audiences and ask for more bang for their buck. If I were Hulu, and I’m on the Disney side of things now in more control than before, I wouldn’t be signing on for another season. Then, WWE will likely kill off Main Event, unless Peacock can be enticed to make it seem like they’re getting something sweet with that, too.
What will probably happen is that if Hulu wants to continue to host WWE content, it’ll ask to still have its own Hulu-specific show. Then, WWE will say “well, you’ve got Main Event. We can keep doing that. There’s equity in the name (lie).” They’ll either agree on a price or WWE will say “For that low of a price tag, we’re not giving you your own show, then. Just our reruns.”
Remember when Matt Striker was super excited about all the appearances during the 2011 Royal Rumble (good lord, that was 10 years ago) and said it was a mark out moment and he’s marking out, but was met with “take a chill pill”?