If you're anything like me, you think that this card for the upcoming Elimination Chamber, at least on paper, is one of the best WWE has put together in awhile. Even more impressive, this pay-per-view (PPV) was a last minute decision to help keep the Network numbers up from their free month of May going into June. That raises the question, is the WWE Network actually good for the fans and the product?
Fans have bemoaned for years how lack of competition between WWE and any other promotion has allowed WWE to get lazy with their booking, leaving long stretches of poor shows at times. However, it is possible that WWE switching to the Network as their business model over the past PPV model could change that, especially after they dropped the 6 month commitment. For WWE to succeed with the Network, they don't just need fans to buy into their big shows such as WrestleMania. They need to keep them afterwards. Vince does not want to go to his investors and explain why their subscriber numbers took a dive. So they need to find a way to keep them up during historic lull times, such as now.
That's why we are getting Kevin Owens vs John Cena in a week. That's why we're getting Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins for the WWE title. WWE wants to keep us happy enough to forget to cancel our Network subscriptions after the free month. And that's fine. It doesn't matter why they want to keep their product entertaining or interesting, it just matters that they do.
Live wrestling is what the fans want. As much as fans may enjoy the specials or the WWE video archive, at the end of the day, live wrestling is what matters. Adding programs like the King of the Ring or an exclusive PPV such as Elimination Chamber is the best bet to keep subscription numbers stable. Though I do not advocate a PPV every two weeks, they should keep airing intermittent wrestling specials on the Network that feel important.
While WWE shouldn't change booking decisions based on threats to cancel subscriptions a la #CancelWWENetwork, they are in a position where they have to keep their product entertaining on a consistent basis. And that is, dare I say, best for business.
(Ugh, now that I've said those three words, I need to wash my mouth out with soap.)
Is it possible we may be entering a period in WWE where they are going to try to keep fans around with more consistent entertainment? Or is this last month just an anomaly?