WWE programming has been struggling in recent years to maintain an audience. Every year, viewership continues to dwindle and the company forces what it wants to see down the viewers throats.
It claims to listen to its fans, but proceeds to do the exact opposite of what the majority want to see. If you don’t believe me, just go back and rewatch Daniel Bryan’s run from 2013-2014. It was quite obvious WWE did not want to push Bryan as a star and believed in its own created star, Batista.
There is one major thing that is hurting the WWE. It’s the WWE Draft. The draft started back in April 2002. WWE’s roster was enormous having just bought out WCW previous year. ECW had also gone out of business, allowing WWE to purchase it as well. There was zero competition.
A lot of people enjoy competition, whether it be at work or recreational sports. People enjoy a challenge.
Well when the WWE bought its competition, programming became stale and became stale rather quickly. Vince McMahon realized that his company needed competition and what better way to create that competition than have a competition within his own company?
In theory, it makes complete sense. By 2002, the WWE was struggling to create stars. But with the WWE Draft, they were able to establish guys like Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista and John Cena. It absolutely worked. However, it doesn’t work anymore.
I used to be an avid viewer of WWE programming, but in recent years I’ve tuned out. I know exactly why I ended up bailing on WWE. If you’ve watched an episode of RAW or Smackdown, you’ve seen them all.
That may sound confusing. WWE’s roster is still enormous with NXT, RAW and Smackdown. I’m not even counting WWE UK. It’s the largest it’s ever been. The talent that the company has is quite possibly the best it’s ever been.
So, why do I continue to see the same matches over and over? There was a stretch of time where for nine straight weeks Dolph Ziggler wrestled Kofi Kingston. Nine times.
How many times has Kevin Owens wrestled Sami Zayn in WWE? Way too many times. That dates back to their matches in Ring of Honor, too.
So, why would anyone tune into a show just to watch the same episode the previous week? Would you tune into “Walking Dead” every week if it was essentially the same episode for months at a time?
The whole reason for the concept was to allow guys that wouldn’t normally be on TV to get exposure and to get over with the crowd. It’s just laziness on the creative writers’ part. Wrestlers do not need to be on every program. So, why can’t Roman Reigns appear on RAW and skip Smackdown without having a split roster? Likely because that would require planning ahead of time and that doesn’t exist in the WWE.
I’m hopeful with the rise of All Elite Wrestling, the WWE will eventually switch back to having everyone appear on their programming. It adds a level of spontaneity and interest that doesn’t exist now.
If the split were to end tomorrow, creativity would thrive and viewership would improve. I know I’d be more inclined to tune in.