Give someone a loaf of bread every day and they start getting bored with it and want to switch it up. How about a croissant tomorrow? What about some bagels?
Take it away from them and they’ll be mad. But then, eventually, you can give them HALF a loaf of the same bread as before and they’ll thank you for it.
I feel like WWE is trying to do this with the women’s division. By reverting back to short matches, the more that happens, the more they can act as though the bigger ones that go on for 15-30 minutes are bigger deals and not just “the way things should be.” It’s probably “too hard” to keep writing all this material, even though it’s actually easier to give more time to matches and do less other segments. However, we’re still firmly in this mentality that apparently every episode of Raw and SmackDown has to start with a 15 minute promo to set up another match for later.
I also think this is a byproduct of WWE thinking “the Attitude Era was successful for us and didn’t have such a focus on the women as wrestlers. Let’s see if that’s what people want again.” Ratings clearly aren’t the way they used to be, so someone in WWE might think it’s as simplistic as wanting to go back to a previous era in every way they can, but they don’t want to push the envelope and get rid of the PG rating, so they’re trying every other avenue around it hoping that that’s the magic formula and not the PG issue. (For the record, I don’t think WWE’s problem is that they’re PG. I think the problem is a sense of entitlement that fans should eat whatever they’re given and be thankful, no matter how lazy and disorganized the content is, and that WWE should actually plan ahead and do their work.)
On top of that, I think this is WWE’s way of punishing the audience. Whether intentional or not—and I think this is more of a subconscious thing than anything deliberate, but it might be a conscious effort, too—I think WWE is mad at the wrestling audience for choosing AEW over NXT. WWE might be thinking “Fine. To spite you for turning your back on us, we’re going to take away some of your toys. Let’s see how you like it when you get less of what you were clamoring for.”
The problem with that is that WWE punishes itself by proxy. If fans don’t enjoy the show, they don’t watch the show. Fans don’t need WWE, as they can watch other wrestling shows. But WWE needs wrestling fans, as the crossover audience without the core foundation of “pro wrestling fans” just isn’t there.
So how do you fix this problem and stop WWE from going even further down this rabbit hole? You speak up, just like before.
#GiveDivasAChance was able to spark a movement because enough attention was brought to WWE that the company couldn’t ignore it without looking like they were actively putting their fingers in their ears, closing their eyes and saying “lalala I’m not listening.”
Vote with your wallet. Voice your opinions with the ratings. Tweet your thoughts so they can catch on.
Communication is key in life and when companies don’t want to tell you why they’re doing whatever their strategies are, it’s even more so up to you to say “your lack of transparency is failing this consumer relationship and we reject what you’re doing. Give us a rational explanation we can be on board with, or we’re just going to reject your product in general.”
I think this is a time frame where WWE is experimenting with trying to find out what the fans will tolerate, what they can get away with, how much more they can simplify things and how lazy they can get, and I think the women’s division is just the latest target in this process. To counteract that, you have to let WWE know you’re not okay with it, or they’ll think you are.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see a competitive match between Naomi and Sonya Deville last for 10 minutes on this next episode of SmackDown than to see 10 minutes dedicating to hyping the match, 2 minutes of a match itself, and 5 minutes dedicated to recapping what happened. How about you?