Breaking Down Daniel Bryan’s Injury, Why People Aren’t Buying WWE Network, Explaining Limited Spots

When and how did Daniel Bryan get his injury?

It’s my understanding that Daniel Bryan’s injury was an accumulation of injuries that resulted in foraminal stenosis. In foraminal stenosis, a nerve root is compressed inside the neural foramen. The compression is the result of wear and tear on the spine. This is why Bryan underwent a procedure known as a cervical foraminotomy. You can read about the initial procedure at this link and get more details from a medical perspective at this link.

The second surgery that has been talked about deals with his elbow, not his neck. Apparently it’s a nerve injury there that’s causing him not to re-gain the strength in his arm. Bryan talked about that in a press conference after apprehending a burglar at his house. You can read my report from last month at this link.

Obviously neck and nerve injuries are serious, complicated and unpredictable. I can tell you from WWE’s side the company has labeled him as “out indefinitely” and he is not currently in any creative plans. This could change if he receives a timetable as to when he would be eligible to return. However, a timetable is difficult because it all depends on how the nerve injuries heel.

I am a huge wrestling fan and was excited about the WWE Network. I signed up for it the first day it was available. Now after seeing the numbers, I am wondering if there is a such thing as too much wrestling. Could product over-saturation be the culprit for people not buying the WWE Network?

Over-saturation is a problem with WWE and I believe it’s one of the reasons why Raw viewership isn’t what it once was (especially considering the amount of viewers that tune out for the third and final hour). I’ve said since the beginning that a three hour show each week with pre and post shows is too much of a commitment. However, I do not believe this is directly the reason people are not buying the WWE Network as expected.

As I noted on Tuesday, hardcore wrestling fans in the United States have already subscribed to the WWE Network. That number as of June 30, 2014 was 700,000. These are people like me and you that see the value in a $9.99/month to get all the WWE Network has to offer. WWE has to find a way to get more casual fans to sign up. This can be accomplished by selling the monthly pay-per-views and it’s imperative that WWE explain the pay-per-views “come with” a subscription. A tactic was used on this week’s episode of Raw, with the constant 9.99 mentions. I don’t know what you thought about it but I found it annoying, if not desperate.

WWE is now moving into international markets to see where that can take them and will look to adjust accordingly. I’m not saying they are giving up domestically, but they’ve seen little growth from April to June. Now they want to see what they have internationally. It will be interesting to see how the WWE Network evolves from this point forward.

Far too often, talented workers like Dolph Ziggler, Fandango, Damien Sandow and R-Truth continue to get buried with no story lines even on the horizon for them. The most annoying part about all this is that I hear the reasons are mainly that the writers are too busy or uninterested, and yet there clearly are too many hours of wrestling on every week, thus making enough opportunity for every worker to have some kind of a storyline and yet nothing happens. What’s your take on this?

It’s very easy for us to sit here and fantasy book, fitting everyone neatly into a storyline and restoring them to relevance. Executing such a plan is much more difficult. What a lot of people fail to understand is there are very few spots for workers on television and even fewer spots for the coveted main event spots. Currently, there are 16 performers advertised for the SummerSlam lineup. Those performers are as follows – John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt, CHris Jericho, Brie Bella, Stephanie McMahon, Jack Swagger, Rusev, AJ Lee, Paige, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.

WWE’s updated business model is based on the following key drivers (as stated by Vince McMahon in last week’s conference call) – domestic live event attendance, TV ratings and WWE Network subscriptions. While there are many other revenue streams, this is the core of WWE’s business. All three of these “key drivers” play off one another. Higher ratings mean higher live event attendance, which means a larger possibility of attracting WWE Network subscribers.

As I discussed above, WWE has to sell Network subscriptions based on the fact the pay-per-views are included (they are the main WWE Network selling point; without them, the WWE Network would not work). Now, we have to go back to the 16 performers on SummerSlam. Live events and television must prominently feature these performers in a way that makes logical sense to make people want to sign up for the WWE Network to watch the pay-per-view.

Now this doesn’t explain the ridiculousness of Damien Sandow’s gimmick or pairing Hornswoggle with Fandango (other than highlighting that Vince McMahon has a very strange sense of humor), but it does provide some perspective. WWE’s core programming must focus on 16 performers and include filler material that provides humor and entertainment without overshadowing the 16 aforementioned performers. Not to mention the structure when looking at the SummerSlam card in that the main event matches have to have more attention and relevance than the undercard programs.

What I don’t understand is that we’re less than two weeks away from a “big four” show and a pivotal time in which WWE must not only attract new WWE Network subscribers but retain the ones they have and the main takeaway from this week’s 3-hour Raw broadcast was $9.99. However, it’s hard to sell a main event of John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar solely on pre-taped video packages.

From the Ask WNW vault…

March 2013: Did WWE ever think the reason for viewership dropping in the third hour of Raw is because the show doesn’t end until 11:15 and young audience isn’t up until that time especially a Monday night with school the next day? - WWE pursuing a younger audience could be a culprit for viewers tuning out for the third and final hour of Raw, however, I do not feel this is the reason. Prior to WWE taking Raw to a three-hour format, the 10-11 hour was always the most watched hour. WWE PG began in 2008 so the audience has been getting younger since then. My belief is viewers are suffering from viewer fatigue and are tuning out for the third and final hour.

Questions that are legible stand the best chance of getting answered. The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Thursday, August 7, 2014.

You can submit a question for the next installment of Ask WNW at this link. If you have problems with the form, you can send your question to AskWNW@wrestlingnewsworld.com.

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  • Rachel Miller

    I got a question regarding WWE Creative: they say that WWE Creative nothing have anything for a particular Superstar but for some reason, WWE Creative always find something for John Cena, even though it may not be for a championship. Could it be that the WWE wants certain performers like Cena on TV and what would happen should WWE Creative not have anything for Cena? Thanks!

    • Ben

      Of course WWE wants Cena on TV. It’s been proven the guy is the company’s biggest draw and if I’m not mistaken he still sells the most merchandise. They may not have a long-term program, but they’ll always have something for him. When those guys who don’t have a storyline can draw anywhere near the level Cena does, Creative make it a bigger priority to find something for them. That’s not to defend Creative, it’s just how things operate.

      • Rachel Miller

        Good point. There are certain guys like John Cena, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Daniel Bryan, Triple H, and Randy Orton who draw while guys like Dolph Ziggler and Ryback do not.

  • jdl

    I’m not subscribed to the Network because it isn’t available in Canada. Seeing how poorly it’s been marketed and how slowly they’re bringing content online has changed my mind about subscribing to it when it reaches Canada. Sad part is if they had released it in Canada at the same time as in the US, I”d be subscribed right now and the negligible price would have kept me subbed even if I only watched the PPVs.

    • Venom

      I’m in canada too and I hate that it’s not going to be the same as US.

    • http://www.wrestlingnewsworld.com/ Richard Gray

      One thing of note here, the PPVs alone make the WWE Network worth owning unless you have another way to watch the PPVs. Certainly we want you to follow our live coverage but 9.99/month for all the pay-per-views is still a bargain regardless of what is or isn’t in the library.

  • Venom

    The problem with the thinking behind international network subscribers is that a lot of them have found a way to get the network. Even the guys from the LAW mentioned having it and it wasn’t that hard. Some people put their home address as the WWE headquarters and WWE never caught on.

    As for RAW being 3 hours and workers being buried. Isn’t it funny how guys like Zack Ryder were getting TV time and once RAW went 3 hours he stopped appearing as well as many other workers? This past RAW I kept seeing promos and vignettes repeat themselves.

  • David C

    That’s a poor excuse in my opinion for the reason the shows are full of unnecessary filler that neglect to showcase the talent in the company.

    I remember on the build up to the Rock vs Austin for WM 19 (i believe) that the Rock had an entire mini feud with the Hurricane before Mania and the end result had the Hurricane going over the Rock.
    It was a brilliant stop gap feud that the crowds were loving. Brilliant booking.

    Now we just get crap shoved together for no reason and feuds that only get announced a day before the PPVs. It’s poor writing. They like to say they’re the number one in the world, yet they seem to be regressing. Especially whenever Vince is the main creative force.

    • Rayner Chee-bai

      Vinnie Mac’s has already long lost

  • The Spinebuster

    Few points here

    1) I am secretly hoping Bryan returns for RR and wins it like he should of this year that would be incredible

    2) Creative decisions are wierd. just like Bo Dallas losing to R TRUTH last week ( a guy that is talented but been buried for far too long with no direction whatsoever) and then he loses to Bo this week so what was the point of killing his push?

    3)WWE has bored me for a while storylines are stale and they are just struggling at the moment.

    • Padres4life

      then what happens to Reigns?

  • Kevin Taylor

    That last answer was on point.

  • Super Crazy

    I’ll be getting the network when it hits New Zealand pretty much just as a cheaper option for ppvs.

    No problem at all with a three hour Raw. I record it, fast forward the adds, divas, Bo Dallas etc and it comes in just under two hours.

    As far as getting everyone on tv with a storyline, there should be no issue what with the many hours of wrestling televised each week. A feud should be allocated depending on the status on the card of the worker to a particular show. Giving workersa storyline that fans buy into is why Swagger segments are now watched and not fast forwarded.

    Regarding giving everyone a storyline and at the same time keeping the product fresh. Rotate your workers. There is no off season so give everyone an off season staggered throughout the year. Despite the booking, having RVD and Jericho come back on short stints gives the viewer something different to watch. Or you could have writers allocated specific levels of the card, main event, mid card etc. This would focus their energies whilst at the same time keeping the writers on their toes due to internal competition. Writers could then get promoted or demoted up or down the card like the wrestlers.

    • CDunfee

      People always use the excuse of lack of use of the secondary belts is that there are too many titles.There is no reason with six hours of television, we can’t have interesting feuds utilizing every title on the roster. Back during the Monday Night Wars, they found a way to utilize every title from the European to the Hardcore to the WWE Championship, have a legit tag team division, have a storyline for everyone from Crash Holly to Stone Cold with ONLY TWO HOURS of television each week.

      • Mario

        Very Good Reminder …

  • packerpf

    5 matches worth watching at summer slam, bray vs Jericho, miz vs ziggler, randy vs reigns, and ambrose vs rollins and paige vs aj.

  • Lefty Tosser

    Richard, I think there are points with the Network that are being missed. One big point is the number of households that do not have the internet on their tv. Why would I watch a 21″ screen on my laptop when I have a 65″ tv for everything else? I know I could hook the laptop up to the tv, but why do it just for some extra wrestling shows? We don’t have a play station, X box or other gaming devices in our home, so it would all have to come through the laptop. No thanks! Secondly, the generation we live in is a NOW generation. There is not a ton of interest, except from really hardcore fans, to go back and watch the 80′s & 90′s, even though those were obviously the glory days of wrestling.

    As far as creative and writing good programming, the problem is that the creative team is not looking longer term in anything they do. Whether it be because of dealing with Paul or with VKM or whomever, there is no long term vision for each character. I know this won’t be a popular comment, but the one thing TNA had going for it a year ago and even a few months ago, was the longer term vision and build within story lines. The WWE has more talent than they need, but their creative process sucks. If they would take the top 8 – 10 workers and continue doing whatever they want to do (follow VKM’s lead and quirkiness) but then take the next 20 workers and decide where they want them to be in 6 months or a year. Build the story plan to get them to that point and follow it! They would have a much better program over the next year as they build towards the ultimate spot for each worker. The talent is there, they just need to plan better.

    • _lawrenc1

      So it’s not worth it to you to spend $50 or so on an HDMI cable? That’s about the cost of one WWE PPV. You can use your TV as a huge monitor screen for other purposes with your computer, also.

      • Lefty Tosser

        If it was just a matter of a cable, then it would not be a big deal. Our tv is mounted into the wall in the media room, so it would be a little more involved than plugging in a cable. This is also part of the reason the 65″ tv hasn’t been replaced with a newer tv. And to answer your other point, the only PPV I purchase is Wrestle Mania. The others generally are not good enough to spend any money on. Why not just watch them online for free? And it doesn’t take a rocket scientists to find them streaming for free?

        • http://www.wrestlingnewsworld.com/ Richard Gray

          Even if you only order Wrestlemania, the WWE Network is still a bargain given the content you get. As for the “why not watch them for free?” I’m not a moralist, so I don’t care what people do but it’s still illegal.

          As for your big screen problem, there has to be a way to get an HDMI cable (or an A/V cable) from your device to your TV. All TVs need connections for cable boxes, DVD/Blu-Ray players, heck even to be turned on you have to have a path for the power cord. It’s really quite simple these days to hook not only a computer up to a TV but any device. Alex Barie watches the PPVs on his iPad (I’m actually jealous of this setup as I have the original iPad that can only stream MLB.tv and I do not have the cord to hook it to my television).

          Anyways, I’m not a WWE defender but I think the WWE Network more than justifies the money even if the only thing you use it for is the pay-per-views.

          • Lefty Tosser

            Richard, I understand your point and if the watching older programming was something I was interested in, I would probably go through the trouble. But having my laptop sitting on the floor next to the wall with the tv after having to pull the tv out to add a cable just isn’t appealing to me. And I’m not going to leave a cord hanging out just so I can hook up the laptop. Besides, I have enough old WCW, WWE, ECW and others old programming recorded that I really don’t ever watch.
            As far as the price being worth it, again in my opinion, the other PPV’s the WWE puts on really aren’t worth watching live. I can pick up what I want to see other places on the net. And if Wrestle Mania ever starts to cost $120, then I probably won’t watch it either.
            The Network is Vince’s deal as another way to control the entire content of the WWE. He has that right and I have the right not to pay for it.

          • http://www.wrestlingnewsworld.com/ Richard Gray

            What I’m saying is you could get 6 months of WWE Network for less than the price of Wrestlemania

          • Lefty Tosser

            But I would still pay for the PPV of Wrestle Mania to watch it the larger tv with friends. My point is that once you get past the est. 1M true wrestling fans that watch pretty much anything that is on, there is a much larger group that watch RAW but either don’t have smart tv’s or are not interested enough to add a cable to hook up their computers to the tv. Personally, I’m not going to screw up the look of our media room just to have old programming that I would rarely watch.
            One thing that the IWC hasn’t figured out yet is that right now there are far more non IWC fans than the IWC as a whole. The over 30 crowd is still the larger group and we don’t jump at everything that the internet brings through a portal.
            I think it will be interesting to see how the Canadian market works out. I would be more interested if the Network was an option with our tv provider. Not $120 a year interested, but more than I am now. I hate to say this, but it’s kind of like my premium membership to this site. If the interest level was higher with more fresh info that I can’t get elsewhere I would probably still be a member here.
            While I do like the site, I don’t like it $60 a year worth. Sorry, don’t want to hurt any feelings, but it is what it is for me.

            The next big interesting thing will be to see if the major internet providers (that are also tv providers) will be able to legally block the Network on their access points. A couple of the providers are already exploring this situation in other cases. The legality of whether they have to provide access will potentially be a very interesting discussion and possible battle.

          • Evon Callaway Bitterweed Reese

            I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. If it was offered on Dish for 9.99 a month I would buy it.

  • John

    Remember when John Cena returned from neck surgery after only 3 months… Perhaps Daniel Bryan needs to ask Cena what kind of steroids he was on!

  • Cubed56

    Firmly agree with lefty tosser’s comment below. On top of that, IMO as a lifelong and avid wrestling fan, the network is very disappointing as far all the content it’s missing.

  • ldb

    I hope Bryan gets fully recovered. It seems when he is injured it does take him awhile to recover. It worries me and I hope he career is not cut too short due to these injuries.
    For myself I have found that the network is far better than the crap on tv. I love getting to post on the WNW community and seeing everyones thoughts, but I have found myself doing that less and less lately because I just can’t watch it when the show is on TV. The “over saturation” is the never ending recaps. I just dvr and rewatch the actual wrestling stuff. Not the recaps, or backstage advertising plugs, but the maybe 1 hr of wrestling on a 3 hour show that’s not worth 9.99. I like being able to watch the good older stuff. The Good stuff today comes few and far between.

  • David F

    I know it will never happen but WWE needs an off season its clear writers are burned out from daily grind and performers too. you can do it after Extreme Rules for couple months in Summer until build up for SummerSlam in july or after Summerslam since Monday night football dominates rating anyway.

    I am going renew my subscription just because great deal watch Night of champions Hell in Cell and Survivor Series for basically 60 when each of them used cost 60 on their own. you know WWE is going go all out on Night of Champions too to keep people interested in the network. The problem I have is glitches in streaming That needs to be sorted out.It will not look good for WWE if Brock v Cena stream sucks in middle of match

  • Padres4life

    when Bryan gets back it’ll be the biggest pop ever..he’ll save the WWE

    • Jay El Bee

      Save the WWE from what, having good shows. The WWE has been far better over the past 3 months than it was at any point over the previous 9-10 months.

  • JR Texx (Jamie)

    If WWE released a Netflix app where you can choose what to watch instead of an actual channel.. it probably would have done better,