WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross is back with a new blog on jrsbarbq.com. As always, you can purchase JR’s BBQ products on WWEshop.com. He wrote the following about the current state of WWE:
“I’m still of the belief that, in time, the WWE Network will be a good investment for WWE but it likely will continue to evolve for the next 2-3 years as it relates to garnering a consistent number of subscribers and how the Network will be accepted and subsequently grow outside North America. By lowering the company’s overhead, cutting the fat, so to speak, WWE will have more realistic numbers in place that will positively affect the Network’s financial impact on the company.
My observations of the Network are that the younger fans want new programming to compliment what they are currently watching on WWE TV while many displaced fans, if they can be located in a reasonable, marketing manner, likely are going to like the content from the vault or programming that relates to the past the best. In other words, WWE has two, distinctly different audiences to market the network to and that cannot be done exclusively within WWE programming.
Plus, things like having their stars talk about what they watched this week on the WWE Network goes a long way in promoting the future of WWE which is the WWE Network. We rarely hear that. Same goes for the announcers. Organic promotion from all talents is easy to produced and to insert into any broadcast WWE produces. I’d suggest that WWE is under utilizing their powerful social media network to promote the WWE Network. For example, a tweet from John Cena, for example, on what he’s watching goes a long way.
A “This Week in the WWE” segment on the marathon, 3 hour Monday Night RAW seems to make sense upon first glance.
Many displaced fans, based on the info that I receive from our podcast audience, listen to the wrestling themed podcasts at Podcast One to, in a large part, take them back to the days of a different era. With that said, it seems to make sense that WWE would be well served to advertise on Podcast One to have a rifle shot at their wrestling demographic.
When budgets allow for such, producing new programming for the network is imperative and one would think that there are endless ideas that could be utilized without incurring exorbitant costs. I’m not talking about major productions like Legends House but instead timely, one hour shows that create a platform for WWE talents to expand their skill set and to perform in a different arena.
I’d love to see WWE produce more Legends Roundtables as they were fun and informative plus I think that the show, depending on the subject matter, could bridge the gap between today’s fans and displaced fans of a generation ago. It’s hard to navigate one’s future if one doesn’t understand the past.
The massive cost cutting within WWE in the mid 90’s is still vivid in my memory as many associates left WWE, like those who jumped ship when McMahon had his Federal trial, and many of us that stayed had our wages greatly reduced in the major cost cutting. HQ was a somewhat deserted place but those of us that stayed hunkered down, multi tasked and worked out way out of a dilemma thanks to a talent roster that was second to none. McMahon told me that if I stayed that I “would be taken care of financially” and he was certainly true to his word.
Cutting the fat, whether it be to our own bodies or to a company’s overhead, is never a bad idea and it appears that through trial and error in a public forum of being a publicly traded company that WWE seemingly has a better handle on what they should and should not be doing from an infrastructure standpoint within the corporate world. Perhaps some executives might have to wear multiple hats in this all hands on deck state of their business.
Hopefully, those that remain employed with WWE will do all they can to gain more product knowledge because it’s impossible to adequately market to your consumer base if one doesn’t know them, can’t identify with them to some degree, etc. I used to say it all the time when I was in WWE, how does one have a successful career in WWE in any role if one is not a fan of the genre and is merely watching the product because they feel that they ‘have to’ or that Vince McMahon might ask them what they liked this week on RAW.
I feel badly for those that have lost their jobs but hopefully they will land on their feet and positively move forward. That can be done as I can attest through personal experience. As far as the talent roster is concerned, if someone isn’t evaluating the roster on virtually a daily basis as to who is on the bubble, who needs to improve in specific areas, etc then the job isn’t being done as it should. It doesn’t take long to determine what the likely ceiling is on any talent in the on going evaluation to find the next main event player at WrestleMania. Managing a talent roster means one is always in ‘crisis mode’ and WWE doesn’t have a more valuable commodity or asset than their talent.
With that said, the talent roster will and should have it’s share of comings and goings throughout the year no matter the trials and tribulations that the corporate side is undergoing.
If WWE can get one, or preferably more, stars white hot, many of their issues will be addressed. The TV ratings will increase, live event ticket sales will surge as will merchandise sales, etc.
The genre is and always will be attraction driven and getting multiple talents hot through creative writing, spot on producing, talent development, and personal issue driven story lines aren’t optional but are required to jump start the brand. This also includes aggressively recruiting the best additions to the NXT roster possible through a variety of areas and on a global basis.
Recruiting talent in WWE might be the biggest overall key to the success of the brand over the long haul if one buys into the theory that WWE is an attraction driven business. One can’t sell goods out of an empty wagon and WWE can never get too many outstanding athletes and good citizens in their locker room.
I will say this as a matter of opinion, a TV show within the genre can’t be a ‘variety show’ and appeal to all demographics. I do think that WWE can produce entertaining TV in a PG format even though my personal preference would be TV14 but producing a compelling, THREE hour RAW every week is a daunting challenge that I’m not sure that any creative team can master. The only way that might occur is to continue to attempt to find the next big thing(s) and consider re-inventing how the flagship broadcast is produced.
Interesting times indeed in WWE-Land as seemingly as they go so does the balance of the pro wrestling business.”