In July 2012, WWE expanded Monday Night Raw to 3 hours. Initially it was looked at as a good thing as it was sure to give more time to less-represented stars, or give us more of the stars that people wanted to see. However, it slowly turned into a marathon that the average fan could get burned out on very quickly.After SummerSlam in August, WWE Raw’s 3 hours can be some of the most difficult television to sit through, as it is seen as the muck before Wrestlemania season fires up again.
In addition to Monday Night Raw being 3 hours, keeping up with the vast amount of programming WWE produces can be a major chore for even the most diehard WWE fan. For fans who can’t keep up with each show, (even though Michael Cole beats what has already happened into the ground at times) they may feel like it’s easy to fall behind, which leads to falling out altogether.
Change In Product Focus
As each era of wrestling emerges, it must replace the current status quo. If that next phase isn’t sold well enough to the current crop of fans, typically a drought will occur. When golden era performers like Hogan, Savage, and Warrior faded from the picture and left WWE, many fans left with them.
Emerging in those ashes, was the foundation of the New Generation Era, led by stars like Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Diesel. None of those guys were like what WWE was using for the last decade. From there, they had to rebuild, and retrain the audience as to what the new standard of wrestling was, but in the process public interest and their bottom line took a hit.
Luckily those guys kept the wheels from completely falling off while they marched on.
With that forward momentum, a short nostalgia period of WWE’s golden era picked up in WCW, while WWE reloaded with Stone Cold, The Rock, HHH, and women getting half naked.
Subsequently, when this successful era ended, WWE once again ran into the issue of changing their focus. Pressures by sponsors, and becoming a publicly traded company led to the PG Era being created. While this isn’t the space for a PG Era vs Attitude Era debate, resistance or less fan support while establishing a new standard is clearly part of wrestling history.
People will stop watching WWE at some point because they always have when an era changes. What WWE counts on is replacing that fan. They just have to pick the right approach to replenish them.
Favorite Wrestlers Retired/Talent Pool Dried Up
As referenced in the beginning of this piece, this type of thing will always be said: “I used to watch when Austin/Rock/Hulk Hogan/Ric Flair/Shawn Michaels (you get the point) was on!”
Well, those people aren’t saying anything particularly bad, but look at those names listed. Those guys are retired, deceased, movie stars, or way too injured to ever wrestle again.
The cyclical nature of wrestling led to icon status for most people’s favorite wrestlers of yesteryear, and when they were no longer able to stay at that level due to injuries, career opportunities, or age, Wrestling just wasn’t the same in some fans’ eyes. In romanticizing ones youth, wrestling tends to be looked at with an childlike innocence.
Furthermore, it isn’t the job of those fans to understand the peaks and valleys of a wrestler’s career. Once the wrestlers aren’t entertaining them anymore, and there isn’t a sufficient replacement, one could imagine interest in the product could wane easily.
Waiting for the next luminary to show up isn’t exactly the easiest thing to sit through. While Brock Lesnar was instantly given the throne, imagine watching in 2002, when generic John Cena and Deacon Batista showed up? Who would have called those guys being long-term aces back then?
Transitions In Life
One of the most common reasons people stop watching wrestling is because they find new interests in life. A common time to fall out of being a wrestling fan is during a transitional period such as elementary to middle school, or high school to college.
With increased workloads in school or work, and new relationships that are formed in all avenues, wrestling tends to mean a lot less during those times. Not to mention the fact that there’s less time to watch it.
While focusing on the next stage in life, or pursuing passions and talents, getting invested in what good guy will try to win the belt from the champion doesn’t exactly measure up after a while. Once those interests and transitions are fully managed, it may leave room for wrestling to re-enter their consciousness at a later age.
Same Ol Sh**
“___________ never loses! SAME OLD SH**!!!!”
In wrestling there are many formulas promotions use to ensure success. A long running heel champion running roughshod over a company, such as HHH in the mid 2000’s, while a crowd favorite is built to challenge him is one of the oldest, a time-tested device used to build a new star.
What promotions have to be careful of, is showing their hand too early with a push, or re-doing the same stories and matches over and over within a short time period. How many times did Roman Reigns fight The Big Show this year? When something “new” feels like a re-run, it leads to chronic apathy or even worse, tuning out completely.
This practice became evident in WCW starting in 1999. However, this doesn’t just apply to promotions; this can go for wrestlers as well.
It’s no secret the very best guys all have their routines within matches. Where the most elite stars standout, is finding a way to blend those familiar sequences with innovative new ones to make sure we never see what’s coming.
Over the years fans have made no secret of their desire to be impressed. “Same Ol’ Sh**” should be the scariest chant to hear for wrestling promotions, because when people are seeing the same thing again and again, they are more likely to tune out.
Without question, doubt or a moment of hesitation, Chris Benoit is one of the greatest in-ring performers to ever lace up a pair of boots. He was a world-traveled athlete who rose through the ranks of international competition, WCW and later WWE despite his lack of a dynamic personality. He’s arguably the best technical wrestler to have graced the squared circle as well.
Nevertheless, none of that is mentioned when his name is spoken, and for great reason. Chris Benoit cast a dark cloud over the wrestling industry in June 2007 when he killed his wife, son and then himself in a shocking double murder suicide. It was a disgusting act that will vilify, and taint his legacy until the end of time.