Wrestling: A Look Ahead At 2009 - Video Blogs, WWE & more
Tuesday, January 13th, 2009
Happy New Year. . . . time to get this web-site rocking again in 2009. We're tinkering with the idea of video blogs to go on-line on top of written columns. The feedback I get from these columns, whether good or bad, is always interesting. Might be something we try shortly. . .
It's hard to believe 2008 is already over. Short of WWE 24/7 (the best value for your wrestling dollar, bar none), I can't remember a year where I watched less of the current product. I never thought the day would come when I watch next to no wrestling each week as much as I like to stay current with what's going on each week on the TV's.
It looks like WWE has finally come to grips with the fact that my age demographic (18-34) has moved on to UFC by the millions. The new direction is aimed towards kids, ala the early 1990's. Not a bad idea, by any stretch of the imagination considering kid are the ones flocking to live events and buy merchandise right now. Where WWE has the Raw, Smackdown and ECW brands, I continue to believe taking one in a different direction would appeal to wider fan base. Raw is a Monday night institution, that should continue to have that little extra buzz you get from a live event and have something for everyone. Smackdown is on Friday night at 8PM. Once you reach high school, your social life is Friday nights and Saturday. So, the perfect program to build around a younger audience. ECW was on at 10PM on Tuesday nights, which was a chance for WWE to get a little extreme and over the top on Sci-Fi. The recent move to 9PM so younger fans can see Matt Hardy and Hornswoggle makes that a little more difficult. I like the focus of what I've seen and read about in the main angles and programs. Long, built up angles with characters fans are intrigued by is what sells tickets and PPV's. If this pattern continues, hopefully fans that gave up on the intelligence insulting, comedy "sports entertainment" shows over the past few years will come back. I continue to believe that there are more wrestling fans out there not watching wrestling present day than there are tuning in each week. The numbers speak for themselves. WWE's domestic PPV numbers are hurting, bad. Luckily the international explosion has continued to keep the company very profitable. Serious characters with depth and long term storylines and angles is what WWE needs more of to get things back to where they were in the late 90's, in my opinion. Look at the tremendous job they've done in getting Jeff Hardy and Chris Jericho over this year with a tweak (not character overhaul). I would focus on establishing one talent each year on each brand as a new main event player. Staleness is also there with such limited rosters, which makes the releases questionable to me no matter what the bottom line is. . .
Over on TNA, I haven't seen it in months and if I popped it on Thursday I imagine it would be the exact same program I saw in the fall. The Main Event Mafia vs whatever the babyface crew is called is at least a step in the right direction in a simple storyline formula to follow. Killing off the X-Division and going from what were must-see monthly PPV's to something no different than what you can see Thursday nights made me lose interest as much as I enjoy many of the athletes, I feel like I see the same thing over and over again. There are too many women on a roster that small, too many gimmick matches, etc. I can only hope the company continues to grow, comes up with a solid direction that will capture fans interest as well as get them to purchase PPV's. There's too much talent in that company for it to be stuck in status quo year after year. . .
As far as the independent scene goes, continuing to go about promoting live events with a "business as usual" approach isn't going to get the job done. We've spent a great deal of time since SOUL SURVIVOR V not trying to re-create the wheel, but get it to spin in a more effective manner in a way it was successful up until the late 90's. A never ending challenge to entertain our fans, give them an interactive experience, give our athletes opportunity and cover the bottom line at the same time. With our dedicated team, I think we can get the job done no matter what the landscape of the indy's are in New England is. . .the fight continues. . .