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Is "nothing matters anymore" generally accepted as truth here?


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You hear people say it from time to time, and I've said some of it myself. But I'd like to get a feel for if we're all operating from the same general place of truth: Does everyone genuinely believe that it doesn't matter what WWE does creatively anymore because they will not lose any fans and therefore, they can do anything they want?

I am starting to think this is likely true, as much as it disappoints me. This leads me to follow-up questions.

  1. In your opinion, is it still worthwhile to criticize them based on the old rules about things not making sense, not creating enough interest in their matches, not creating new stars, etc.? Is it completely irrelevant?
  2. If you answered the previous question yes, it is irrelevant, then what does matter now? What does WWE success look like, and what does WWE failure look like?

I can be nihilistic, but accepting that nothing matters anymore is still tough. Still, it would be good to get a feel of where everyone is coming from. I tend to go all the way in a circle here -- nothing matters anymore; therefore, the only valuable things to talk about as far as WWE goes are the aesthetic value of their matches and creative. And if that's the case and everyone generally agrees with that, can we agree that it's pointless to drop in a thread and say, "It doesn't matter what they do anymore"?

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  • Loss changed the title to Is "nothing matters anymore" generally accepted as truth here?

Obviously, we are in a different time period than from 20, 10 years ago. We don't have stars like Hogan, Austin or Cena to carry the company and drive them to boom periods, but they are also in a situation where their finantial side is steadily growing regaradless.

While that may look like a safe situation, they still have to be smart enough to keep business going at that rate, or at least to keep it on a steady place - therefore, while they don't have the drive to risk it all, they still have to make decisions about what is going to make them more or less money. They didn't *need* to sign Ronda Rousey, but they *wanted* to because she is a mainstream name and can give them more money. 

I seldom get the feeling that "things don't make sense anymore". Some decisions may seem stupid, and sometimes they are, but it seems to me that most of them are linked to money-making decisions and shares, stocks and whatever, and, much like the fanbase, the market can be very fickle. Recently we had four months were they seemed to be "stuck" with Lesnar as champion, and while that didn't really hurt them, it kinda looked like they would make more money if were things different. We have the right to criticize them for making stupid decisions, but not like it's going to hurt them financially - it's more like they aren't optimizing their ability to make money.

For instance: they should be criticized for the Saudi Arabia business (although that could lead to a more political conversation, as KSA is allies with the USA) from a moral standpoint, and they even may seem as hypocritical or may generate a conflict of interest with their corporate progressive stance and the reactionary views of that country, but financially they were brilliant, as it was a crazy good deal for them.

So:

  1. Yes, it is worthwhile to criticize them to a certain degree. Not creating new stars is something that can absolutely hurt them in the long run, as much as they say that "WWE is the draw", you still have to give people more than that, and building stars to a Seth Rollins/Ambrose/Rusev tier is a must; with that said, the sheer number of people saying things like "Roman isn't over" or "push Sandow" don't really understand how the business works - you can criticize them for not giving us an alternative, but not for pushing Roman, as he IS a star and does make them more money than others would.
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3 hours ago, Charles (Loss) said:

Does everyone genuinely believe that it doesn't matter what WWE does creatively anymore because they will not lose any fans and therefore, they can do anything they want? 

 

Not in that sense. They have been losing fans with their current system/booking. Last two years even RAW has suffered from really poor attendance. Ratings haven't gone up in looong ass time - in a significant and consistent way - and they will be more important than ever for the company. 

But I don't think the number of fans they lose (and will continue to lose) is significant enough to hurt them. For the last 15 years WWE has built a business model whose purpose is to not rely on 1 or 2 people and to make the quality of their product hurt them as little as possible no matter how bad it can get. And this year I think they finally "won" that battle.

I think the majority of us thought that their inability to book a proper "Ace" after Cena, plus all the other problems their booking has, plus heavily relying (and spending) on part timers could bite them in the ass at least in some way. But nope, 2018 comes around and they land two monster TV deals - even if FOX "demotes" Smackdown to FS1, it's gonna be their most watched show (besides a big live game here or there) - and a big international deal with Saudi Arabia that has them pretty much set for the next 5-6 years at least, unless a catastrophe of epic proportions happens. And I don't think even the XFL can fuck them over again.

In that sense, yes, "it doesn't matter" anymore. I actually joked in another board after the USA and FOX deals we were entering the "I doesn't matter, they got their money" Era.

 

3 hours ago, Charles (Loss) said:



I am starting to think this is likely true, as much as it disappoints me. This leads me to follow-up questions.

  1. In your opinion, is it still worthwhile to criticize them based on the old rules about things not making sense, not creating enough interest in their matches, not creating new stars, etc.? Is it completely irrelevant?
  2. If you answered the previous question yes, it is irrelevant, then what does matter now? What does WWE success look like, and what does WWE failure look like?

I can be nihilistic, but accepting that nothing matters anymore is still tough. Still, it would be good to get a feel of where everyone is coming from. I tend to go all the way in a circle here -- nothing matters anymore; therefore, the only valuable things to talk about as far as WWE goes are the aesthetic value of their matches and creative. And if that's the case and everyone generally agrees with that, can we agree that it's pointless to drop in a thread and say, "It doesn't matter what they do anymore"?

 

It's worthwhile because it can lead to interesting discussions, but I don't think arguing about WWE's future based on their product is relevant. Not until we see a crack in the business. Which hasn't happened in forever and it doesn't look likely it will happen anytime soon. As you stated, it's more about aesthetic value and quality.

The "it doesn't matter" talking point is pointless,I agree, but it will happen anyway because it's still kinda true. If you are asking for a courtesy because it's annoying or something then that's just not how the internet works :lol: I mean, you get people using the same "well, they are making money" argument from New Japan fans all the time when people rightfully critique their booking. Gotta roll with the punches I guess. 

 

 

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Kawada hinted at a point I agree with.  They absolutely should push Reigns but one of my main problems is why does it have to be "or" and not "and" ?Just because they are pushing Roman as their top star does not mean they can't push anyone else.  I mean it doesn't even have to be as strong as Roman but at least give it a shot.  There are a bunch of upper midcarders that are  more over than their push.  That's what's kinda frustrating.  I get not pushing the Ryders and Sandows even though they get reactions but the whole Ambrose/Rollins/Rusev etc, and maybe even Bryan could be pushed stronger regardless what you think of their talent level ( I know a lot of people are down on Seth and .Dean but they are over and the last list I saw they are both in top 5 merch sellers).

 

so yeah I guess it's foolish to criticize wwe's business strategies but creating more stars can't possibly be bad for their bottom line, right?

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Ratings are down. Attendance is down. Booking is the shits. They make more money than ever before and will keep on making more and more thanks to the TV fees bubble and the Saudi contract. So yeah : it doesn't matter. The WWE has entered into the "too big to fail" era, which is really scary.

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Yeah, since WWE is financially set for the next several years at least there's no motivation for them to try anything new or creative. Their best times came when they were motivated to take over the territories and then when they were getting their asses kicked in the Monday Night War.  Now there's really no more mountains to climb, and all they can do is throw their weight around to keep anyone else from getting a foothold anywhere as a strong #2 promotion. 

They could always take the view of since they don't have to worry about money it's the best time to take risks since an idea failing won't sink them, but it seldom works that way.  No one wants to be the one to take the blame if something goes sideways and pisses off a sponsor, or Fox, or the Saudis (although it seems like the only way that happens is if they see a woman wrestler in their gear).

What I do see happening is a change in the mindset that WWE is always the end goal for all wrestlers. Even if they back up the money truck for Cody and the Bucks, most will still get developmental offers below indy value. Women will continue to get embarrassinly low offers (I suppose they might be willing to pay someone like Tessa, but she might still have the "bad attitude" tag). Plus the trend will likely continue that anyone who shows potential in NXT will end up getting wasted on the main roster. Combined with the overscripting and lack of creative freedom, I wouldn't be surprised if folks start weighing the ability to have more freedom in their work/better travel schedule and decide maybe WWE isn't the be-all-end-all anymore. 

As far as criticizing them about it, I'm at a place now that I just accept that this is how WWE is doing buisness now. I don't get upset about it,  hell it even can be funny when stuff like Becky's heel turn goes completely backwards on them.  WWE is basically the Wal-Mart of wrestling now: they're the largest, they tend to not treat the people who work for them very well, and they try to run anyone who competes with them out of business.  

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It's not that WWE doesn't have to worry about losing fans. It's that fans are no longer WWE's target audience. It's television networks (who they're selling content to) and corporate sponsors (who they're selling a brand to). It's resulted in WWE becoming an American version of CMLL in that it's become basically impossible for them to go out of business. As with CMLL, that's a double-edged sword. In both cases, you'll be treated to a steady supply of quality matches if you're a fan of the house style, but you'll also have to learn to accept their often-maddening booking because there's no economic incentives forcing them to change course. One silver lining is that a lot of the sleazy behavior they got away with in the past won't fly today because networks/sponsors won't stand for it. On balance, I'd say a cleaner industry that puts out a less artistically appealing product is a net positive.

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While it's fair to criticize them on any of those concerns brought up but they're in the perfect situation, in their minds they have the "if it's not broken don't fix it" mentality. The only way I think there would be a drastic change of things if once the new deals are beginning and rating are bad. FOX might step in and them know this is not what they're paying WWE all this money for.

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Hasn't Dave reported that the median age of WWE viewers is like, 56? That seems like a pretty big problem. Their audience is going to keep getting older, and they're going to struggle to replace those fans because their shows are bizarre and inaccessible. People are talking about the new TV deals like it means WWE is set for life, but what happens if Smackdown bombs on Fox? (This seems to me like a completely plausible and maybe even likely outcome.) What if USA decides that those 2-3 million viewers that they can barely sell advertising for aren't really worth hundreds of millions of dollars after all? I wonder where that leaves WWE five years from now. 

In some sense it probably is meaningless to criticize WWE because everyone who posts here knows what they're getting when they decide to watch. But I'm not sure I buy the idea that WWE can do no wrong because they're invincible.  

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48 minutes ago, kid dracula said:

Hasn't Dave reported that the median age of WWE viewers is like, 56? That seems like a pretty big problem. Their audience is going to keep getting older, and they're going to struggle to replace those fans because their shows are bizarre and inaccessible. People are talking about the new TV deals like it means WWE is set for life, but what happens if Smackdown bombs on Fox? (This seems to me like a completely plausible and maybe even likely outcome.) What if USA decides that those 2-3 million viewers that they can barely sell advertising for aren't really worth hundreds of millions of dollars after all? I wonder where that leaves WWE five years from now. 

In some sense it probably is meaningless to criticize WWE because everyone who posts here knows what they're getting when they decide to watch. But I'm not sure I buy the idea that WWE can do no wrong because they're invincible.  

The idea, in part, is that WWE can use these five years to tap global markets (especially India and China) in a way they're just starting to. 

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As long as viewership drops at a slower rate for WWE programming than for most other television, they're in a good place. Obviously, they need to deliver viewers, but Fox was interested in them as original LIVE programming more than because they thought they'd be this huge ratings juggernaut. I don't know if I worry too much about the aging viewers, if only because I don't look in a WWE crowd and see a bunch of people in their 50s. I'd be interested in knowing the average age of Network subscribers and people who attend live events and buy merchandise. I would imagine that it's more telling about the future. Wrestling has always attracted an older audience that spends no money on any of it, but just views it as a TV show. Less young people are watching everything under a traditional Nielsen model, so it makes sense. Whether they take a public stance on it or not, expanded rural broadband and net neutrality being reinstated would probably be very good for their business. The future of online piracy law is really hard to predict and I'm not sure what the impact will be there. 

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I was bearish on WWE's long-term prospects for a long time because of the steep declines in traditional metrics of popularity. It was mainly rights fees keeping them afloat, so I figured they'd face their reckoning when it was time to renew their TV deals. But they somehow always ended up swimming in money at a level every other promotion in history could only dream of. Granted, it was mainly due to trends outside of WWE's control, so it's possible that outside forces could end up bringing them down. But I wouldn't bet on it.

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I certainly believe that they are very complacent at the moment and right now, the rating so matter very little but I think WWE knows when Smackdown moves to Fox, they will have to try and up their step creatively. Not totally familiar with the way Fox work as I'm English but I get the impression that if the ratings are below their expectations, they are willing to drop any show no matter what. As for the fans, I doubt they will lose a huge chunk of their audiences due to a lack of interest because they will always replace them with kids but it's the retention of those kids will be something they struggle with because of poor booking in always every part of the card. 

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5 hours ago, Matt D said:

The idea, in part, is that WWE can use these five years to tap global markets (especially India and China) in a way they're just starting to. 

Different companies (including WWE and UFC) have been talking about getting into those markets for more than a decade. At this point I would be shocked if could be done (especially in the case of the Chinese market; with the Indian market the problem might be less in getting in and over and more in making money out of it). But then again, 20 years ago I thought the online shop business model of of Amazon would never work out, so what do I know.

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1 hour ago, Robert S said:

Different companies (including WWE and UFC) have been talking about getting into those markets for more than a decade. At this point I would be shocked if could be done (especially in the case of the Chinese market; with the Indian market the problem might be less in getting in and over and more in making money out of it). But then again, 20 years ago I thought the online shop business model of of Amazon would never work out, so what do I know.

Yeah, but 2018 is looking to be the year that older seeds are starting to pay off with the Chinese box office totals overtaking the US after being a relatively minor player a decade ago. India and China are going through rapid development and are seeing a middle class quickly emerging, which makes them a prime target for cultural exports. Combine that with the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries looking to rehab their image and WWE's US TV ratings are suddenly looking less important than ever.

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I also think it's getting hard to critique WWE in a straightforward way because it's so incredibly easy to just watch the parts you like and skip the rest. The TV shows have been reduced to video packages for those of us who just watch the big shows. If you don't want to watch the whole PPV, you can cherry pick that, too! Things matter to the extent they give you enough to keep people subscribing and enough people watching, but the incentives to create a compelling product as a whole is probably gone. And that means the value in critiquing is finding the things that are worth watching and blasting those out.

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On 9/9/2018 at 9:32 AM, Charles (Loss) said:

As long as viewership drops at a slower rate for WWE programming than for most other television, they're in a good place. 

My one somewhat controversial stand on the ratings / popularity / viewership / whatever you want to call it is that basically, about the same people follow the WWE weekly as they did in say, 2007-2010-ish (when they were averaging 3's). I just think a lot of people have stopped watching RAW weekly and keep track of the company via Youtube, Twitter, and other ways. Frankly, I think a decent chunk of your average house show crowd or even some RAW crowds probably haven't actually watched all 3 hours of RAW live in a long time. 

On the booking, I think what we're actually finding out is how little WWE booking has meant for a long time. Good booking, bad booking, mediocre booking, WWE's attendance, ratings, etc. has been on the same slow downward trend since basically the Cena/Batista bump over a decade ago. 

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On 9/9/2018 at 3:10 PM, Makai Club #1 said:

I certainly believe that they are very complacent at the moment and right now, the rating so matter very little but I think WWE knows when Smackdown moves to Fox, they will have to try and up their step creatively. Not totally familiar with the way Fox work as I'm English but I get the impression that if the ratings are below their expectations, they are willing to drop any show no matter what. As for the fans, I doubt they will lose a huge chunk of their audiences due to a lack of interest because they will always replace them with kids but it's the retention of those kids will be something they struggle with because of poor booking in always every part of the card. 

 

The thing with the Fox deal is since they lost UFC they have large gaps on the FS1/FS2 schedule to fill, so the worst thing that could happen if Smackdown bombs is they get moved from the main Fox network to FS1. That would be a step down, but not a giant one.  It's being put on Friday nights, which isn't a high ratings night so there won't be nearly as much pressure on them.  

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To answer your base question. I don't know that "nothing matters anymore" is the best phrasing for what it is that so many of us feel. Certainly there are things they could do creatively that would turn off large portions of their audience, get themselves kicked off of television, etc. Of course they won't do those things, they will continue chugging along, pumping out the same vanilla PG content that they have been week after week, month after month, year after year.

For me at least, the feeling that I sum up as "nothing matters anymore" is what used to be versus what is.

It has become quite obvious that the current product they are comfortable putting out has passed me by, and I just need to accept that fact. Getting mad about it, or bitching about it isn't going to change anything, because it's currently making them millions, so they have no reason to change a damn thing.

I think back to when I started watching, sometime around 1986 and what things meant then. The titles meant something. The matches meant something. The stories and the build meant something. Feuds had pay offs. Guys had motivations.

Now the belts don't mean shit. They run the pay per view main events six times before the pay per view. Feuds last a month, stories have no cohesiveness, and while guys used to feud because they wanted to be champion or they wanted to make more money, now they fight because of Twitter or because they threw coffee at each other.

But where "nothing matters anymore" really comes into play, at least for me, is that feeling I used to get. That feeling that wrestling was worth my investment.

When Ricky Steamboat finally won the Intercontinental Title, 8 year old me didn't give a fuck how many stars the match would get, or how well it would hold up 30 years later. I was just stoked as hell that The Dragon got revenge for his crushed larynx! I think back to when Flair won the 92 Royal Rumble, and how 13 year old me was amazed that the NWA guy just went an hour from number 3 to become the WWF Champion. Nobody had ever done that!  I think back to watching ECW as a teenager and thinking I was cool as fuck because I was watching some shit no one around here knew about.

That's all gone now.

For all of their talk of Wrestlemania "Moments" and trending worldwide on Twitter, they have turned my 32 year hobby into a chore. Whether it is lack of competition, Vince hates wrestling, or whatever the reason. They have homogenized the main programming into a rinse and repeat show where each week they try to make it seem exciting, and they give away everything, all the while, nothing actually happens.

Thank god for comps and the occasional good indy show.

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Nowadays, my interest in wrestling basically lives and dies on trying to find as much old comps or complete episodes of older television.  Every time I tried to tune into Raw, Smackdown or a PPV the last few years, I end up not being able to finish it.  There’s no excitement, there’s no real promos anymore, wrestlers are all cookie cutter and the overall product being sterile.  The last time I was excited for something was the CM Punk “pipebomb” and when that got botched, I basically wrote WWE off.  Up until that time, any time they had something interesting building, nothing came of it.  I’m just happy to have my old territory tapes and old WCW to watch.

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  1. In your opinion, is it still worthwhile to criticize them based on the old rules about things not making sense, not creating enough interest in their matches, not creating new stars, etc.? Is it completely irrelevant?
  2. If you answered the previous question yes, it is irrelevant, then what does matter now? What does WWE success look like, and what does WWE failure look like?

 

To me, continuity and telling stories that make sense always will matter, even if it's not a big point of emphasis for the company. For a long time, it's been clear that the emphasis for WWE has been pushing the brand over making individual stars. For their big PPVs, they legitimately could wait and announce the entire card the week of the show -- if not the night of the show -- and it would still sell out, because of the brand.

I think it's also worth noting that piss-poor booking has been a longtime part of wrestling as well. I love some of the old Memphis stuff, but let's be honest, it's not like their booking made a ton of sense either, with guys sometimes flipping back and forth to face and heel and back again literally week to week.

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On 9/9/2018 at 2:54 PM, NintendoLogic said:

I was bearish on WWE's long-term prospects for a long time because of the steep declines in traditional metrics of popularity. It was mainly rights fees keeping them afloat, so I figured they'd face their reckoning when it was time to renew their TV deals. But they somehow always ended up swimming in money at a level every other promotion in history could only dream of. Granted, it was mainly due to trends outside of WWE's control, so it's possible that outside forces could end up bringing them down. But I wouldn't bet on it.

This is going to end at some point though and it's going to be soon. I think they are better equipped for the rights fee burst than the NFL is though. But they could easily walk into those next talks and only have networks offer 50% of the previous deal because everyone is cutting back. Then they could be in real trouble because that is the only thing they really make money on.

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