Earlier this afternoon, I had reported here that WWE is growing concerned that their abundance of content may be proportioned to their declining ratings and viewership. Ya don’t say. On July 23rd of 2012, Monday Night RAW officially became three hours, starting one hour earlier at 8 PM as opposed to 9 PM, and therein lied the issue for me.
If you take a look at today’s current WWE, it seems as though you can’t go one day without having something to occupy your time from WWE. Every Monday Night, there’s a three hour Monday Night RAW to tune into, and seeing how often they go over the 11 PM time slot, it’s even more at times. Then, you have a live edition of Smackdown on Tuesday nights for another two hours. Prior, in that regard, in might have been easy to determine whether or not viewers wanted to tune in to Smackdown which was originally on Fridays, and then Thursdays, because Smackdown was taped, and fans may have just read the spoilers from those who attended it live, and then make the determination as to whether or not the show is worth sitting through. Now, with a fresh roster and a live showing, there’s no knowing of what will happen throughout the show, which means tuning in is the only way of knowing what will happen live, and considering that we’ve already had a WWE Title match live on Smackdown, that further makes viewing the show almost a necessity.
Then, of course, there are fallouts from both RAW and Smackdown, the latter of which is more popular on the Network, and even those have provided moments that the causal viewer may not be able to go without seeing such as Carmella’s ambush on Nikki Bella and The Miz’s promo on Daniel Bryan. However, now going out of the realm of WWE, people who watch WWE simply do not only watch WWE. Some weeks, they may want to tune into TNA on Thursday nights, or catch a ROH or NJPW special throughout the week. Then, in addition, you must also check your calendars to see when WWE is having a PPV, and with the brand split, it appears that there will be another three hours of content Sunday nights every other week. All of this in part of the false narrative that many from WWE’s higher ups have fallen into, that more is better. Let’s address that.
One of the big issues that WWE have presented with its over-saturation of the product is that now they have put loyal, casual fans into a corner with which they will put out all of this content to follow up with all of their favorite superstars. Of course, it’s contingent on the fans to choose whether or not they will tune or not, or perhaps they will just watch the portion of RAW that features their favorite superstars, but considering that both shows are live, when do we know when they will appear? In addition, who’s to say that if you were to skip a week of programming, what potential matches or segments that may have been amazing you’d miss out on? On a random edition of Monday Night RAW in 2014, The Rock just appeared out of nowhere in Brooklyn during a segment with Rusev. I happened to miss that show and then I was surprised when he came, and subsequently got mad at myself for not being able to see it live. There is just too much to follow, and that has created a plethora of other issues. The fatigue of fans that watch the amount of content from one brand that they have been watching their whole life may be starting to wear thin, and the declining ticket sales and the ratings may be an indication of that. I also believe that the brand split may exacerbate this as well. Now that RAW and Smackdown will have their own exclusive PPVs such as Backlash, No Mercy, Roadblock and others, that’s more PPVs and added and content for WWE fans to tune into. I’ve referenced all of this, and I haven’t even gotten up to NXT, which is arguably the most popular portion of WWE as a whole.
Now of course, if you look at WWE’s roster, it’s the deepest it’s been a while. When I look at the top names, including NXT and the main roster, you look at guys such as Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, John Cena, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt (okay, maybe he isn’t), Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho and then you add in the big names that WWE has managed to add this year such as AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, and perhaps Roderick Strong sooner than later. This also doesn’t reference the female division, the tag team division and the new crusierweights. So, when WWE employs all of these men, and you have to find adequate time to feature them all, you may understand why you have all of these shows, but at what point is enough?
The point is, life isn’t WWE. Of course, we all enjoy watching our favorite superstars live their dreams and watching them do what they love, but I think it’s gone past the point of unrealistic with the amount of time WWE expects its loyal fan base to commit to watching their programming a week, and I’m inclined to believe some of the WWE faithful is starting to catch on. WWE’s brand of entertainment, which I refer to as “violent ballet”, is what keeps fans tuned in every week, but it’s when you start shoving the product down people’s throats when they start to feel sick of it. I’ve been a loyal WWE viewer and I will continue to watch the amount of content that I do every week from live television and on the WWE Network (which has incredible value for 10 dollars a month) because it’s one of my passions, and when it’s your passion, you dedicate X amount of time to it when you can. However, I am but one of a preponderance of millions who watch it, and now, it seems to me that loyal viewers are starting to become touch and go. Maybe every Monday they aren’t looking forward to another three hours of wrestling every week.
I would say that WWE is in trouble, but let’s face it, are they really? It’s not as if the entire product is in jeopardy because of over-saturation. What I believe is that the fans now have more power than ever to influence what WWE does behind the scenes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE were to make some cuts in programming or so within the next year to gain some of those loyal fans back to compensate for dropping ticket sales and viewership.