If you’ve been a wrestling fan for a while on the internet, you will come across these phrases from time to time:
What is WWE doing? This won’t help the ratings!
What is WWE doing? This won’t help sell PPVs!
What is WWE doing? This won’t build new stars!
What is WWE doing? They’re burying all the best guys!
I would like to see these things stop.
Not because WWE ever does things that might make you not want to buy a show. Sure, of course they do. Not because WWE ever does things that might make you watch it less. Naturally. Not because they sometimes fail to correctly market new wrestlers, or because they might not treat their top talent with the best deal. They do this more than anyone could really imagine.
I want it to stop because we don’t know the facts, and we likely never will. We honestly don’t know what sells WWE PPVs. We honestly don’t know what makes ratings go up and down. We don’t know how to make a wrestler into a superstar, and we don’t know how to treat veteran, quality wrestlers with the proper spot 100% of the time. We don’t know this partially because these are terrible units of measurement, but mostly it’s because we don’t run wrestling companies. If we did, well, maybe we could have this conversation. But we don’t.
By all means, bitch. It’s what the internet was made for. But bitching in the vein of knowing better is dubious and a waste of time. We actually have three guys who blog on a regular basis who have been in the position of running a wrestling company: Jim Cornette, Paul Heyman, and Eric Bischoff. They have every right to bitch about the product in terms of buyrates, pushes, etc., because they’ve actually done it. Consider this, though: they did it and failed, so the quality of their opinions may not even be solid. What makes you think you know better?
Wrestling is a difficult, almost impenetrable art form that 99% of people completely misunderstand. Almost every opinion about it is untested, barely-educated guesswork. What worked once may never work again. What never worked might work tomorrow. There is no time-tested formula, there is no generally successful script, and there’s no guaranteed way to blow the roof off the joint. To suggest otherwise is to suggest you know a business better than guys who have lived it their whole lives.
I do want to reiterate: bitch if you want to bitch. Be as negative as you want. But be negative about aspects of the show you comprehend. Do you hate that they put the belt on Miz? Fine. Say so. Speak your mind, give your argument. But it had better not include things like ratings, buy rates, and the like, because you have no idea what you’re talking about, and we all know it. If the ratings are low for the Miz, there may be forty reasons why, and none of them might have anything to do with him. If the buyrate for a PPV is low, it might have absolutely zero to do with the wrestlers, the card, the location, or even the timing.
Turns out, business is complicated. Performances are complicated. Showbiz is really, really complicated. Be a fan. Be a critic. Be a critical fan. Be a fanatical critic. Whatever. But unless you were in the office where the decisions were made (this week), shut your mouth about the business.