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I’ve always said that the Pro Wrestling and Music industries have very similar history, growth patterns, and downfalls from their peaks. Both of them started out organic where promoters and performers had freedom of expression while taking ownership of what they were doing. Then, both Music and Wrestling became more corporate with Media, Sponsors, and Shareholders controlling what the performers producing with little creative say.
As you can see it now, the WWE is a publicly traded corporation and they are completely beholden to their shareholders to keep Net Income based numbers are large as humanly possible (revenues up, expenses down, or keeping the margins between the two as wide as possible. WWE was once on the USA Network and then a bunch of mergers happened to where the USA Network was controlled by NBC/Universal and then Comcast bought NBC/Universal. Furthermore for the WWE, they have to listen to corporate sponsors as they had some trouble during the early 2000s with sponsors pulling out of their WWE Smackdown show on UPN due to political pressure.
Now, All Elite Wrestling has yet to become a publicly traded corporation themselves, but give them time… Going public has its advantage, as the equity that shareholders provide allows for a corporation to invest in their company and expand. However, you are now beholden to shareholders who just handed you their money. AEW programming is on TNT (soon to be TBS)… This stuff was owned by Time Warner and then AT&T bought them. Now, AT&T is trying to sell Time Warner’s channels to a Media group who owns the Discovery Channel. AEW will have to listen to their new owners, just like they did when when they had to move AEW Dynamite from TNT to TBS for Wednesday Nights. Just wait until the NHL gets pissed about AEW outdrawing them on Wednesday nights… Gonna get bad!
But wrestling wasn’t so corporate in the past, far from it… While World Championship Wrestling was owned by the corporations that Ted Turner owned, Ted gave Eric Bischoff freedom to operate WCW the way that Eric wanted to, as long as WCW wasn’t losing money. By 1995, Eric had performed enough cost reductions that WCW began making actual money and that gave him the “skin in the game” to do more with WCW. The rest was history.
If you look at the WWE during the 1980s and 1990s, USA Network was just their channel and nothing more. When WWE was struggling during 1997, USA Network could have ditched them. Instead, they gave the WWE a 2nd hour for Monday Night RAW and allowed them to push adult themes such as hot chicks wearing next to nothing, cursing, violence, and other great stuff that caused complaints to be filed against USA Network. What did USA Network do? They threw those complaints in the trash and encouraged the WWE to go further. Go win that Monday Night War and with the FREEDOM and confidence given to them, WWE triumphed with great storylines, Steve Austin, Vince McMahon’s Corporation, DX, the Rock, Mick Foley, the Undertaker, Kane, Sable, and much more.
Funny how WWE peaked just as they became a publicly traded corporation… And they have declined further as they’ve become increasingly corporate, particularly with their return to USA Network and with each additional television deal causing executives at said networks to have more say.
The Music Industry has fallen into the same traps…
If you go back to the 1960s, you have Elvis and the Beach Boys dominating the scene with radio friendly tunes. Then, 4 kids from Liverpool arrived and flipped the music industry upside down. It is a FACT that The Beatles are the GREATEST musical act of all time. There is no debate about that. Paul, John, Ringo, and George are the best singer/songwriters ever, produced the best albums ever, and produced music that is timeless. They seriously wiped Elvis off the map and changed the entire Music Industry through innovations in production, sound, instruments, and lyrical content. Then, many artists followed their lead.
But even the Beatles started having problems… After their manager, Brian Epstein died in August 1967, corporate interests began swooping in on each member of the Beatles and it changed the Beatles from artists to businessmen over night. Each guy had their own set of lawyers and it made things intense backstage. During the White Album sessions, Ringo Starr walked off and quit the band. As you’ve seen from the Disney+ “Get Back” documentary, George Harrison walked off and quit the band. Then, John Lennon meets Yoko Ono and wants to spend all of his time with her, including inside the studio. Not that the Beatles weren’t having troubles at the time, but it caused the driving force of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, to drift apart. Those two wrote songs together and now they weren’t as cohesive on the Beatles’s creative direction. They were done by late 1969.
Following the Beatles, you had great acts like the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin… But then during the late 1970s, you had a major Disco craze. Executives on major music labels began to realize that they could control an entire Genre of music. Thus, you had many bands signed and fit into the Disco mold. Things got worse during the 1980s with Music Videos pushed. Suddenly, the sound didn’t matter but the image of the band did. Hence why you have lots of glammed up bands to help sell the band visually and not musically. Additionally, you had a transcendent talent like Michael Jackson who went from adored to controlled musically and a target of the Media. The 1990s returned to some normalcy with Grunge and Gangsta Rap… Then, when Grunge bands either broke up or had dead members and Rap had their violence issues with East Coast vs. West Coast, the corporations backing these labels had enough. By the end of the 1990s, we had a major Pop Music resurgence with the Britneys, Christinas, and the many, many Boy Bands. Hip Hop has become very corporate. Even Country Music has become so sanitized.
So what is the end result of going too corporate?
You’ll never see GREAT superstars again.
When you create conditions in the marketplace that LIMITS FREEDOMS, you get what you deserve.
Look at the Pro Wrestling Industry right now, particularly the WWE. Everything is scripted from the promos, to the storylines, and the gimmicks are created by a Creative Team with hardly any wrestler input. The WWE reportedly has a Creative Team of 40 people and that is on top of a Statistics/Analytics team of a reported 50 staff members. Anything that a wrestler does or says is micromanaged by the statisticians that WWE has employed and those are handed to the WWE corporate officials. Those notes are relayed to the highly unqualified WWE Creative Team full of failed Hollywood writers.
Go back to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Austin came up with that name “Stone Cold” along with the revised look and attitude of his character. During King of the Ring 1996, Steve Austin completely came up with the “Austin 3:16” catchphrase on his own. Then, you have The Rock. Oh I’m sorry, he wasn’t called “The Rock” until HE made that up himself as something to call himself in 3rd person as an egotistical heel of the Nation of Domination. WWE tried to force him as Rocky Maivia and push him as a vanilla babyface but that failed… So they just let him do his own thing with the Nation of Domination, granting him total creative freedom to say whatever on the microphone, and he freakin’ killed it!
Then look at John Cena… He was failing until he added the Rapper gimmick and he was coming up with his own rhymes because he was naturally talented at doing so. By 2003, you could see that the WWE just found their next superstar and by 2005, he was their top guy. THAT is what made him great, as he had total creative freedom to say what he wanted on the microphone. Then, Corporate WWE neutered him and took away his rapping… Cena was still talented enough to remain the WWE’s top babyface through 2014, but he wasn’t as awesome as he was during 2003-2005. WWE became PG during the late 2000s and that was what Cena now had to contend with as the top guy.
What made the “Pipebomb” so great? Oh yeah, that was CM Punk cutting an unscripted promo. Wouldn’t you know, it got him mega-over and forced the WWE’s hand to award him with the WWE Title at Money in the Bank 2011.
Now, you have Roman Reigns being allowed to have some input on his promos… Wow, wouldn’t you know, he’s getting more over than he did before. What a coincidence.
Paul Heyman mostly has creative freedom to say things on the mic and wouldn’t you know, that guy has become the GREATEST manager of all time with his promos and 2010s work.
Yet, for the rest of the WWE roster, they are totally scripted and controlled. Every wrestler is micromanaged to what they are called, how they look, what they say, and how they wrestle. While I’m happy that the WWE is doing “Next In Line” to revamp the NXT Developmental System, I worry about how Corporate WWE is going to micromanage it and fail to train these kids properly. You have to be properly trained to work well as a wrestler in order to take bumps and sell moves… What WWE has in place at the Performance Center is nothing but scripting wrestlers to portray a specific character. The end result? NO male wrestlers from NXT, that Triple H signed from mid 2012 and beyond, has become a major top drawing main eventer (Roman was a Laurinaitis signing before 2012).
The music industry is the SAME WAY. Right now, you do have a fair amount of Female acts who are dominating such as Adele, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry. But where are the MALE acts? There used to be a bunch of dudes who loved to play guitar, bass, and drums. They liked to party, chase women, and get into trouble while writing cool songs about what they were doing. The POLITICAL climate has also limited the Music Industry and that has placed major clamps on the MALE acts on what they can do or sing about. Right now, we have Maroon 5 to brag about… Yeah, Maroon 5. Great. You know, that band with the lead singer who just placed a tattoo of a rose on his face? It’s probably likely that the 80s hair band guys took the decadence too far and the 1990s bands were probably too heavy for everyone. Since then, the music industry has gone to the extreme on the corporate side and micromanages artists to specific demographics or groups.
Don’t believe me? Take Bad Bunny, for example. Remember how he tagged up with Damian Priest to actually defeat Miz and John Morrison at Wrestlemania 37. It was just earlier this year, yeah, I forgot about it too. Most older wrestling fans when they heard this musician was participating at Wrestlemania were like “who?”, including me. I never heard about the guy until he started showing up at WWE events. If you look at how he is marketed, he’s obviously big with the Latin market but his music is primarily pushed towards Hispanics and younger people. For many of us who grew up on 1980s and 1990s music and like the genres there, we’re not listening to KISS FM or other streaming channels catered to younger people. BUT THAT’S THE PROBLEM… These artists are incapable of MASS APPEAL and thus the heavily corporate music industry micromanages how they promote Bad Bunny and pull every little drop out of the Latin, Hispanic, or younger markets that they can.
By the way, I’m still waiting for that RATINGS POP that many of you told me that Bad Bunny would bring to the WWE. Many of you insisted that he was a MAJOR superstar and would put “more eyeballs on WWE”. Nope, my friends, WWE viewership has DECREASED and as I predicted, Miz and Morrision’s careers went down the drain. One guy is being openly mocked by AEW while the other may join them soon because he’s a free agent. Thanks, Bad Bunny.
Tell me this, folks… American Idol and the Voice have actually scanned MILLIONS of people with their tryouts. Tell me why only a handful of permanent musical superstars made it from those shows? You have Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and ?. I guess Daughtry was OK for a while, Jennifer Hudson seems to be a great actress… Ummm… Well, who else? Who has ever won NBC’s Voice show and then went on to sell Gold or Platinum records? If someone did, it was done under the cover of darkness because most don’t know about him or her.
Seriously, the Voice and America Idol scanned MILLIONS and basically found Carrie and Kelly. That’s it. And ask Kelly Clarkson how much “fun” it was to win American Idol. Sure, she won the contest and that granted her fame… But there was a cost to that fame. She was heavily controlled by the record company that she signed with and forced to sings that she didn’t want to sing. It took her years to get out of that contract.
And yes, you can point to YouTube numbers as if that’s a margin of success… I hear that with Pro Wrestling, too. Meanwhile, YouTube is enjoyed by the ENTIRE PLANET and many International markets use that to watch TV shows or listen to music that their countries actually censor on their own radio or television channels (or they overprice them on television packages). I’ve always heard that excuse with the WWE but it came out that 70% of RAW viewers on YouTube are from International Markets.
FACT is that the Music Industry sells LESS Albums and Singles than it once did. It is a FACT that LIVE Attendance, overall, is down for the Music Industry and has been for the past 15 years as many older acts are starting to die off (literally). This decline has been happening for a while as there was a major reason why kids were stealing music over Napster: it was not longer worth paying $16.99 for an album for just a few songs. Funny, didn’t WWE have its own piracy problem during the late 2000s and early 2010s? Oh, that’s right, people were illegally streaming Pay Per Views. Just as the Music Industry created iTunes to combat its piracy problem with CHEAPER prices, WWE did the same with the WWE Network for only $9.99 and a price that hasn’t moved in 7 freakin’ years.
Since Steve Austin hurt his neck and left the WWE at Survivor Series 1999, the WWE has been steadily declining. They went from a show that legitimately drew 6-8 million North American viewers to struggling to get close to 2 million now. WWE used to sell out shows often in 15,000 seat bigger arenas. Now, 10,000 is a miracle and 5,000 is now the norm. Merchandise sales are WAY down.
Now, both Pro Wrestling and the Music Industry are operating in a much smarter fashion, however. Wrestling is taking advantage of struggling Cable/Satellite channels while Music is utilizing their copyrights to collect on licensing. While both the WWE and the Music Industry has innovated new ways to obtain their wrestling and music, they are both PAYING LESS to their performers for content on these new technological platforms. Artists are in legal battles with streaming services over royalty fees while WWE wrestlers are receiving less payouts for Pay Per Views since WWE moved their shows to the WWE Network.
So what does this all mean for the future?
What it means is that you’ll NEVER see a major selling musical artist or band like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc. ever again. The market conditions are not there to promote CREATIVE FREEDOM of its musical artists and because of that, nobody is picking up a guitar, a bass, or drumsticks like they used to. Everything is controlled by corporations and music executives on what you’re allowed to hear and see. Meanwhile with the WWE, you’ll NEVER see another Steve Austin, Rock, or John Cena EVER again or anybody close. WWE has become too corporate, too scripted, too analytics driven, and refuses to grant wrestlers any CREATIVE FREEDOM in this process.
Which makes me really sad when I think about All Elite Wrestling (AEW). While they openly admit to granting Creative Freedom to its wrestlers, it’s the roster that won’t take advantage of this fact and Tony + 4 EVP wrestlers are NOT the right management group to harness their talents. What the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega signed to the AEW talent roster during 2019 was a complete joke while AEW has struggled to make any sense of the ex-WWE talent that they’ve signed.
With the case of AEW, it goes to show you how important management is to a company. They should be there for upper level ideas but create an environment that allows employees to grow with the company. What you don’t want is the “inmates to take over the prison”, but what you truly want is to grant freedom within boundaries. Also, have some quality control on that talent roster. If you’re going to sign a bunch of guys who are under 6 feet tall and under 200 pounds, have a damn Lightweight Division to promote them instead of presenting them as physical equals to much taller and heavier performers. It makes no sense.
Right now in BOTH the Pro Wrestling and Music industries, you’re seeing what appears to be a major renaissance in Women in both industries. No, not really… What you’re seeing is a significantly downgraded group of Male wrestlers or Male musical artists that is forcing an increased reliance on female performers more than ever to showcase. What, did I miss something with Janet Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Maria Carey during the 1990s, let alone the other performers like En Vogue, TLC, Salt N Peppa along with ALL TIME great country artists like Shania Twain? Really? So the Female Music performers right now are better than the females over 20 years ago? Go ahead and show me which person can out-sing Whitney Houston and I’ll LAUGH AT YOU. Then, I’ll show you album sales and how those ladies killed it.
Women’s wrestling appears to be doing well right now, but it’s a FACT that non-wrestling females have drawn more than wrestling females in the WWE. Sunny (Tammy Sytch) drew at a time when WWE was down the toilet from 1995-1997. Sable was a huge component of the Attitude Era from 1997-1999. Torrie Wilson, come on… Girl couldn’t wrestle but WWE always found a way to put her on television. Ditto with Stacy Kiebler. As much as I love Trish Stratus‘s in-ring ability, her non-wrestling stuff drew better. Her match with Lita to headline RAW receives praise, but most people remember her match with Stephanie McMahon more instead.
It just APPEARS as though we’re seeing Females rising to all-time great heights when they’ve been GREAT contributors to both Music and Wrestling well before 2021 or the 2010s. There’s been a major decline in participation by quality males for both the music and wrestling industries, thus there’s an increased reliance on female performers to take more top billings. Good for them but both music and wrestling have lost MALE listeners or fans because of this decline in participation by males. Music fans love to see bands shredding guitars and slamming drum solos while singing about weird or real stuff. Meanwhile, it’s an athletic thing for Pro Wrestling when comparing Men versus Women. It’s the same issue existing with NBA and WNBA. WNBA cannot find viewers or anyone in attendance and has thus NEVER made a profit for its entire existence.
Music and Wrestling are relying on female performers, more than ever, because their Corporate conditions have DISCOURAGED anyone serious athletes for wanting to try Pro Wrestling or any males, in general, to pick up a guitar and become a musician. Besides, the political climate won’t allow for men to sing about what they used to sing about…
And that’s why you’ll never see another great musical act that transcends everything and becomes mostly everybody’s favorite band. Meanwhile, there will NEVER be another Steve Austin or the Rock that pulls in casual fans to try wrestling for a while. The Corporate Infrastructure will NEVER allow a breakout superstar in either form of entertainment because they control and micromanage everything about an artist or performer.
The dream is over, what can I say? The dream is over, yesterday.
That’s what you get when you become corporate. When you focus on public relations, image, fear of complaints, what other corporations want or will pay for, politics, and the shareholders instead of your fans, you get exactly what you deserve. A complete loss in your most loyal fans and now you’re taking advantage of desperate Cable/Satellite channels or screwing performers out of royalties from new streaming services to make money. Meanwhile, your product SUCKS and will never be as great as it was.
Our only hope is that the new recruits to NXT 2.0 or the WWE Performance Center overwhelm the system and force a breakout start to happen… But I’ll place my money on Corporate WWE micromanaging those talents and controlling all of them. Meanwhile, AEW has yet to take that full corporate leap (give them time), but they might as well be there based on how Politically Correct their environment is. They’ll allow cursing on their shows but flip out and apologize when Max Caster kills it on a rap. Furthermore, I just don’t trust Tony Khan and the inexperienced and unqualified EVPs to present us with a brand new start to care about. How can you create brand new stars when you’re too busy signing ex-WWE guys that WWE no longer wanted? Also, AEW ignoring Jim Ross on talent development is seriously the crime of this century.
And so, dear friends, you’ll just have to carry on. The dream is over.
So just chill… Until the next episode!
Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.
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– 02/13/2021 – Ask Mr. Tito – Nia Jax, Sammy Guevara, Edge, and More
– 02/09/2021 – Are WWE Wrestlers Softer Now than Before?
– 02/06/2021 – Ask Mr. Tito – Follow-up on HHH, Bianca Belair, Lars, and More
– 02/02/2021 – Triple H’s Incompetence Helped Edge Win Rumble
– 01/31/2021 – Mr. Tito’s PHAT WWE Royal Rumble 2021 Review
– 01/30/2021 – Ask Mr. Tito – Ronda Rousey, WWE Rumble Surprises, More
– 01/26/2021 – WWE Network, NBCU’s Peakcock, and YOU
– 01/25/2021 – What Makes the WWE Royal Rumble Great
– 01/23/2021 – Ask Mr. Tito – Bryan/Nakamura, USA Network & WWE, More
– 01/20/2021 – What is Wrong with Being a WWE Cruiserweight?
– 01/16/2021 – Ask Mr. Tito – Chris Jericho, Roman vs. Owens, More
– 01/13/2021 – How the WWE Can Use Nostalgia to Grow Again
– 01/09/2021 – Ask Mr. Tito – Donald Trump & WWE Hall of Fame, More
– 01/06/2021 – The TRUTH About New Japan Pro Wrestling
– 01/02/2021 – Ask Mr. Tito – Brodie Lee/AEW, Luke Harper/WWE, More
– 12/31/2020 – Mr. Tito’s PHAT 2021 Wrestling Predictions
– 12/26/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – WWE Creative, Slammys, Rousey, More
– 12/25/2020 – My 2020 Awards & Wishlist for 2021
– 12/21/2020 – For 2021, the WWE Should REDUCE Ticket Prices
– 12/19/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – WWE/USA Network, TLC Predictions, More
– 12/18/2020 – WWE Should Bring Back Jim Ross
– 12/15/2020 – Is Kenny Omega a Draw to Wrestling Fans?
– 12/11/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – AEW/Impact, Sting, 2021 WWE Rumble, More
– 12/08/2020 – Why Do Fans Hate Chris Jericho Now?
– 12/03/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Sting, Patterson, AEW/Impact, and More
– 12/01/2020 – In Defense of WWE’s Vince McMahon…
– 11/28/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Lana & Nia Jax, Undertaker, and More
– 11/26/2020 (Thanksgiving) – Top WWE Survivor Series Moments
– 11/24/2020 – WWE and Wrestlers Need Better Marketing
– 11/22/2020 – Mr. Tito’s PHAT WWE Survivor Series 2020 Review
– 11/21/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Kenny Omega Hall of Fame?, Zelina Vega, and More
– 11/19/2020 – Can Zelina Vega Survive as a Twitch Streamer?
– 11/14/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Zelina Vega’s WWE Release, Bellas, More
– 11/11/2020 – How to FIX Brandi Rhodes in AEW
– 11/6/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Sting in AEW?, Full Gear Predictions, and More
– 11/2/2020 – The POSITIVES in Pro Wrestling Right Now
– 10/30/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Jericho, Hager, WWE 3Q Financials, and More
– 10/28/2020 – 1998 = Peak of Wrestling and American Politics
– 10/25/2020 – Mr. Tito’s PHAT WWE Hell in a Cell 2020 Review
– 10/24/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Jericho/MJF, WWE Hell in a Cell Predictions, More
– 10/21/2020 – Wrestling Fans and COVID-19
– 10/17/2020 – YouTube Video: The Great Debate between Mr. Tito and Virtue – Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt/Fiend, and Vince Russo vs. Paul Heyman
– 10/17/2020 – WWE Draft, Roman’s Submission Hold, and More
– 10/14/2020 – Good, Bad, & Ugly of the WWE Draft
– 10/9/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – WWE Draft, Retribution, Cody/TNT, More
– 10/7/2020 – AEW and NBA Gambling on 18-49 Demo
– 10/3/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – The Rock’s Politics, Roman Reigns, and More
– 9/29/2020 – WWE Needs to Appreciate Paul Heyman
– 9/26/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Road Warrior Animal, Retribution, and More
– 9/23/2020 – The Rock and John Cena Returning to the WWE?
– 9/19/2020 – WWE 2K Battlegrounds Video Game Review
– 9/16/2020 – My Job Application to Join WWE Creative
– 9/12/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Miro in AEW, Tessa Blanchard, More
– 9/8/2020 – Time for AEW To GROW UP
– 9/5/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Sasha/Bayley, Jey Uso, and More
– 9/1/2020 – The Value of Brock Lesnar to the WWE
– 8/30/2020 – WWE Payback Review & Roman Reigns
– 8/29/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Roman Reigns & Paul Heyman, More
– 8/26/2020 – Who Wants to be the Next WWE Main Eventer?
– 8/23/2020 – Mr. Tito’s PHAT WWE SummerSlam 2020 Review
– 8/22/2020 – Mr. Tito’s PHAT NXT Takeover XXX Review
– 8/22/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Rene Young, WWE Thunderdome, and More
– 8/18/2020 – Maybe WWE Has a Triple H Problem?
– 8/15/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Randy Orton/Ric Flair, Dixie Carter, Kamala, Pat McAfee, and More
– 8/13/2020 – YouTube Video: What’s Wrong with Wrestling – Foreign Objects
– 8/11/2020 – Does AEW have an EVP Problem?
– 8/9/2020 – YouTube Video: The Positives in Pro Wrestling for 2020
– 8/8/2020 – Ask Mr. Tito – Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee, Rock vs. Daniel Bryan?, Blood in AEW, and Much More
– 8/4/2020 – WWE is an Unorganized Hot Mess
– 8/1/2020 – WWE and AEW Blew It with COVID-19
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