Yes, this is the triumphant return of The House of M! My sometimes controversial but always must-read Op-Ed I made famous (or infamous depending on who you talk to) during my tenure at the once-great institution called Wrestling News World. It has taken me a long time and a fair bit of effort to bring this segment to Wrestle Royalty so I hope you won’t be disappointed. Just like my Houses former address, I must put the disclaimer that the views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect the feelings of Wrestle Royalty LLC, it’s owner Kendra Bunyon or other staff members here. Okay, let’s get started!
I know I have a bit of a reputation and I know some of you may roll your eyes when you first read the title of this piece. Before you cause me of being an Indy/Japan Mark who thinks WWE is always wrong and other promotions are perfect, let me list the things about WWE I absolutely adore!
I love watching Miz come out every week and spit fire on the microphone. I love seeing guys like Seth Rollins tearing it up in the ring every week. I love watching the theatrics WWE brings to the business with guys like Finn Balor and his “Demon King” persona or Naomi with her “Glow” entrance. I love the Women’s Revolution. I loved this year’s WrestleMania. Above everything else…I LOVE NXT!!!
The problem is, though, all this only counts for around 20% of WWE’s total programming! The other 80% honestly does my head in. From Jinder Mahal’s tokenistic main event push to draw fans in India (which didn’t work for the obvious reason that he’s a terrible performer), to WWE taking 20 Million dollars from the Saudi Government to run a show there that became a propaganda event for the country, to WWE’s illogical and frustrating booking decisions made solely to maintain a certain image for both the company and individuals the companies higher-ups believe are the top draws (e.g., Brock Lesnar, Charlotte and Roman Reigns)
I have to say that I do understand why WWE’s higher-ups make these kinds of decisions. After all, WWE is no longer a Pro Wrestling promotion or an Entertainment Company; they are now at their core a Marketing company selling their product to TV networks, advertisers, toy manufacturers and corporate sponsors and shareholders. Their top priority is making sure all those entities are happy. As a publicly-traded company, they should absolutely keep all these things in mind. It’s not like we haven’t been told for years that this is the case with WWE constantly branding themselves “Sports Entertainment” and doing everything in their power to garner any sort of mainstream attention. Hell, they’ve even let their own employees tell us themselves in promos where they got to vent the very same frustrations I am now:
However in the end, after all these years of successful marketing, they are still marketing the same product…an art form called Pro Wrestling that is designed to entertain an audience. After an absolutely awful PPV/WWE Network Special in Backlash and a Raw and Smackdown that were subpar at best, I think it’s fairly obvious they don’t care about how they present their product anywhere near as much as they care about marketing it!
And you know what, from their perspective, I can see why they wouldn’t care. They have successfully marketed themselves as not just the biggest but the ONLY game in town for so long that people will always pay to watch their product either at home or in person. The problem is they are no longer the only game in town and people are slowly starting to not watch their product either at home or in person.
I mean, outside of major events like WrestleMania and SummerSlam, WWE’s ticket sales are moving at a snail’s pace these days! We all remember seeing photos of half empty arenas floating online every week for the second half of 2017. While TV ratings always fluctuate and there are still plenty of weeks where Raw and Smackdown are the top shows on Pay TV on Monday’s and Tuesdays in the U.S., ratings have been on a notable slide every year for the last five years or so. To put it mildly, the idea that WWE is the ONLY game in town is a complete work at this point!
There are well-known promotions outside of the WWE bubble that continue to attract a larger audience week after week. Yes, WWE is still by far the biggest and most well-known product 100 times over, but three “Indy Performers” (one a former WWE employee who could have been a HUGE star for them if he would have been given the opportunity) just sold over 10,000 tickets for an independently-produced show that there are financing all by themselves in less than half an hour! As of press time, WWE’s next PPV/Network Special Money in the Bank (which is being held in the same Metropolitan area) is still not sold out despite tickets being on sale for a few weeks now. So when I say I don’t enjoy the majority of WWE product anymore, you simply can’t say I’m alone and that few people feel the way I do!
At the same time, I realize that there are A LOT of people who do love the majority of WWE’s product and don’t feel the same way I do and are tired of “Dirt Sheet” writers like myself saying negative things about it. There are also a lot of people within the industry (some of whom don’t work for WWE) who believe fans and writers alike should stop analyzing everything and just try to be fans again and in doing so, we would enjoy not just WWE’s product, but all products better:
I liked it when people were fans. When nobody knew who the booker was. Or cared. Nobody asked “who wrote this segment?” Who was on the creative team was not even remotely a thought. Yes, everything evolves, which is positive. Along the way however, we’ve forgotten to just be fans
— Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) May 8, 2018
So after copping a little flack from many people (even my fellow writers here at Wrestle Royalty) I made the decision to try and turn my brain off and just try to enjoy WWE’s product again as a fan. This lasted the minute Seth Rollins vs. The Miz ended and the remainder of Backlash played out like a Vince Russo era WCW Nitro as far as show quality was concerned! After this, I faced a dilemma! Because even though there are aspects of WWE’s product I do enjoy, I no longer have the patience to sit through the majority of it anymore. Quite frankly, given the fact that people started to walk out of Backlash before the show ended and TV ratings for the following Raw and Smackdown were abysmal, a lot of fans were in the same boat. So, how am I supposed to become “just a fan” again when I simply don’t enjoy watching most of WWE’s product anymore? Simple…I’m going to stop watching it for a little while and just watch other promotions who’s products I do enjoy the majority of the time.
For the first time in over 20 years, I am not going to watch any form of WWE’s product. I have canceled my WWE subscription and I will not be involved in any Dignified Discussions for ANY WWE show starting from Monday the 14th of May and ending on Monday June 11th. I am going to only watch products I do enjoy for the most part like New Japan Pro Wrestling and write results for their shows on the site without a shred of opinion added to them. And most importantly I’m going to try to just be a Pro Wrestling fan.
If I’m being honest, I wish I could give up watching WWE forever…but I can’t, not because I couldn’t do it as many of you I’m sure are saying to yourselves right now. Even though there are things I will miss about WWE, I will enjoy not having to try to suspend my disbelief when Roman Reigns is presented as a Championship challenger screwed over by management when its obvious to even young fans who don’t fully understand that the business is a work that he’s really the guy management wants to be the next top star. But, as my career as a writer is kind of dependent on watching WWE I can only stop watching it for a short period like a month.
I really do envy fans who don’t have the same obligations as I do, because I’m sure that unless WWE changes the way the book their current product…fans who feel the same way I do would probably decide to stop watching it for good!