WWE is the blackjack player who thinks he can win money by being conservative. He does not want to double down nor hit on 16 vs a 10. He ultimately hopes he makes enough money to keep playing; and although he would have made more money being more risky, he makes enough money to believe his system works. Eventually, though, all those conservative approaches tally and he loses money. WWE is also the blackjack player who consequently tries blaming everyone else at the table for its failures. And, at times, they are right, as it is another player’s fault. However, the constant belief it is everyone else’s fault makes them lose sight of their shortcomings.
For too long of a time, WWE has never felt the consequences for poor decisions. They had such a loyal fan base it did not matter what they did. Those people would always invest their money into the product; and, as long as they were making money, the company believed they were doing what is right. Gradually, however, they kept driving away small pieces of their audience. It was so minuscule, though, that it was hardly noticeable. So, they kept ignoring it and doing what they ultimately wanted. It was one bad decision after another, as they kept getting people’s hopes up only to come crashing down on them.
And now, they are stuck in their own conservative bubble. Nothing on the show matters anymore and nothing builds to something different. It is just one big loop-around, and the minute they do something different, and it goes ever-so-slightly wrong, they dive right into their preverbal turtle shell.
They are not brazen, bold or confident in themselves anymore. They do not have a sink or swim mentality. They have admitted defeat, circling themselves around the more popular television shows, like Monday Night Football – hoping that if they put all their eggs into one basket in the WrestleMania season, it will make up for the poor business they do in the fall and winter.
And, worse of all, many people have caught on.
The rumor now is both Undertaker and Sting will appear on the Road to Summerslam. Even if this move prevails, how many more times they can keep doing this before it loses its luster. There is already a valid argument that Brock Lesnar is on TV too much for it to feel special and not on TV enough for fans to fully invest into the character because it will soon be gone. It is bad enough they have programmed their audience into believing nothing involving the road to Summerslam or WrestleMania serves any real sense of purpose. Moreover, the shock-value of these part-timers returning has worn off, as we know the time in which they arrive or come back.
So, what happens when all the nostalgia wears off too?
Will WWE finally realize it is their fault before it is too late? Will they finally realize that the wrestlers are not the real issue, rather their lack of developing potential top-tier main eventers? Will they realize that people rather tune into to see thought-provoking storylines, a wide-blend of defined and relatable characters over a show that dives into complete autopilot mode until the stars of the past show up? And will they also discover how handing part-timers main event slots over their full-time wrestlers is counterproductive because (1) it tells the audience they are not all that important and (2) the company cannot go all-in on someone who has suddenly become popular because they cannot fit them on an A-show card, and (3) these part-timers make more in a short time than most of the roster does full-time?
It is not that WWE does not have potential future stars. It is not even that they do not know how to make them. It is that they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to build new stars, but also protect their stars of now at an absurd level. So, whenever someone defeats a top-tier star in a convincing fashion – the top-tier star must get his win back as soon as possible.
Fifty-Fifty booking protects wrestlers. It also does not elevate wrestlers either. It creates a pattern of repetitiveness, which also causes wins and loses not to matter. So, if wins and loses do not matter why should we even care about the matches? The only time they truly matter is when a title is at stake. But, honestly, what does that even mean anymore? It used to indicate that someone was above everyone else in his or her respected division. However, the IC, US, Divas and tag team holders constantly lose matches – as does the WWE champion time to time. Oftentimes, the WWE champion is not even the focal point of the show.
In WWE, everything that furthermore goes forwards eventually backpedals on purpose. For example, Vince McMahon says the Authority must win at Survivor Series 2014 to keep running the show. They lose, but they are back in power in no time. Does it create conflict between the Authority and Vince McMahon – building to a bigger match down the line? Nope, everything stays the same. Stephanie McMahon suspends Brock Lesnar. Does WWE create an interesting way to bring back Brock Lesnar? Nope. The Authority brings back Brock Lesnar.
They constantly lie to their audience. They make them believe they are paying to see a shock-wave hit the company, but then they quickly go back to their regular routine. That is why stipulations are pointless now; the consequences do not even last to a point where someone can miss something. It is the same song and dance for injury angles or anything that involves someone being written off to help enhance an angle, too (bar from them actually being injured or shooting a crappy WWE movie).
WWE's wrestling has improved immensely, thanks to the installment of former indie wrestlers. Its wrestling is one of the highlights of the show. But, believe it or not, there is more to a wrestling product than just wrestling. Something needs make people want to see those matches, and something needs to cause people to look forward to those matches. That is the beauty of booking.
However, WWE is the king of conservative, skeletal and deus ex machina booking. It creates interesting situations where there is no turning back for a character or the company itself, yet they end up doing the most preposterous and deceitful things to flip back the figurative pages. They also impatiently rush storylines just to get to the ending – skipping over the important and exposition parts.
It has been one foot forward and then two steps backwards for years. Now, people are struggling to find a reason to continue to watch, and no one should blame them. The show rarely ever progresses. And unless WWE steps out of their conservative shell, they will never win those people back.