We often hear fans complain about the WWE insulting their intelligence. Others complain that they can’t relate to the product anymore because of who it’s marketed to. Either way, there is a public consensus around the WWE that the kayfabe element of wrestling is more important than the athletic aspect of it.
People always seem to focus on the ‘fake’ elements of wrestling rather than the sporting excellence it possesses. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty tired of hearing people who don’t watch the WWE say they don’t watch because it’s not ‘real’ enough.
Here are 5 innovative ways the WWE could become more realistic to the casual viewer.
#5 Incorporate real life trends
The product needs to incorporate real life global trends more into their storylines & programming. We don’t just want casual references to the real world, we want whole storylines based on them. Bring in real life issues such as; climate change, racial tensions, political reform and globalisation.
Give people from all walks of life a reason to tune in. What’s the realist thing to happen in the past decade? Yes, the CM Punk pipebomb.
The moment was special because he brought up real life issues that the fans were thinking about. It was a moment so shocking that it created a star and millions of dollars with it. The WWE today needs more shock value like this, fans need jaw-dropping moments on a more consistent basis that relate to them in the real world.
#4 Feed stories to the press
We live in a world where fans demand 100% access to their celebrities, they want to know every juicy detail and piece of gossip available. The consumer culture of the present world makes people want to buy into every aspect of people’s lives. I think the WWE should use this to its advantage and use the PR team to manipulate the media circuit.
The PR team should feed disparaging stories about heel performers to the media, thus creating a more dislikeable aura about them to the WWE Universe. And when it comes to the babyfaces, more access to their charity appearances could be provided. We don’t just want online photo galleries of appearances, we need more live streaming access to these acts of kindness.
#3 Break the 4th wall more often
Vince McMahon famously once tweeted “The first law of communication is to know your audience and speak their language.” To connect with an audience you must first understand and then interact with them. From the beginning of time, actors have always been discouraged to break the illustrious fourth wall.
The fourth wall is the imaginary barrier that stands between the actors and the audience. In the WWE’s case, this pertains to the wrestlers and millions watching at home.
We all know John Cena regularly breaks kayfabe and addresses the cameraman every time he steps out into an arena. Many slate him for this, but I feel it’s one of the main reasons he’s the biggest star in the company today.
When you make the watching audience at home feel like they’re part of a show taking place thousands of miles away, it gives them a sense of involvement and importance. Wrestlers have to break this 4th wall more often, heels need to address the audience at home directly, perhaps even threatening them thus creating uncomfortable viewing.
Give the people at home a reason to ALWAYS watch live.
#2 Unscripted promos
To be truly hated, Superstars need to be able to draw legit heat in every town they visit. Fans need to actually hate a heel enough to pay to see them get beaten up. If you’re a top heel in the company you must be dislikeable on all platforms, that includes social media and interviews.
Let’s be honest, some WWE Superstars are naturally dislikeable, just let them be their selves and they will draw legit heat.
We need to take away the restrictive creative controls and let performers go out to the ring with unscripted promos. Stop trying to mould & package these wrestlers into chiselled TV characters and just let them be original and unique in only ways they can.
Some of these wrestlers weren’t made to be actors, they want to wrestle not perform at the theatre. Play to their strengths in the ring and their uniqueness on the mic. Don’t let the predictability of promos ruin the authenticity of the overall product.
#1 Split the company into sports and entertainment
Perhaps it’s time to give in to the needs of some of the fan base. Some are tired of watching PG-friendly matches, they want blood, they want physicality, they want pain. I suggest it’s time to split the company into two halves. Separate the sports entertainers from the fighters, and let the audience choose who they want to watch.
Create a division exclusively for mixed martial artists, grapple wrestlers and kickboxers. All wrestlers in the company with these backgrounds can join the division and the WWE could continue to recruit professional fighters from across the World.
Let them have actual contests like the UFC, let them have their own PPVs and televised broadcasts. Give the audience that wants real life contests they want, without completely compromising the fans that enjoy the kayfabe bouts.