Monday, July 21, 2014

Road To Summerslam Is All About The WWE Network's Future

WWE enters perhaps one of the more critical times in their recent history. To say that "Battleground" inspired confidence that they are ready for this challenge would be a lie. Battleground two years running has been a solid candidate for worst WWE Show of the year in terms of PPVs/Special Events. I along with Steve broke down the show in audio form for Between the Ropes. While today I wrote my review in written form which was no more glowing.

Reports are already out that Brock Lesnar will be in the building and expected not to be in that same building is John Cena who for some reason someone is being stupid enough to have in another movie. Least he plays a “Bad Guy” in the movie after this decade as good guy John Cena a major stretch for him.

Why this time is so critical is the WWE soon will have to produce numbers for shareholders on how the WWE Network is doing in terms of subscribers which doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out isn’t all that good. Add into the fact Battleground seems to be the first PPV that people seem to have had a lot of issues with the network stream in great numbers. Not the stuff you want to hear right now if you’re WWE. Who is not only trying to grow their network in new subscribers but soon faces  the end of the 6 month window in which current subscribers were forced to commit too when the network launched in late February.

Brock Lesnar and John Cena need to pull off a heck of a build to Summerslam that the company is really banking on delivering. This 4 week build to Summerslam might be the most important build for the company since perhaps the original Wrestlemania when you consider all that is on the line. This makes the decision to basically screw fans out of a Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins match all the more puzzling. This is a time more than ever that the WWE needs to create good will with its fans. They need fans to buy into this network sooner rather than later or the consequences could be pretty damaging at least in the short term.

We have already seen more people fired in WWE than at any point I can recall in recent memory. Expect the cost cutting to continue should the network not deliver a favourable number at the end of the month.

How ironic that the future is based on one guy that is corporate face of the company and another that basically is just here for all the zeroes on his pay check. Not that Cena isn’t but Brock is more like a mercenary bounty hunter that he is anything else. Most expect him to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and after that some expect him to hold it all the way to Wrestlemania 31. If this is true that will be a major change in wrestling physiology for modern fans that have been use to seeing the Champion on T.V every week. This generation has grown us with “The Champ Is Here” even if Cena was not that guy. Back is the 1980’s Hogan was rarely seen on T.V as you had to go out to house shows to see him or wait for major events. Not sure fans will be use to this and some might not see it as total hypocrisy based on the stripping of an injured Bryan of the title and the explanation given.

The road not just to Summerslam starts tonight but the road to a very uncertain and rocky future for the WWE potentially. It is not going to be easy if they can’t fix this network in some form or fashion in a relatively short amount of time. Even when they get to their international launch scheduled for late 2014 or early 2015 that may not help. Most people here in Canada and other foreign lands have taken steps to beat the system and get the network now. Bad news when the WWE launches internationally to know that most of their hardcore fans may already be part of their domestic number.

It is a long and tough road ahead for the company. Break glass for Brock will be launched or plan C. It is clear the WWE has had more than 3 plans for their network and the more plans they have the more misses they seem to have than hits. It isn’t going according to plan at all.

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