Hello everyone. You've landed on Planet Kayfabe. I'm glad you could join me and I'm glad I'm still here to bring my thoughts and opinions to those out there in the NoDQ Galaxy since this weekend marks a year since Planet Kayfabe has been thrown back into orbit. I'm happy to have this outlet and a special thank-you to all of you who have read my columns every week over the last couple of years. When I started this back up again after a 9 month hiatus I had about 430 followers on Twitter. Today I am pushing 1,200... For whatever that means. I'm not like WWE and some of their most apologist fans who look at their dwindling live attendance every year and falling ratings and go "it doesn't matter because they do great on social media."
Ok, now I'm away from the pleasantries and off on a rant so let's do this...
Ya know why social media numbers mean diddly dick? Because followers, subscribers and Facebook likers are not consumers. I think WWE's venture into India already proved that but some like buying into the corporate propaganda that social media numbers is where its at in 2018. It's not and if you don't believe me I'll prove it to you right now.
Go on your Facebook and check out things that you 'like'. I bet you like some bands that you never saw live or even bought an album of. I bet you 'like' TV shows and movies that you haven't watched in 20 years. I bet you 'like' comedians that you've never seen live, bought an album or a t-shirt of. It's kinda like that with WWE, too. Many people like or follow them just because it showed up on their things to follow and they were fans back in the day. Or they like to casually keep up. They aren't watching every week. They aren't going to shows. They aren't buying products. They aren't even subscribing to the network. Social media is all free. NASCAR is struggling to maintain an audience even though they were given a huge TV deal many years ago on FOX. I've never watched a full race in my life and I'm one of the 5 million people who "like" NASCAR on Facebook just because I want an awareness of the sport and it showed up on my feed. WWE does have a generational problem. Every year since moving to 3 hours the audience has been filed down to the hardcores and the show is less accessible for kids and families because people are bored. Every year the average age of a WWE fan gets older and older and kids barely watch and teenage fans just don't exist anymore unless they are hardcore nerds.
You can tout, chant and praise the stock price all you want, but all that stock does is afford WWE the luxury to ignore areas they are failing in which I've listed above. Areas that do matter, but probably won't matter for a long time since this company is going to be tapping into to tens upon hundreds of millions of filthy Saudi money. It's that and the TV deals holding this company together. Now more than ever fan opinion means nothing, but it'll catch up with them the longer they choose to ignore their consumers. Stock is up, up, up, but I wipe my ass with that. No, this company is not in danger of going out of business. I'll never be one of those telling you that the sky is falling, I'm just saying don't overrate the stock. This company is not more popular than ever and neither is the wrestling industry. They're just held together by NBC Universal, FOX and the Saudi government now paying out more that WWE makes even for Wrestlemania for these glorified house shows to peddle their propaganda to the public trying to pretend they're some modernized western culture to the rest of the world. Yeah, if you are one of the suckers who think WWE is an active part of "a changing culture in a progressive nation" then you remind me of Ralph Wiggum on The Simpsons when he says when he grows up he wants to go to Bovine University. As for the stock, it's more indicative of the state of WWE's business in television which in the next 3 years their profits are projected to go up... like, way up each of those years. So its a smart investment. It's not because big dogs and hounds of justice and dogs of war and whatever asinine canine references they slap on a t-shirt. I'll put it this way do you remember Blockbuster Video? Would you be surprised to know that their stock was at its peak in 2002 and they had their most open locations in 2004? 3 years later they were hanging on by a thread. Today they are a defunct nostalgic relic of the past. If you think that's an unfair comparison, then how about Major League Baseball? They have a lot of the same problems WWE has. An aging fanbase, games that are too long, and trouble marketing their stars to younger fans compared to other leagues like the NFL and NBA. They may not be in danger of "going out of business" but the lack of drawing in live viewers and fans into games that aren't a Championship or World Series are very real and for the first time in decades it almost seems like we could be growing up in an age where kids just aren't into wrestling. Congratulations on WWE and all their Wall Street success, but a former CEO at Circuit City once said the 60 year old retailer closed down when they stopped caring about the consumer and only cared about Wall Street in the later years...
...However like I said WWE will be profitable for years to come without you or me with these new TV deals and being in bed with Saudi political elites. Which is good that they'll be around for us and the workforce, but it does take some of the fun out of it as a consumer when our voices really mean nothing to them and our dollars barely mean anything to them. They don't book for us or for the talent. They don't write to entertain us. They write to entertain Vince and to appease sponsors and network executives.
Now that that's out of the way why we are really here is to talk about the end of Rusev Day which happened this past week on Smackdown when Aiden English, fed up with his partner, turned on him because he believes that he is the true reason he got Rusev Day over... which he's not entirely wrong, but it's WWE and logic need not apply even though heels are supposed to lie.
"Rusev Day" started to get over last fall, but WWE was pretty slow to capitalize on its popularity. Fans were chanting "Rusev Day" enthusiastically during the Wrestlemania pre-show, but creative didn't have much for them. Again, it was another case of a guy getting over as a babyface that they really didn't want to get over and they kept him heel and a rather low-profile heel as well throughout the year. The act maintained popularity with them being pseudo-babyface but sometimes heel. They teased a break up, then they would quietly get back together. Lana came back into the fold with Rusev where she said Aiden was holding him back and the next week they were all good friends. Months later Aiden becomes the bumbling sidekick ruining their fortune in the ring and Rusev tells him to piss off. They randomly become cool because he helped them once. Now on Smackdown Aiden buries Rusev and Lana to some guy backstage, is caught in the act by Lana and yeah you know the rest. If you're confused, you should be because this has been a cluster of a story. They've been gun shy with both turning the act babyface and breaking them up.
My question is, now that they are broken up, who will it benefit?
The main concern I have is that no one will. You may think the act has run its course, but like New Day it still gets a reaction. Rusev, in his US Championship match with Nakamura was over huge. The fans really wanted to see Rusev win. He hit the Machka Kick. The fans went wild.
Here's where I think they should have called and audible and had Rusev win the title and just have Aiden later apologize saying he was wrong about his friend after watching him win the title clean.
Instead, they went for heat because that's all the geek soap opera writers know. They went for heat by having English spew nonsense on the mic.
No one cared.
Rusev lost in a roll up... because... OF COURSE he lost in a roll up.
Aiden English turned. There were muttering boos but no one really cared. In fact, they're unhappy because, first of all, Aiden was right and the fans know it when he said Rusev Day got popular and also because this is the end of an act they still want to enjoy and aren't ready to say farewell to yet.
So, instead of the popular Rusev holding a belt leading Rusev Day to a new level we get a generic break up fued. And don't tell me "oh wait and see you can't say its generic yet". Look, people. I can't lie to you. I can't say "maybe there's a chance both parties will come out for the better" if I think there is very little chance of this.
What's going to happen is they are going to wrestle your typical 50/50 feud over nothing. Aiden is going to win with heat and in the end Rusev is going to beat his boy and then what? Is English going to get some big singles push? No. Is Rusev? Probably not. The whole Rusev Day act turned him babyface to begin with. Now he's just Rusev with his wife like his early heel run and they'll probably still continue the chant, because it's a chant, but that's it. That's all Rusev Day will be. A chant. As for Aiden, he will probably just be paired up with someone else or a pre-show regular. Maybe with Maryse going off TV he and some other geek will be paired with Miz to form a new Miztourage. That's really the best case scenario. They aren't going to turn skinny, pale, balding Aiden English from Rusev's sidekick to serious solo act.
As for Rusev, he'll be okay, but just okay. Again, chanting "Rusev Day" without Aiden there to sing it (which is what really got it over) would just feel like a shell of something that was once an organic popular routine. So what else can you do? Turn the guy heel? I guess, but they wouldn't have to turn yet another popular superstar heel if they just listened to the fans in the first place and had him win the United States Championship on Smackdown and keep the group together to celebrate with the fans. I like Nakamura, but he's not hot right now. He was even off TV for 2 or 3 weeks including the PPV Hell in a Cell last week. It was time for Rusev to have a title and I really feel they missed the boat there to really have a nice moment on the show that the fans would enjoy live and at home and it would also give Rusev a little boost. Yeah, the belts are basically just props now, but when given to someone at the right time the people will still care about these scripted wins and if Rusev won it could have been a special moment for him.
Instead, WWE does what they only know how to do now which explains a lot how they SUCK and I do mean SUUUUUCK at booking babyfaces in this era and that's book heat. More heat. Pile on the heat. Yeah until people stop caring. Case and point the Bryan/Miz feud. Heat on Miz. Heat on Miz. Heat on Miz. Does anyone care about their match in Australia now? Not really because it's like NO SHIT Bryan is going to win. He HAS to win to maintain some credibility now and have all this heat be worth it.
So, you may think I'm being negative, but it's just how I see it. I don't see a big, creative, clever, hot fued between these two. No, I see Rusev wrestling some random geek on Smackdown and then Aiden's music is going to hit or he's going to go on stage and start singing to distract Rusev and then he is going to lose in a roll up again. Yeah. That's what I see. Roll ups on distractions and pointless heat segments en route to a 50/50 feud that ends with Rusev getting the last laugh before both guys go on to just be mid-level singles guys instead of being a hot trio coming out next week to celebrate their huge United States Championship victory and having a blast with their adoring fans.
Thank you for reading, everyone. I truly appreciate it and I hope you have a good weekend. I'll be coughing up WWE PPV reviews soon so its nice to get a good opinion piece out before we go on this stretch of Super Showdown, Evolution and Crowned Propaganda Cash Grab.
Here's to another year of Planet Kayfabe staying in orbit in the NoDQ Galaxy again. Thanks to all of those who continue to read and you new ones out there are certainly welcome to follow me over on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe where I enjoy interacting with all of you and always live-tweet WWE events like Raw, Smackdown and the 30 or so PPV's they run every year.
That's it for this week. I'll be back next time right here on NoDQ. Take care.