by. Anthony Folden
Let's get one thing straight:I am not a writer or blogger. I have never attempted. I am just a wrestling fan who was motivated to discuss an issue that I have noticed for some time now. Fortunately, one of my best friends and longtime wrestling pal is a consistent writer for the Internet.His name is Andrew Johnson, and has always encouraged me to share my thoughts through professional wrestling blogs, but I had no motivation let alone any interest. That is until Battleground went off the air. A nerve was struck. The only way I could let out my thoughts is on this keyboard. Welcome, motivation. It’s been a long time coming.
I began watching wrestling in 1990, just in time for Wrestlemania VI. I was hooked after witnessing the Ultimate Warrior having an intense stare down with Hulk Hogan and seeing The Rockers quickness and agility against The Orient Express. One viewing was all it took and I was in for life. I've seen it all since then. I've seen the good and bad. Now, 24 years later, I still see the good and bad. Unfortunately, the good mostly happens on Monday nights on the USA Network.
According to sources, the WWE is having financial difficulties and is in dire need of boosting WWE Network subscribers. Now, people like me? That’s an easy sell. $10.00 for every "special event", the entire WWE, WCW & ECW PPV library, old school wrestling programs, plus some original content? Sign me up! But, what about those fair weather fans that only check-in from time to time? You know who I'm talking about. The fans who tuned in at one time (most likely the attitude era), respected the art form, enjoyed the storytelling & drama, appreciated the athleticism, but then fell off after the excitement wore thin. Now they just check in sporadically, read the results online or ask a friend about what's happening. How are they convincing those people to buy the network? Is it the original content? No, there barely is any. Is it the old Raw and Smackdown episodes? Nah, the full library isn't even available yet. Ah ha, it must be the PPV library? Doubtful. I’m assuming that is not very appealing to someone not fully engaged in pro wrestling. Then it must be the "special events", right?
What is a special event? What makes it special? Is it the anticipated matches? Is it the climax of a great rivalry? Or is it just the unexpected? I guess either three would suffice. But, is that always the case? By and large most of the wrestling headlines happen on the cable TV show Monday Night RAW. That’s not to say that absolutely nothing exciting happens during the “special events” however it is apparent that creative caters to Monday Night RAW more than most “special events” and that is not going to sell subscribers.
Battleground was a below average show. Without a full re-write, nothing was changing that final grade in my opinion. However, would it have hurt to have Brock Lesnar come out at the end, hit the F5 and stand tall w/ the titles as the show goes off the air? Then, for the exclusive Battleground post show for subscribers only, have Heyman lead Lesnar through the Authority's door only to disappear with the imagination that they are demanding a title shot at Summerslam? I’m not a booker. That’s not gold, but it’s something relevant.
Don't worry, friends, I'm aware that Brock has a certain amount of dates in his contract, but this is about creative priorities. This is about giving those paid customers something exciting to think about before going to sleep. Instead, everyone w/ basic cable gets to see the official challenge and/or confrontation at no extra cost. And, I'm not picking on this event alone. This is something I have seen the WWE do for years. I went ahead and compiled a list of similar situations. This is list is just from 2014:
#1: Batista returns on RAW after his hiatus, just a few days before he will return to the ring at the Royal Rumble
#2: Hulk Hogan returns to RAW to announce he is the host of Wrestlemania 30. The RAW following Elimination Chamber.
#3: Seth Rollins turns on the Shield and aligns w/ The Authority on the RAW after Payback.
#4: Chris Jericho returns to RAW after HHH provides a sneak tweet on Twitter and is attacked by the Wyatt family on the episode following Money in the Bank.
#5: Paige turns on AJ on the RAW following Battleground.
#6: As mentioned above, Brock Lesnar returns since beating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXX and is announced as the #1 contender to John Cena’s championship at Summerslam.
Those are just some examples from 2014. Some of those creative decisions could have been made for the “special events” to lure in those fair-weather fans into thinking they are missing “must see TV”. I'm not implying that every return, debut, twist, and turn needs to happen during the “special events”, but the WWE needs to find a better balance. Give those folks who are the fence a motive to subscribe to the network. If not, what's the point to purchase the network for the special events? There is nothing too special about them. Anything can happen in the WWE, huh? Just not on the WWE Network.
Anthony Folden is a teacher, a friend, and a wrestling fan extreme. Shoot him a message at his email firstname.lastname@example.org