Why do fans get angry when you are critical of a ruthless billion dollar corporation in WWE?
Pro wrestling fans in general are extremely loyal and some of them will continue to support a certain brand or wrestler regardless of what that brand or wrestler does. One thing that has continually surprised me is the support of Chris Benoit. I understand there are conspiracy theorists and those that maintain his work in the ring and what he did in the final days of his life must be kept separate but I am always surprised at people that will support Benoit, despite the heinous act of murdering his own child. You have to think; if people will defend someone that murdered a child, especially their own child, is there anything that could cause them to end the support of that person?
But back to the issue at hand, WWE has a very loyal fanbase. Even the most vocal critics, who we often refer to as the Internet Wrestling Community, watch week in and week out, regardless of quality. WWE uses that to their advantage and I believe it’s also why Vince McMahon is so dismissive of internet fans. I remember when the #CancelWWENetwork movement started, Vince was asked about it on a conference call and he laughed it off and told the caller to take it with several grains of salt. WWE has us because they have no competition. Sure, there are great independent promotions, with wonderful work overseas and many of us support those promotions but at the end of the day, the top dog is still WWE and they have us trapped. I try not to be overly critical of WWE but it’s hard not to criticize when they are such an easy target. One of the things that gripes me the most [about WWE] is creative laziness and Wade Barrett recently gave a great example that reaffirmed such criticism.
All and all I believe WWE fans have a right to criticism, especially if it results in the company stepping out of the box and pushing a guy like Daniel Bryan or signing someone like Kevin Owens. And not many people are going to feel sorry for a billion dollar corporation, especially one that operates like WWE. But the most powerful message only comes when someone stops watching and stops subscribing.
Why don't we see more wrestlers speak out on social issues?
It’s risky for anyone in WWE to speak out because it could affect booking of their character and position in the company. WWE is unlike any other organization in that success is based on subjective opinions of the writers and ultimately, Vince McMahon. That’s the biggest difference in WWE from other professional sports, where pay is driven by performance. It’s hard enough to become a star in WWE with all of the backstage politics and speaking out on social issues could just make an already uphill battle even more difficult.
What do you think needs to happen to stop the slide in ratings?
It’s difficult to get a good read on viewership right now because of the Olympics and the fact that we’re in the summer months. It will be interesting to see what happens after SummerSlam and what WWE can do with their audience against Monday Night Football and with Smackdown now airing as a live show. So far, they have to be disappointed the numbers have done nothing but go down since the 2016 WWE Draft. I tell readers all the time though that compelling programming is what drives viewership. It’s not a surprise return or one well-written angle. WWE must engage the viewer by giving them reasons to tune in. This is harder than ever with an overflow of content and lack of established stars. WWE has the means and resources to turn things around and I believe that’s what draws out criticism.
Do you see the Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor match at SummerSlam ending with Rollins going over with help from The Club, thus making Rollins the new leader?
The plan as of a couple weeks ago had Finn Balor winning the WWE Universal Championship but I don’t believe that what you’re suggesting is improbable. In fact, out of the two titles matches, the one for the WWE Universal Championship is likely to be the one with some type of convoluted finish. A lot of ideas have been pitched but it will be Vince McMahon who will make the final call.
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