FanPost

A SWOT analysis of WWE

A SWOT analysis evaluates the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of a particular company. It helps businesses understand how they can find a competitive advantage. So I thought it would be an interesting experiment to do a SWOT analysis on WWE in its current state in 2015. So let us look at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that face the biggest wrestling promotion in the world today.

Strengths

Comedy

Despite issues in WWE’s characterisation of talent and storytelling, the company has pulled off comedy pretty well in the last couple of years. From the extremely entertaining Team Hell No to Damien Mizdow to The New Day, WWE seems to have a knack for getting comedy right. Since all these acts started out as heels, it shows maybe there is more creative freedom for the bad guys to truly express their naturally humorous side.

NXT

WWE’s developmental promotion has become a whole brand of its own. To the point where WWE’s nearest competition is probably itself. NXT is a mix of old school booking with indie wrestling mentalities. It’s a hardcore fans dream and has an ever expanding audience. NXT has sold out both the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Wembley Arena in London. Not bad for talent who are supposed to be still developing.

Production

The E’s video production is absolutely amazing. The video packages that play before matches can make a bad and illogical feud look like the greatest thing in the history of wrestling. Case and point was the excellent promo package for Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 31. There really isn’t much better hype than one of WWE’s video packages.

The company also excels when it comes to music production. Jim Johnston has been making cracking music for the WWE for over 20 years. Now they’ve introduced CFO$ to the mix, who is bringing in more modern musical styles to the company’s repertoire. Now we have theme music that is influenced by Hip Hop, Dubstep, Classical and even the early days of cinema. My personal favourites of recent times are Curtis Axel’s "Reborn" theme and Stardust’s "Written in the Stars" theme.

Talent

WWE probably has a roster that rivals the quality of WCW’s 1997 roster. There are so many superstars of both genders who can put on fantastic matches and are workhorses to the company. You only have to look at the midcard to prove this point. Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, Rusev, Stardust, Neville and that’s before we even mention the quality of guys like Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan and women like Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. WWE are spoilt for choice when it comes to great talent.

WWE Network

The Network is an absolute godsend for fans. It has created a way to relive the past, enjoy the present and get programming that simply wouldn’t be available before. WWE’s streaming service allows customers to access WWE PPV’s for a reasonable price whilst combating the issue of Internet piracy. It also allows WWE to control their own distribution. A good fall-back plan should TV not be an option for them in the future.

Wrestlemania

Wrestlemania has grown into a behemoth. So much so that WWE is looking to fill a 100,000 seater stadium for Wrestlemania 32. The event itself has been marketed into a spectacle that draws casual fans back to the product at that time of year to watch it. The event is extremely socially active and gets a massive amount of media attention. Especially when you’ve got big stars like The Rock and Ronda Rousey taking part in the proceedings.

Weaknesses

Oversaturation

To be quite honest, there is too much WWE programming. A three hour RAW + 2 hour Smackdown + 1 hour Main Event + Superstars + NXT + all the Network programming. It is way too much for one person to pay attention to all of it. It has also overexposed the talent involved in these shows. Seeing Seth Rollins 3-4 times on RAW and then 3-4 more times on Smackdown has made you wish he would just go away. It’s that old saying – less is more.

Weekly programming

Monday Night RAW is a chore to watch on a weekly basis. Ratings seem to reflect this. It’s a three hour programme constructed like a two hour programme. Most of the time nothing really significant happens either. There’s just pointless matches that we see multiple times. Weekly programming has suffered from repetition especially when a particular heel authority faction is concerned. Fans yearn for a time that programming actually advanced storylines.

Promos

Apart from a few exceptions, the promos that superstars are asked to give usually suck. That’s either because their character should be more of the silent type or that a promo feels like it’s designed just to use up 20 minutes of programming instead of actually advancing the plot or promoting a PPV. The heavy scripting also makes these promos sound unnatural and a bad fit for the character in question.

Storytelling

WWE regularly will tell stories that make no sense. That’s anything from randomly changing babyfaces to heels and vice versa to completely dropping a storyline without any explanation. Almost all storylines are short term only and WWE regularly has a selective memory about its own history. It’s a stark contrast to its own developmental promotion NXT.

Opportunities

Women

In my opinion, women’s wrestling could be the biggest growth market in professional wrestling. In 2015, so much has been seen in the world of sports entertainment. But what we haven’t seen as women truly being the main focus of the main brand. That time might come soon. The world is very willing to except a female star. The success of Ronda Rousey shows that if a woman is portrayed as a serious badass, they can make you a ton of money. I believe that if handled correctly, the likes of Sasha Banks and Bayley could make as much, if not more money for the company than the men currently do.

International Markets

For whatever reason, WWE considers itself an ‘America first’ promotion. That is clear by the recent Rusev ‘evil Russian’ storyline. But with so many fans all across the world, isn’t it time WWE started to think more internationally? International diversification could allow the company to gain more money from merchandising and overseas television deals as well as strengthening the state of the WWE network. But to do that the company has to treat other companies with respect and provide them with bonfide stars from their home nations.

Star Creation

One of the things that has been said multiple times is that WWE have failed to create new stars in the last 10+ years. Since John Cena got to the top of the mountain at Wrestlemania 21, no one has been able to surpass him as top star. But with the talent pool WWE have, both on the main roster and in NXT, it seems certainly possible that this could happen if talent is handled right. The additional revenue from merchandise, Network subscribers and TV ratings should make for very good reasons for the company to put this into practice.

Format change

Despite changing the rating of RAW from TV-14 to PG, the show itself has pretty much stuck to the same format since the Attitude Era. It starts with a promo, there are matches, more promos and the show ends with either a match involving the main eventers or a main event angle. This doesn’t have to be the only way WWE could present their flagship show. For instance, more studio segments could be used like the ones on the pre-show. More pre-recorded video packages could be used. One of the most interesting RAW’s of the year (with good ratings too) was the night after the Royal Rumble. The show got cancelled and was instead broadcast from studios in Stamford, Connecticut. The change in format on that night was such a breath of fresh air from normal WWE programming and made all the talent involved feel like three dimensional characters.

NXT Development

With NXT ever growing as a brand, there is potential to grow it even further. Perhaps there could be a WWE vs NXT Network special or PPV? Maybe the company would be bold enough to give NXT some time on television. With the right distribution models and presentation, NXT might even get better ratings than regular WWE programming. Who knows?

Threats

Competition

I’m not really talking about TNA or Lucha Underground here. I’m talking about UFC, NFL and everything else that takes attention away from watching WWE content. NFL games always seem to have a detrimental impact on RAW ratings. UFC is taking viewership away from WWE as it has borrowed certain wrestling traits and incorporated them into a legitimate combat sport. If the competition continues to drive viewers away from WWE, it could make the future very difficult for the company.

Injuries/retirements

WWE has a reliance on part-time stars. Many of those part-time stars are approaching retirement and are also more prone to the effects of injuries. That was apparent following Sting’s injury at Night of Champions. If all the part-timers that WWE has been relying on suddenly have to go away, who replaces them in terms of star power?

Injuries don’t just affect part-time stars either. Major members of the full time roster like Daniel Bryan have been plagued by injuries. CM Punk actually left the company partly because of injuries. The gruelling schedule that the talent has to adhere to takes its toll and injuries can easily derail a push or even end careers of promising future prospects.

Finances/Stocks

As WWE is a publicly trading company, it has to ensure its stock price is healthy. As the past has proved, if there is evidence that WWE is not performing as well as it should financially it can wildly effect its stock prices. WWE stocks plunged in 2014 after the company’s TV deal with NBC Universal wasn’t as impressive as expected. This caused WWE to release ten of its roster in one day. Should WWE run into future issues, it could cause more talent or staff to be released by the company along with other cost saving measures being put into effect.

Legal issues

WWE is no stranger to a court case. At the moment it is dealing with several concussion lawsuits along with a legal battle with CM Punk over claims he made about the company’s practices when it comes to the health of their talent. Should WWE lose any court case, it could cause them to shell out significant amounts of money in compensation as well as face the negative PR that would come with it. The Steroid Trail Vince McMahon faced in 1994 nearly caused WWF to go out of business. While the company is a very different beast these days, McMahon definitely won’t want a repeat of the scares of 1994.

Vince McMahon’s mortality

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Vince McMahon is the major reason WWE has been such a success the past 30 years. The man created Wrestlemania, spearheaded the rise of Hulkamania and created the ground-breaking Attitude Era. But what would the company look like if Vince McMahon were to die? Waiting in the wings are Triple H and Stephanie McMahon to take over. While Triple H is considered to be the major reason for NXT’s success, it is uncertain whether he and Stephanie have the necessary business acumen to run the company as well as Vince McMahon. You also have to wonder whether the shareholders would have similar fears.

So that was my SWOT analysis on the WWE. Hopefully WWE will address its weaknesses, play to its strengths, watch out for its threats and exploit the opportunities it has available to them. I can’t say that I’ve covered everything so feel free to comment below with any additional things you have to add.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.