What a phrase. To me, all sports are entertaining. Some appeal to you more than others but I can fully appreciate that all sports are entertaining – otherwise they simply wouldn’t survive.
Let me break it down a bit more…
Entertainment: It’s a subjective viewpoint that we can all agree or disagree on. However it is the heart of what WWE does. It’s in the company name; it’s all about entertainment. To keep their viewing figures they are solely focused on entertaining us. Their output is entirely to take us away from reality. Aside from their wrestling shows, they have shows like Swerved, Total Divas, Tough Enough and WWE Unfiltered with Renee Young. They have storyline creators and script writers – which is probably a room of 12 people sculpting the next 6 months of Wrestling Entertainment – this is how the Main Roster works, this is how they create their work.
Sports: When you look at the sports side of the business it feels like it is a constant afterthought. They have championships – but no definitive method or reasoning behind why one superstar gets to fight for a Championship above another. They have no League Tables or Knockout Competitions, they very rarely actually put a decent case forward as to why someone should be granted a championship spot. The most regular thing they do relating to the sports side of the business is the ‘Re-Match’ clause.
As with everything WWE based at the moment the comparisons between the main roster and the NXT work is always plain to see…and we can see the success that NXT are having with sports like influences dominating the show. They have championships that are fought for on merit – which gives theirsuperstars fantastic through lines of character and a drive and purpose to do well. The superstars know that on that roster if they wrestle well – like the athletes they are – they get their pay offs. They work hard. They win more. It has nothing to do with who is more popular, who can sell a better storyline. It has everything to do with who can sell a punch and who can wrestle to the best of their ability…then the entertainment follows.
The audience will be entertained if they see the sport side of wrestling. They will not be entertained if they have to watch drab storylines take place between who Lana wants to kiss more whilst she is off filming, or why Bray Wyatt is terrorising Roman Reign’s daughter, or the worst one of all; Why does there have to be a cat fight over who started the Divas Revolution?
The ‘Hashtag Divas Revolution’ – to give it its full title – was great for about a month. We saw Charlotte (an NXT upstart) tear the house down with other Divas like Nikki Bella and Brie – they were starting to Wrestle, and we were starting to be entertained by it. But when they turn the whole storyline into who is responsible for it, and why someone should or shouldn’t be on the main roster, the majority of the audience switch off.
So WWE please read this and think more about letting your Superstars do more of what they are trained to do. It is in the title of the business you own – Sports Entertainment – not Entertaining Sports – There is a place for entertainment, but it comes as a natural by product of sports – and the sooner you re-address the balance, the better for everyone. Otherwise more and more of your audience will shift off TV and onto your baby brother: NXT.