Two years ago, WWE had gone through enough of a bad time that The McMahon Family felt the need to go on television and apologize for having such a bad product. They tried to spin it as a Constable Corbin issue, but that was just deflecting for the sake of saving face. We all knew what was really going on: WWE wanted to reach out to fans and tell them “Sorry. We’re going to try to do better.”
Then, they didn’t try. Or, at the very least, they tried so minimally and for such a short amount of time that they might as well not have bothered.
Now, this past week’s Monday Night Raw had its lowest ratings ever. You’d think they would be panicking even more—and some sources are saying they are—but it’s not going to mean a damn thing.
Don’t get your hopes up for some grand, sweeping changes. NOTHING is going to change, and you know it. Guess who else knows it? Everyone else in WWE.
Step 1: Acknowledging a Problem
The first step in fixing a problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. WWE can’t ignore that. The ratings are there and the numbers are what they are. It’s done.
This isn’t an issue of the pandemic being the sole reason WWE is struggling right now and no matter how much they’d like for that to be the case, things aren’t going to magically get better once COVID is no longer an influence.
You could make that argument if the ratings were bad only in 2020 once the pandemic started. However, if you look back the past 5 years or even longer, you’ll see that it has gone on far longer than just lockdown.
Thus, WWE has to be willing to say “there’s a problem beyond just the pandemic and we need to look at who and what is causing these issues.”
A Lack of Responsibility
Unfortunately, WWE is like any company or any singular person in that they are quick to play the blame game and point fingers in every direction but in the mirror.
How many times have we heard on investor calls that the reason ratings are so low is because “big stars” like Brock Lesnar aren’t available?
It’s not WWE’s fault the ratings are low. That’s the way the entertainment business is going, right? Digital platforms. Social media. Buzz words. Corporate speak. Revenue streams. Partnerships. Blah blah blah.
It’s all jargon meant to distract. WWE has people on its team and has trained specifically in the art of bullshit—just like every politician and company, mind you…WWE isn’t special—in trying to pull nonsense out of its ass to make up excuses so investors don’t back away. As long as the people bankrolling things hear what they need to hear and don’t stop signing the checks, that’s all that matters. And as long as those investors are stupid enough to accept excuses, all you have to do is keep convincing them to hold out a little longer.
WWE does this with its fans, too. Creative problems? Well, “plans changed.” Get over it. Forgive us and move on and give us the benefit of the doubt that next time is going to be better. If it isn’t? Well, get over it. Forgive us and move on and give us the benefit of the doubt that next time, we swear it is going to be better.
And if it isn’t…again? Well, if you’re not willing to listen to the cycle repeat itself again, then you’re just being a bad fan and you’re the problem.
Misdirection and Deflection
Once you’ve decided that you don’t want to take responsibility for your mistakes, you need scapegoats and ways to deflect.
Isn’t it interesting that WWE.com lists that apology promo from The McMahon Family not as “Vince McMahon, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon apologize for doing a bad job and promise to try harder”, but as “The McMahons to control Raw and SmackDown as a united front” instead?
Look at that deflection! This isn’t about them acknowledging a problem, it’s about them coming in to save the day!
“Mr. McMahon and the entire McMahon family reveal their plan to shake things up on Raw and SmackDown LIVE.” = Calm down. Your saviors are here to make things more interesting on the flagship shows. Remember, by the way, that SmackDown is live now.
Quick Fixes Rather Than True Solutions
Here is the trajectory of how to deal with a problem, from the easiest/simplest/laziest to the hardest:
1) Ignore it. Problem doesn’t exist. 2) Okay, problem exists, but it’s not a big deal. 3) Okay, it’s a big deal, but it’s someone else’s fault. 4) Okay, it’s my fault, but I have a simple solution that doesn’t require much effort. 5) Ugh. Okay, let’s actually try to fix the problem.
The most we ever see lately is for WWE to get to step 4 where the company does something super simple in the hopes to bump a rating and can revert back to the status quo.
Title changes are among the easiest, quickest ways WWE hopes to boost interest in the product. Don’t be shocked at all if TLC ends with The Miz cashing in the Money in the Bank, climbing the ladder mid-match and stealing the belt to technically become the new champion.
That would be WWE’s attempt to give fans a “WTF?” hook so they end the pay-per-view with a “must-see angle” and people will tune in to Raw the next night to see how that all works out.
They either will or they won’t. Even if they do tune in, they probably won’t the week after, cause that’s a temporary bandage and not addressing the core problem.
It’s the same as when the Brock Lesnar element comes in. WWE thinks putting the belt on him is going to solve everything because he bumps up the ratings. However, if simply having him on the roster and holding the title was the solution, wouldn’t the ratings be fixed on a more even basis?
They’re not, though. You’ll see based on the past 10 years, nearly, that even when Lesnar is champion, the ratings stay roughly the same. They only ever change when he’s promoted to be on the show and they only change on THAT show.
That’s because if Brock is a draw, he’s a draw when people think they’ll see him. Not that they’ll tune in for 8 weeks in a row where he’s NOT on the show and then just keep tuning in in the hopes that he will. Eventually, they realize he won’t and they don’t bother watching until WWE advertises that he will show up. They watch for that episode, then disappear again.