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Repairing WWE's image


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We all know why WWE can't attract high-dollar sponsors, despite drawing some of the highest ratings on cable, and we all know why pro wrestling has the image it does among the public. So my question is this -- how does that image get repaired? When I ask that question, I'm not really thinking "Stop doing *this*"-type answers, but rather things they can start doing that make wrestling a little more respectable, more mainstream and something that would attract a wider audience of fans. Recently reading about some of the sponsorship problems WWE has had for most of their existence prompted me to make this topic, and I thought some of the responses might be interesting. Off the top of my head, drug testing, allowing the wrestlers to unionize and portraying women in a more positive light are the big issues, but there are many others as well.

 

Discuss.

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Well, I think the biggest problem is that everyone looks at wrestling as a phony sport. So, if they were to legitimize it, in a Ring of Honor sort of way, that could be a good step. Of course, Vince doesn't want to have to pay sports taxes, thus we get "sports entertainment." Instead of it being portrayed like boxing, it's portrayed like a circus. Instead of press conferences and number one contenders, we get soap operas and "divas."

 

I think if it were to become a statistical sport, that could help. People love to crunch numbers for other sports such as baseball but none of that shit matters in wrestling because it's worked. I mean, we don't have anything in wrestling, at least in WWE. No number one contenders or tale of the tape or any of that shit. We get whomever is getting the big push. You either like them or you don't. If you don't like them, you hate the product. If you do like them it's "OK."

 

The redneck, white trash stereotypes and all of that shit could easily be erased. It'd just take making the product be displayed as more of a sporting exhibition. Of course, we know that's not going to happen. We get Big Vis ditching the ring announcer for hoes. We get Diva Boot Camp with staged wardrobe malfunctions.

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Treat it 100% like a sport. I said this in the other thread but that's I think the big answer to their problems. UFC and MMA will be a growing competitor for them and the wrestling fans, I think, will ultimately go with the MMA if the WWF doesn't drop the cartoon bullshit. Have rankings, keep W-L records, have shorter interviews and keep the shows 95% in the ring. Anything to look like a sport not sports entertainment.

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I don't know that I agree with that. I think they still need faces and heels, and they still need storylines. I do agree that the storylines could take a more organic approach though, and center more around this guy trying to beat this guy instead of this guy seeking revenge because this guy dressed like that guy and pretend to rape his dead ex-girlfriend's corpse.

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You can still have heels and faces. It's just that they need to eliminate tweeners. You either win fairly or you cheat. If you cheat to win and get booed that's great. If you cheat to win and get cheered, something is wrong.

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So, how do you still keep those fans who currently watch WWE who think guys like Benoit are "boring" and watch wrestling for the over-the-top nature of it? I think it's still possible to do a traditional wrestling product and not necessarily treat it like a sport, but treat it like something that tries to be a sport with rivalries often getting out of hand and things getting personal. Also, the women are a huge draw for the company and I think keeping them around at this stage is a must, but the portrayal is a problem, as is the fact that they have never really pushed a minority diva all that hard. Having Bradshaw make racist comments about Mexicans when the fastest-growing part of Smackdown's audience is Latino can't help things either.

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They should still have storylines but nothing like what they currently have. Every angle that's currently going has no place in wrestling. Guerrero/Mysterio was a good storyline up until the recent Eddie knows a secret crap. Faces and heels would still stay. It just needs to be much more down to earth.

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I have no clue how to not alienate at least some of the fanbase. No matter what they do, they're going to piss off someone. If they start treating the women as more than just objects, it'll piss off some people that only care about seeing "puppies" and whatnot for example.

 

If they were to cut back on microphone use in general, that could greatly benefit those whom can't talk. Benoit wouldn't be boring to people if he didn't have to be in segments where his opponent talks for twenty minutes and then Benoit has to retaliate.

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No matter what you do to repair the WWF will turn some fans off. But remember during the last days of WCW? Focus groups constantly said they wanted more wrestling than talking and I think the WWF would find the same thing. There are roughly 5 million viewers from the Monday Night Wars that have disappeared since 2001. The WWF should figure out how to get them back.

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I firmly believe that tha majority of the fans that were watching during the boom period are better off not watching. I believe that they were bandwagon jumpers and trend followers that just started watching wrestling because it was popular. They wanted to fit in somewhere so they could converse with everyone else and have a clue about what was going on.

 

I remember when I was in high school everyone knew that I was a big wrestling fan. I had a detention pretty much every single day and I would always read Wrestling Digest and shit like that in there. People knew I liked wrestling but I didn't talk about it to people. It was just my own thing. It was one of my hobbies, along with playing Magic.

 

Then wrestling got big. There was the nWo and D-X. Steve Austin, The Rock and The Wolfpac. It got really popular and everyone started watching it and talking about it. Stores like JC Penny's even had wrestling shirts in the display windows. Suddenly, people whom I didn't associate with all too much started asking me questions and shit. Truthfully, I was pretty popular, so it wasn't that awkward. It was just weird to see different social classes coming together to talk about wrestling. I hung out with a lot of people from the basketball, football and wrestling teams. Then I also hung out with my friends that I grew up with all through school that were in Math Counts and the Chess Club.

 

The problem was, none of them were really wrestling fans. They didn't talk about wrestling. They talked about the other shit. "Hey, Coffey? Did you see Miss Hancock dancing on the table last night?" It was all the shit that happened outside of the ring that they cared about. Sable's outfits, Austin/McMahon, nWo Vs. Sting. I think a lot of those people ARE some of the people that are still sticking around. That's why shit like the Diva Search and Big Vis still gets shown and it still gets ratings. The Monday Night Wars killed wrestling. They made it not about the wrestling anymore and we're still feeling the after effects.

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Guest Cam Chaos

Less angles, more promos and wrestling. People watch wrestling to see wrestling, not to see crap that even day time dramas surpass.

 

They really should try have characters that different people can identify with and promote them in different ways. Make Rey Mysterio the kid's favourite by using the whole "anything is possible if you believe" lines that always go over well, Christy Hemme should be pushed as "the girl next door" even though that's out the window with the Playboy shoot done and dusted, Cena's already covering the wiggas, Shelton should be pushed as the embodiment of the American Dream and draw some of the black audience as well what with him being a winner in terms of academics, athletics and WWE championships... I mean, with the Hardys, Lita, Booker T and Angle damaged goods in some ways they should try re-access the fans that made the boom possible by using their newer stars.

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So, is anything that draws money justified? My personal opinion on that is "no", just because a line needs to be drawn somewhere, and sacrificing a huge long-term event for a short boost is bad business. I think that's part of what has gotten them in the situation they're in now, although they're better in that department than WCW.

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I'm not normally one to take a fatalist viewpoint, but I can't see WWE becoming respectable as long as it's owned by a McMahon and involves wrestling. WWE has fallen so far below the radar that the benefits of any corrective action would take at least 5-10 years to permeate into the social conscience and it'd still have to deal with the commonly held belief that's it's hokey and just guys fighting in their underwear. There?s just too much baggage for them to shed, too many memories of the stupid stuff they have done for them to overcome.

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