Why the WWE will continue its Humdrum Dominance (Part 1) Submitted by Going Broadway on 12/04/2018 at 06:28 PM
By J.D. Bachman
Writer's Note: What's in a name? As the writer behind The High Spot for over a decade, I've recently realized that the moniker no longer fits. Instead, the terminology of a wrestling draw better suits the state of the industry.
The current product can be compared to a long build up to an unsatisfying climax, with doses of disappointment and small amounts of favorable bread crumbs thrown in. Hence, continuing to watch a product that ends in an equivalent to a draw -- no winners, no losers, just sort of there. Or in old-fashioned wrestling terms, "Going Broadway".
However, the name change isn't just indicative of the industry, but of what the WWE has perfected over the past few years: The art of success through mediocrity.
In 1986, the USFL folded anti-climatically, as a narrow-minded Donald Trump convinced owners to go head-to-head with the NFL in the fall. Trump told owners that an anti-trust lawsuit would favor the USFL and force a merger between the leagues.
15 years later, Vince McMahon would start the controversial, and now laughable XFL. While his good friend Donald Trump's endeavor lasted three years before folding, McMahon's would end with a pathetic whimper, folding after one season.
McMahon has since latched on the notion that "this time" a new league would work, as the XFL has been announced for 2020 with the promise that things will be different.
They won't be.
There is a very simple reason why the WFL, USFL, and XFL all faltered in comparison to the NFL: The NFL had the best talent pool in the world, and they had The Shield.
(No, not Roman, Dean and Seth)
The NFL Shield -- the BRAND.
No matter the competition, even if the USFL would actually end up producing a few future NFL hall-of-famers from its league, the NFL never truly had anything to worry about.
Take the above statement, and replace the USFL and NFL with ECW, WCW, or TNA and the WWE.
The real reason why the WWE have been invading the independents has nothing to do with fear of competition, but the continued process of building brand equity. McMahon knows that with enough independent talent thrown in your face every week in form of NXT, 205 Live, NXT:UK, and possibly Evolve, that you and I will still give him his desired $9.99 a month. He also knows more signed global talent will equal more Network subscriptions from those countries.
At this point, it really doesn't matter what's on Raw or Smackdown anymore, as McMahon has long since moved past selling professional wrestling, but instead selling the WWE. (The Brand)
Like the NFL, the WWE easily has the best pool of talent in the world, and the most well-known brand in professional wrestling history. In 2016, many NFL fans protested and threatened to boycott the NFL over reasons of players taking a knee, kick-started by then 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Two years later, the NFL is doing just fine, nobody is talking about what players do during the national anthem anymore, and nothing has truly changed in that regards. This is because the brand itself is so strong. It doesn't matter who is playing, or what scandal the league may face -- they are the only league in town who happens to have the best football players in the world -- people are still going to talk about the NFL.
Raw's ratings continue to dip, with McMahon himself allegedly writing what is considered to be one of the worst Raws in history. However, people still talked about it, and they still watched this week. Nothing truly changed.
Now that McMahon has billion-dollar deals with Saudi Arabia and Fox Sports, the main event for next week's Raw could literally be Baron Corbin versus Dana Brooke in a 30-minute rap battle, and people will still talk about it, tune in next week, and tune in the week after that, or at the very least follow results through various wrestling mediums.
The WWE is simply too big to fail at this point, and as much as I would like to see All Elite Wrestling, or New Japan succeed here in the states, no major TV network will pick the product up sans a heavy investment from a very wealthy owner -- and even that isn't a guarantee.
This is the sad reality of our industry in regards to the biggest product with the best talent. There is simply no other place to go in regards to a comparable wrestling show with as much reach and talent, and as much as fans like myself would like, the current state of the industry isn't mirrored to what it was in 1993-94 which gave way to WCW's eventual rise.
The product will continue to be the very best at being mediocre, because it simply doesn't have to be any better. Most of Raw and Smackdown is barely palatable, and what is comes far and few between. We will continue to be given the metaphorical bread crumbs of such mediocrity, because there simply really isn't much else to eat.
However, the dominance doesn't just end with an often illogical, directionless product: There's more to this than meets the psychological eye.
Next Week: Part 2: The Art of Success through anticipation.