There’s a lot of interesting topics raised from the presentations at WWE’s 2018 Business Partner Summit. The video of the WrestleMania week event was just released on the company’s corporate site this week (watch it here), and it’s worth a look if you’re considering investing, or just interested in the direction of the biggest wrestling promotion the world’s ever known.
Even more than things like planning for “WWE Network 2.0” or the company’s designs on using the subscriber information from their streaming service to become a data broker, of particular interest to me was the presentation from Triple H, working his gimmick as Paul Levesque, Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative. The Game delved into the vision for NXT and the company’s entire development system. And while it won’t be happening overnight, it does seem like a WWE-controlled global territory system is coming our way in the not-too-distant future.
Considering Trip’s territories would include “career development, life skills training, advanced education, language skills, media training” for talent, that could be great! And there’s a demand for more NXT product, as Haitch’s presentation pointed to the black-and-yellow brand as the most popular weekly offering on the Network, with “more than 1 million subscribers viewing and consuming NXT content” and a 53% increase in social media followers over the last year.
He touts the success of the Developmental System and how Vince has tapped NXT stars for the main roster (somewhat disingenuously, when his big success stories are 38 year old Shinsuke Nakamura and 36 year old Asuka, with more than two decades of combined experience in Japanese wrestling before reporting to The Performance Center) as the reason why they need to develop feeder systems for the feeder system. Or “to transform the current pathway into a super highway”.
That’s where “Global Localization” comes in:
“... going into individual markets around the world, we will create scaled versions of the template we’ve created: organizing tryouts, recruiting talent, establishing Performance Centers and building, on the ground, NXT-style brands. You can already see this template starting to take shape in the UK. We have the talent, we have a UK Championship, and now, we’re ready to give those fans more.
[The June UK shows in London] will kick off the next step in the evolution of our European brand. But we’re not stopping there. We’re taking action in regions all over the world. [The Greatest Royal Rumble and the 10 year agreement with the Saudi General Sports Authority] includes localized tryouts, training, a possible on the ground Performance Center and even a Middle Eastern brand. Imagine, imagine that engagement - when a kid of Riyadh or Dubai or Jakarta can grow up as a WWE fan, be recruited by us, be trained by the WWE, become a champion in their home country, go on to compete globally in NXT, debut on Raw or SmackDown and one day, step out into a sold out stadium, on The Grandest Stage of Them All, at WrestleMania. Imagine what that could create in that market. Imagine what that can create in places where the demand for WWE is the greatest, but the supply is limited only by geography.
We envision NXT style promotions, not just for fans in Europe, or the Middle East, but also India, South America, and more. It’s the same grassroots territory feeder system that existed before - except now, not on a national level but on a global level. And all under the WWE banner.”
That sounds smart. And also imperial.
But that’s capitalism, and it’s a plan WWE’s shareholders will support provided it can prove to cost-effectively deliver the results Triple H is promising. It also still leaves room for independents around the world, as the feeder system to the feeder system to the feeder system. But, if successful, it will cap the growth of almost every other company in the wrestling business. And possibly result in every wrestler, and therefore most promotions, trying to be WWE-lite to attract NXT scouts’ eyes.
Even though Hunter’s presentation is not entirely new information, it’s a lot to digest. It’s also a long way from becoming a reality, so we have time to do just that.
Let us know what you think. Will it happen? What impact will it have on the business, and the company?