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WWE can’t escape this hell of its own making

As viewership for WWE programming continues to plummet, and overall interest in the product dwindles, pundits and fans alike have openly pondered just what the company can do to turn things around. They stemmed the bleeding with an appearance by the Chairman of the Board himself, Vince McMahon, on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. He was there to introduce what he called a “Wild Card” rule, which essentially allows for stars from both brands to appear on both shows.

That’s the short term solution, if it’s even that.

The long term solution, of course, is new stars. And I mean legitimate stars, not ones branded as such by the promotional machine that would tell you, say, Mojo Rawley, talented as he may be, is a “Superstar.” The problem is WWE hasn’t made a legitimate star in many years, and the manner in which the promotion operates makes doing so nearly impossible.

Dave Meltzer went into this a bit in the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required but recommended), and you should definitely give it a read. An excerpt:

As noted last week, both shows were headed down very bad paths over the next month without a change. This change slightly helped. Long-term it’s really just a minor band-aid on a larger problem, a company needing to create stars while having an exhaustive format that makes that job almost impossible. In the long-term, what has happened is exactly what everyone who understood television and history of television could have figured would happen when Raw went to three hours. The good part is that WWE is making so much money off television that the money they are losing by the lowering levels of its fan base isn’t going to cause any financial issues for the foreseeable future. But still, this is not a good thing long-term. And the only answer is to change the format, but more, cut back on the amount of hours of television. But they are now in an economic position because of the nature of television where the opposite is going to happen. They are looking at adding more hours because the amount of money they can sell the product for is far more than the slow erosion of fans from being unable to keep up and losing interest.

That really is the long and short of it: WWE is ensuring fans are swimming in content, because that’s the current business model that is making them all this money, but in the process of doing so they are drowning those same fans. The end result is, inevitably, the death of that fandom.

This rings true with any interest — how can I miss you if you never go away?

At some point, though it won’t be any time soon, the bottom is going to drop out. There sure doesn’t look to be much of anything WWE can do about it either.

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