Sting Not On TV, Anonymous GM, WWE Network Problem

The following is today's edition of Ask WNW. Ask WNW is the most popular feature on the website where Richard Gray answers four questions daily, Monday through Friday. To submit your question for the next installment of Ask WNW, click here.
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Why debut Sting at Survivor Series and not follow up with him the next night on Raw?

Sting left St. Louis on Monday afternoon, so he was never in the plans for this week's Raw. Sting’s debut at Survivor Series wasn’t finalized until late last week and further reflects the main event booking in WWE is “by the seat of the pants” right now. This is something we wrote about last week.

As for Sting appearing on the pay-per-view — teasing something with Triple H and helping remove The Authority from power — and not being used on Raw, all we can do is speculate as to the reason why. If I had to guess, I would say Sting’s appearance at Survivor Series was a way to show free WWE Network signups that “anything can happen” on pay-per-view and they should become paid subscribers for the next one. Perhaps the thinking was if they showed Sting again at Raw, it would take away from the surprise that happened on Sunday. That’s nothing I’ve been told but my own assumptions based on what I know.

And there's the swerve. Backstage at Raw, Vince McMahon told The Authority they need to find a way to fix this. So do you believe the Anonymous General Manager is The Authority?

What I want to know is if WWE remembers that on July 9, 2012 they revealed the identity of the Anonymous Raw General Manager as Hornswoggle. So is Hornswoggle taking charge at next week’s Cyber Monday episode of Raw or are we just supposed to forget that happened?

Seriously, it’s logic gaps like this that make people throw up their hands at the creative process in WWE. If WWE wanted to get people talking by bringing the Anonymous General Manager back, they accomplished that task (our inbox is dominated with questions about its identity). But these are literally the same questions I analyzed a couple years ago before WWE ultimately punted the resolution to reveal Hornswoggle as the Anonymous Raw General Manager.

Is The Authority behind the gimmick? It’s too soon and would devalue Sting’s return, unless Sting comes back to feud with Hunter and the podium, which would nullify the resolution to The Authority and once again prove The Authority is too powerful.

Is Michael Cole turning heel again? His smirk when he read the email followed by Dolph Ziggler superkicking him off the air would suggest that but this was a gimmick that went on far too long and subjected Cole to intense scrutiny. JBL is already the heel voice on Raw and firmly established as such, so what benefit is there in turning Cole again?

Let’s hope the Anonymous General Manager bit is back for next week only to coincide with Raw carrying the “Cyber Monday” theme. Maybe we will get some good WWEShop.com discounts for having to endure any more of this dreadful gimmick.

Do you think the WWE Network has underperformed due to the company's target market of children not having credit cards or the $9.99 a month? It makes the whole thing seem reliant on kids talking parents into subscribing for them. They abandoned the 18-30 demographic which has the disposable income to make the project a success. I've been a fan for 25 years but would not subscribe based on current content.

I believe the WWE Network has underperformed due to poor product marketing. As I’ve stated on numerous occasions, the service is marketed completely on its price, while completely ignoring its value. WWE has a new product that’s cutting edge and valuable, however, lost is that it’s “cheap” and not only that but this month it is free.

The feedback I get from readers and in conversations from people in the mainstream is there remains a lot of mystery as to what is the WWE Network? Just this morning I got an email from a reader that wanted to know why they couldn’t watch Raw live and had to wait a month for encore episodes to be shown. I did an entire media interview a couple weeks ago where the host called it the “WWE App” throughout and didn’t understand the difference between WWE’s App and their Network.

This is the problem. The hardcore IWC audience has already bought the WWE Network, now WWE has to convince more casual fans that it’s worth buying. However, the message being heard is that “it’s $9.99” or “#FreeFreeFree.” Yes, that’s a good price but what is it? WWE has done a poor job of defining what the WWE Network is and as a result, subscription numbers have suffered.

There is even confusion in your question as you stated you would not subscribe based on current content. That’s the thing, the WWE Network is not all current content. It’s every pay-per-view. It’s the Attitude Era, it’s the Monday Night War, it’s so much more than just monthly pay-per-views but WWE is so determined to market the price, they’re ignoring the actual product.

As for WWE’s demographics, while they may alienate older fans at times, that’s not their goal in marketing towards women and children. WWE’s thinking is they have males 18-35 so they want to expand to women and children through avenues such as Total Divas and PG geared characters.

From the Ask WNW vault…

July 2012: What are your thoughts on Hornswoggle being the General Manager of Raw this whole time? - To quote one of my favorite bloggers (who was writing on an entire different topic, on a completely different subject, here for those interested), the move was “unimaginative, lazy, cheap, and likely for the wrong reasons.” I was appalled at the decision to reveal Hornswoggle as the Anonymous Raw General Manager and it is moves like this that give me a complete lack of confidence not only in the WWE creative team but in Vince McMahon in general. Obviously they tried to get some comedy out of a past angle but the Anonymous Raw General Manager gimmick was far too big to be lightly brushed off with Hornswoggle. The entire gimmick was horrifying from square one, completely defying logic at every turn, only for them to put the ultimate “crap stamp” on it on Raw Supershow. Rest assure, WWE will not have a lack of content for their “Are They Serious?” Web show any time soon.

I will be off for the rest of the week in observation of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Monday, December 1, 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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