Mickie James revealed on a recent interview that she had been told WWE will never do another Evolution pay-per-view, nor would there ever be a show revolving strictly around the women’s division.
She was told that women’s wrestling doesn’t draw money. People don’t tune in for it. There’s not enough interest. Basically, “drop it, cause it’s not happening.”
Most people’s immediate reaction to that is a justifiable “What the hell? That’s very defeatist. They aren’t giving the women’s division a chance.”
While that’s an admirable thought and a more-than-acceptable response, it’s reactionary. It’s also dismissive of how there may be legitimate reasons why this is the case, beyond just writing it off as “sexism, 100%, and that’s it.”
So let’s play devil’s advocate. What are the pros and cons of these two ideas, when you really give credit to the gray areas, rather than having a black or white viewpoint?
The Benefit of Representation
Obviously, the absolute biggest, most important element of this from a positive perspective is that it is another major step toward putting the women’s division on an equal playing field.
Any sensible person understands why this is something to strive for in all aspects of life. There are still many situations where, unfortunately, women deal with completely unnecessary obstacles for no reason other than old school mentalities used to position them as lesser, which is horrible. It’s been an uphill battle that has taken this long to get to this point and there are still many things that need to change.
Women’s wrestling can’t progress until the narrative changes and the opportunities are there. I don’t think there’s any argument whatsoever to this point of view. This is just a definitive point in the column of “these shows should happen.”
Money Makes the World Go ‘Round
However. The absolute biggest, most important element of a business is making money. If something doesn’t sell, you stop trying to sell it.
That’s just how it works. It may suck that people don’t want to buy something, but being upset about it doesn’t change it. You have to take steps to make that thing more desirable. Supply and demand.
If it’s true that Evolution was one of the lowest-selling events in company history, then why would WWE want to give it another shot? For that matter, why would WWE think a weekly television show would be a good idea if people didn’t even want to tune in to a one-night special?
You invest in things you think will yield you a net positive in some fashion. Either you make more money than you put into it, or you get some non-monetary positive that becomes worth the cash.
Simply put, WWE doesn’t think the investment will be worth it. Just like the idea of the physical Hall of Fame being a “money pit” and not worth building, this would be more money than it would generate— or, at least, that’s one of the excuses being said.
So How Does It Become More Profitable?
Again, simply put, the way to make it worth taking the risk is for the risk factor to diminish. You’re dealing with theoretical concepts and unreliable metrics when it comes to “popularity” and “public interest”. Judging the potential viewership of a women’s division show/event isn’t like judging stocks where you sell because a company is about to become technologically obsolete.
The only metrics WWE has to judge on are ratings during the women’s division segments, merchandise sales and the arbitrary social media tracking. If those numbers aren’t high enough, the risk factor is too big of a gap.
So you make it more desirable by doing one or more of the following:
- You get lucky and it just happens naturally.
- Someone strikes oil with a storyline or gimmick that gets people talking.
- You spend more time developing the concept so people have more of an attachment and awareness of it.
Let’s talk about that third aspect.
Did you watch any of the films that were nominated for Best Picture this year at the Oscars? Probably not, right? You probably never even heard of them. That’s because little to no money was spent advertising them. You had to hear about them from word of mouth or directly doing the research yourself.
That word of mouth doesn’t come around as easily when less people know about something. If 100 people can spread the word, that circle is exponentially wider and has a quicker spread than if 10 people talk about the same thing.
I’ve never seen a single Fast & Furious movie, but by just being in pop culture, I can tell you half the character names, fill you in on how Han has apparently died and come back to life like 3 times, etc. It’s all about family, supposedly. Can you tell me anything about what Mank is about?
Without question, the more time that is invested in showcasing the women’s division, the better chance it has to develop a stronger fan base. One match on a 3 hour show can go unnoticed even by someone watching the show as they might have spent those few minutes doing something else, or it might not have resonated with them, but another women’s division match might have been the best part of the night if it were on the show.
Time is Money
But here’s the kicker. Time is money and it’s a vicious cycle. If you don’t believe fans will tune in, why would you waste your time trying to build up the women’s division if you know you’re taking a hit in the meantime?
Risk management repeats itself.
“I need money to pay my bills. But I need a job to earn money. I need a car to get a job. But I need money to buy a car. So I need money to get money.”
Unless you have a benefactor that steps in and breaks the loop, you’re left going back to #1 or #2 — IE, you have to randomly get lucky that something catches on and gives you more leeway to work with to close that risk gap.
Cross-pollination vs. Brand Split and Oversaturation
Having a show dedicated entirely to the women’s division would open up fresh matches. We’d be able to see a feud like Charlotte Flair against Bianca Belair, rather than having Bayley go back to fighting for the SmackDown Women’s Championship because she’s one of the few people on the blue brand.
Remember when Bayley fought Nikki Cross 18 or so times in a year? That wouldn’t have to be the case.