WWE Knows They Have a Problem, but They are Fixing the Wrong one
Written by Brandon Lewis on May 8, 2019
Photo credit: youtube.com
On the May 6 version of WWE’s Monday Night RAW, the Chairman of the Board Mr. McMahon himself appeared in front of the live Cincinnati crowd to begin the show. Before he even spoke a word, Roman Reigns entrance music hit. While Reigns is a Smackdown Live superstar, he promised to come to come to the red brand on Monday because he “had unfinished business.”
After a few words were uttered back and forth between Reigns and McMahon, Daniel Bryan and WWE Champion Kofi Kingston showed up, making it three Smackdown superstars standing in a RAW ring to kick off a Monday show. Kingston and Reigns would poke fun at Bryan and the boss before RAW’s Drew McIntyre, Reigns’ Wrestlemania 35 opponent, showed up and threatened to send Reigns back to the blue brand. That sentence from McIntyre caused Mr. McMahon to have an “epiphany”.
Yes, you read that right… an epiphany…
An epiphany has four definitions according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
- a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
- an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking
- an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
- a revealing scene or moment
Now, I can only guess McMahon was referring to either definition No. 3 or No. 4, but even then I’m not sure anymore. McMahon came up with the “Wild Card Rule” where three Smackdown superstars could show up on RAW and vise versa each week without “any penalty.” That rule was amended later in the night to four superstars instead of three when Lars Sullivan showed up and destroyed No Way Jose, whom was making his first TV appearance in what feels like forever.
McMahon reportedly made this rule because both the USA Network and FOX are concerned about WWE’s ratings, and FOX does not even have WWE content until October. While it sounds as though the brand split ending is imminent, WWE is insisting that is not the case.
The problem is McMahon, the USA Network and FOX have it all wrong. The problem is not the brand split; the problem is the writing.
Both brands have top superstars to build around. RAW has Seth Rollins, A.J. Styles and Braun Strowman while Smackdown has Roman Reigns, Finn Baylor and Daniel Bryan. Both have a good amount of midcarders with RAW having Ricochet, Baron Corbin, Samoa Joe, Rey Mysterio and Sami Zayn while Smackdown has Elias, Alistair Black, Ali, Andrade and Randy Orton. Both shows have a good tag team division; RAW has The Usos, The Revival, Gallows and Anderson, The Viking Raiders and Hawkins and Ryder while Smackdown has The New Day, Heavy Machinery and The Hardys(when healthy). In the Women’s division, RAW has Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Naomi, Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan, and Smackdown has Bayley, Ember Moon, Mandy Rose, Auska, Sonya Deville, Kairi Sane and Charlotte.
WWE just has no idea how to use the talent they have. Most of the midcarders, tag teams and women on the list above are not even on TV. I wrote an article back in 2018 detailing how WWE needs to do major house cleaning in 2019. In it, I explained why I would cut the roster WWE has in half, so they can focus on the people they do have.
WWE has too many superstars, and as a result a lot of them get lost in the shuffle on a weekly basis. Sometimes more is not better. The reason why RAW and Smackdown both had record low numbers two weeks ago is because WWE is giving us no reason to tune into shows.
WWE did make some changes to their social media policy this week by not uploading clips from RAW and Smackdown until late into the show, but even that did not help as ratings only went up by four percent, and that is not surprising. Just bringing superstars over from RAW and Smackdown will not fix the problem. WWE does not have a John Cena anymore that can just draw ratings. They have to work for it, and the way you draw ratings is by good writing.
They do not advance storylines, and they do not announce main events ahead of time like they used to back in the day. For example, If WWE announced Kofi Kingston was defending the WWE Championship on RAW before the show kicked off instead of finding out 90 minutes before the match takes place, people would actually tune in because they would have something to look forward to. Right now, WWE is giving fans no reason to look forward to the show, so the fans do not tune in at all, no matter if a big match is announced during the show or not.
Since December when this problem began, the script for the show usually isn’t even ready until after the show is live, and that is a major flaw. While WWE has had major creative shakeups over the last few months, the script should be ready by Monday or Tuesday morning(depending on the show) at the earliest. That’s just common sense. That way the show does not look like a trainwreck, and then maybe ratings might go up.
These problems are all connected. Not advertising, not advancing storylines and not having the show ready until it’s too late all has to do with why the ratings have plummeted over the last few months. While the Pay Per View’s(PPV’s WWE has produced this year have all been above average, getting to those PPV’s has been the problem, and it will continue to be a problem until WWE cares about their TV product again, and USA Network and FOX giving them lucrative deals back in 2018 did not help either because WWE knows no matter how bad their product is, their bottom line will always end up in the green
If WWE, USA Network and FOX want WWE’s ratings to go back up to the 4 million days back in 2014 compared to the 2 million views they get today, they need to stop worrying about which stars are on which shows, and they need to just start worrying about making a good, watchable product. The “Wild Card Rule” does not mitigate the problem. It does not matter whose on the show. What matters is the product on the show. WWE’s new formula should be the following: Make interesting storylines and follow up on them, advertise ahead of time and write the script ahead of time. If they do those three simple steps, USA and FOX will be happy, but if WWE does not step up their game quickly, they may never recover, and USA Network and FOX will pay the price
Brandon Lewis is the Web Director for blacksquirrelradio. He hosts a show on blacksquirrelradio.com called Brandon’s World on Saturdays from 10 am-12 pm.