A New Golden Era For WWE?
We've been through a lot of pain over the past few years, when CM Punk left and Daniel Bryan was forced to retire, the two hottest upcoming stars were instantly snuffed within the WWE Universe. This left us with guys who weren't ready for that level of spotlight, like Roman Reigns, being given pushes that the fans did not want simply to fill a void. I'll admit, as well as I would hope everyone can admit at this point, that Roman has had some excellent matches during his time at the top of the card but it's so weird to look at a guy in that kind of position while feeling his future potential is already dead.
This was a necessary sacrifice however as, with all eyes being locked onto Roman, others have been able to come up more organically and benefit from the longterm "top guy" status Roman had gained. With smart signings like AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, WWE also grabbed a few sure fire winners without needing to risk another Roman situation. While the past was difficult to get through, it did help to set-up a proper hierarchy of talent where top guys really do feel like top guys again and there is always somebody ready to step up when the time is right.
Hell, they even took a random jobber like Jinder Mahal and have used Smackdown as a vessel for making him the champion of India while using the huge boom on Raw to distract from what could otherwise be a complete disaster. The way the WWE is using the strengths of one show to help distract from the weaknesses of the other is masterful and shows that the WWE (even if by complete accident) has found a way to make the two brands work in their favor.
The list of legit top stars from throughout the world and from WWE's own Universe is beginning to rival any roster from the past. They unquestionably have one of, if not the, strongest women's divisions in history and that alone is strengthening the overall product. When Asuka steps up then it may be impossible to argue any other time period as having more credible stars.
While there are still imperfections, and three hours of Raw is still way, WAY too much, there are finally some major players worth clamoring to see and we're finally getting the payoff for hanging in there that seemed like it may never come.
Unless ratings significantly rises again and the WWE becomes accepted in the mainstream again I don't think a golden era is happening anytime soon.
WWE can have all the talent in the world but when one of the World Champion is Jinder, it shows how there are gaps in how they utilize their talent. But I guess this is what happens when there is no competition. If this was 1996 or there was a wrestling promotion equivalent to the threat WCW Nitro was you can be sure Jinder wouldn't be Champion, Roman Reigns would either have turned heel or been taken out of the #1 Spot, and talents would have been utilized better.
I don't think we can have a new golden era for WWE anytime soon because they are serving too many different group of fans now.
When you look at both golden era of WWE, the first one in the late 80's. It was all about the characters andthe over the top nature of the show. While you had a vocal minority that still wasn't going with what they we're giving them, for the most part. Fans we're cheering the babyfaces and booing the heel. This was the mentality at the time and you had somebody like Hulk hogan that could serve as the ultimate Babyface and beat the gang of bad guys like andre, dibiase and perfect. Also it was more of a house show business during the first golden age of WWE/F.
Then during the attitude era or the second golden age, it was all about trying to get the more adult fans to watch the program and it was more of a tv product. Back then it wasn't about good guys and bad guys but it was more about the grey area and the fans followed that.
Now, it's more about the money. Daniel Bryan, while he was super over with the crowd during the later part of his career until he was forced to retire due to injury. The guy wasn't translating making them money. The ratings we're down during his run on top. His merchandise wasn't selling. If you don't believe me, just read bryan's book, it's all in it. So, it didn't matter if he was super over with fans it didn't change anything. Punk left because he was a hot head and saw he wouldn't be getting what he wanting.
I think the biggest obstacle for WWE to get another golden era is that The male fans don't like the guys that WWE are pushing because they are not pushing the guy they like but the other demographic they are serving which is kids do love the guys that are pushing. So while a group don'T want to have somebody like Reigns get a main event push, the other group love seeing reigns on top. So you're damn if you do, damn if you don't. Their too many different group of fans that they have to please to fully creat a new golden age at this point.
Maybe later on, when they can find somebody that everybody can agree on that they like and the ratings goes up merch sales goes up and network subscription as well, then you might have another golden age but until then, i don't see this happening.
Plus, kids and adults loved Bryan. Kids and adults loved Punk. Where are they now? And I don't get it. They literally wanted to flush money down the toilet with Bryan. Fans wanted to see Bryan and if fans want something they'll pay to see it. So, where was the problem? I don't get it.
I don't talk with casual fans, but they must have liked Bryan and Punk too! It's not like a John Cena situation anymore. WWE has two demographics, which are Hardcore fans and Casual fans. With Cena everything was 50-50 because casuals loved him and hardcores hated him. With Roman it's different. Everybody except women and children hate him. It's more like male vs female/children not casuals vs hardcore anymore. With Cena, it's fun and games. With Roman, it's hate. 100,000 people booed him at WM 32 and 80,000 were meh at WM 33.
So I'm expected to believe that Bryan who was super over and loved, didn't sell merch, but Roman, who is universally hated, sells?
As for Roman, i think it's more hardcore vs casual then male vs female/children. If you go to a live event which his mostly comprise of casual fans. Roman is super over as a babyface in this environment. I saw a lot of adult both male and female with roman reigns t-shirt. Eck, i see adult guys with roman reigns t-shirt in the crowd on Raw every week so i don't think that it's genre thing, it's more of IWC vs casual fans thing as far as roman reigns is concern.
A new Golden Era for WWE? Depends on what you mean by that.
Maybe for fans who have on-and-off been following WWE for years it might seem like a Golden Era right now for a bunch of reasons:
- Incredible athletic talent up and down the roster including names people didn't think would even be in WWE: AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Kevin Owens, etc.
- A strong developmental model including how NXT works to develop talent and RE-INTRODUCE talent that previously didn't quite work (ex. Drew McIntyre)
- WWE having their own Network online with exclusive PPVs and special events/tournaments like Mae Young and CW Classic
- Brand Split that allows opportunity for large talent roster to get a fair shake at exposure without being over exposed or wasted
Those are just some of the reasons anyone who sort of/kind of/does watch WWE could think it's in a Golden Era.
Now, I still notice a lack of Creative commitment to really compelling and consistently intense storylines on the TV shows leading to big PPVs. I see a lack of willingness to create must-see TV. Not just something that people could watch on YouTube later and hardly ever think they should have seen this Live. A lack of willingness to create very strong factions or even average-strong teams to give opportunities for underused talent to get at least some more exposure without so much individual runs that can be very boring and turn people off.
My guess would be that currently, if we could find out the ages of the people who watch WWE regularly, follow the programming (even if it is on YouTube later) but people who generally know the characters and at least some of the storylines that the majority would be kids to about age 13. Then the next group would be hardcore hang-ons about the ages of 26-36 who grew up really getting into WWE in the Attitude Era and maybe don't super like what WWE is today but still keep an eye on it.
So the kid market is still huge for WWE and the PG rating does kind of make it impossible to go back to Attitude Era style programming.
And this is anecdotal, but the Golden Era of WWE in the AE had fans galore and MAINSTREAM popularity but a big reason for that was the clear edginess of the product. The intensity, hardcore weapons, sexuality and crude promos. People who no longer enjoy or watch WWE are ones who really liked WWE because of those AE qualities we are not getting back.
This is why I don't know that WWE will ever get to a Golden Era again if Golden Era means very strong TV viewership and clear mainstream public awareness and attention and appreciation.
I'd like to hear how anyone thinks it could happen, I really would. I just don't quite see it.
A 'Golden Era' isn't going to happen anytime soon, we'll probably never see Wrestling hit the ratings is was doing during 'The Monday Night Wars' but WWE has shown it's still relying on veteran/part-time guys, Brock Lesnar is The Universal Champion & the had to move John Cena over to RAW because they were obviously worried about ratings.
Looking at the roster you've Brock Lesnar, John Cena & Chris Jericho who could all be considered part-time guys, then you've got AJ Styles who is 40 and a host of guys that are all in their late 30's.
If they signed some of these guys 5 years ago then I suppose you could say that Wrestling would be 'turning the corner' but WWE needs to be careful that they don't end up in the situation again where they lose a lot of main-event guys over a 12-24 month spell.
I wouldn't say that we have reached another Golden Era for the WWE yet. The thing with other major times like in the Hogan era or the Attitude Era that sets those times apart from today is that you had significant popularity where people who weren't even fans knew about the product. In the original Golden Era people knew who Hogan and Andre were without being fans of the product. In the Attitude Era everyone knew who Stone Cold, The Rock, and the nWo were. Raw and Nitro were both extremely popular. Nowadays yes people may know about Raw or Smackdown, but despite the high quality of content they likely won't know what NXT is or what the names are of the top stars of the main roster for instance. They may know who John Cena is and Wrestlemania, but other than the WWE brand as a whole there is not much that people outside the true fans know about. What's missing that separates the current era from the Hogan Era and the Attitude Era is that spike in popularity amongst everyone as opposed to just the hardcore fans and casuals. If we get to a point where say, everyone knew who Seth Rollins or other top guys are when these people don't even watch the product, then we've hit a new Golden Era. Don't get me wrong, the WWE is on the right path. Creating the Network was a brilliant move. Now we just need that new tier of popular top guys. If they pick 2 or 3 guys not named Roman Reigns and don't force the push, we'll get there.
Also I forgot to add.
I think the reason why WWE will never have a boom is the company is a publicly traded one.
Currently WWE's revenue streams are coming from their TV rights, the Network, Merchandising, Total Divas/Bellas etc. As long as those increase slowly but steadily there is no real pressure to have another Golden Era or boom.
I think by now the WWE knows that any kind of boom is unsustainable. Just like when Nintendo's stock rose through the roofs after they released the Wii and took a sharp fall 2 or 3 years later. And we know Wrestling, when it hits mainstream, just ends up becoming a fad when it's all said and done.
My guess is that investors would rather prefer the steady and slow increase then spike up only to drop off a couple of years later.
Roman Reigns isn't the guy to usher in a new era of Wrestling but I am sure WWE knows this as they did with Cena. What he does for the company, though, is that he represents the company's status quo that fits with their corporate branding. I mean with they way WWE is structured now corporate wise you probably will never get someone like Steve Austin (beer drinking, foul mouthed, wreckless, and unpredictable) being the face of the company.
I would also add that I don't think WWE will ever have a boom period again in part because they are publically traded (not the case in the Attitude Era) and also because there is just so much media content for people to watch these days. Wrestling is just another subculture and niche interest.
Some people love zombie-based shows and TV like Walking Dead and some people just couldn't care less about it. Yet, zombie-based shows and TV have been highly successful. This is the landscape WWE is in right now, too.
The way WWE is basically hindered in what they can show means they can't get an audience that appreciates more graphic violence and crude attitudes and behavior. Imagine if Game of Thrones was on basic cable and not HBO where they can have more graphic violence, nudity and foul language? Game of Thrones would not NEARLY be as popular anymore.
So WWE has put themselves in a corner. That doesn't mean it is necessarily bad. They still have a strong market but it DOES have a cap of how big it can get because of their limitations.
This does not mean, however, that WWE couldn't do a lot better to keep more casuals drawn in to not just casuals but maybe more hardcore fans and maybe then get their friends to watch and get more viewers that way.
I feel like the way WWE is kind of sloppy in terms of interesting and intensity of storytelling and character development makes it hard for casuals to recommend the show to friends. Whereas, if WWE used the means they have even within a PG format, and had more interest conflicts and twists and turns and strong (but free to express) mic work from the characters then casual fans would be more likely to say to their friend "Hey man, you should check out this WWE, it's actually pretty interesting to watch and it's pretty intense and good action regularly, hardly any dull spots and great dialogue between charismatic characters!"
The end result is I think WWE could go from say 2 - 3 million viewers weekly on Raw or SmackDown to 3-4 million viewers and Network subscriptions could keep rising above 2 million instead of plateauing.
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