In a time where TV ratings for RAW and SmackDownLive are at an all-time low, the star power of the current product has come under increased scrutiny and rightly so. Every promotion is built around star attractions, if you have a limited number of stars, the promotion subsequently suffers.
If we’re discounting the Undertaker, the WWE only has two bonafide main event attractions.
In a new era, funnily enough, it’s two athletes left from the OVW era that run the show, John Cena and Brock Lesnar. The WWE are struggling, they're struggling to draw in new fans, and they're struggling to build new crossover stars.
When we talk about stars, I don't mean someone who's over with a WWE crowd, I mean someone who has crossover appeal that draws new people to the product. For example, The Rock is a star; CM Punk isn't. Maybe I'm not explaining myself well enough, let’s break it down.
Let's define a box office attraction, a box office attraction is:
- Someone who consistently delivers big PPV numbers.
- Someone who sells out arenas across the World.
- Someone who shifts large quantities of merchandise.
- Gives the product mainstream coverage through outside endeavours.
We’re not talking about the potential to deliver, we’re talking about who’s done it and is doing it right now. Sound like anyone on the roster besides Cena or Lesnar? No, I didn't think so.
The importance of Part-timers:
Part-timers are vital to the long-term success of WWE. People complain when the WWE brings back part-timers and 'old guys' but you can't blame them. When the new guys aren't drawing, the company must look elsewhere.
Goldberg's return was a necessity, 'why' I hear you ask. It's because the WWE needs some actual main event talent on the roster at the moment. Yes, short term fixes are not sustainable, their long-term implications can be magical. The main event is often too much too soon for a lot of the current roster.
Wrestlemania after Wrestlemania, the part-timers headline the showbiz extravaganza, because they are proven draws. Look at the past five Wrestlemanias, they've had a part-timer in the main event each time because the current roster doesn't have sufficient star power to sell out 70,000 strong crowds.
Part-timers can provide a standard of excellence/ the benchmark for full-time talent to learn from and aspire to be. Guess what the most bought PPV of all time is? Wrestlemania 28, and a part-timer was in each of the three main events, it's no coincidence.
Part-timers engage casual viewers, they create the buzz around a PPV, to give the current talent a platform to win new fans. They sell tickets to sustain the industry, if fan favourites were at the centre of WWE the business would go under in weeks. Fans must understand that the best wrestlers often don’t become the biggest stars.
In WWE, the entertainment factor far outweighs the wrestling side of the product. Wrestling ability is not directly proportional to star power. I REPEAT, wrestling ability is not directly proportional to star power. To be a star you must appeal to people and tell stories through your matches.
Has WWE tried to build new stars?
You can't say the WWE hasn't tried, they've tried to build new stars whilst using older ones to sustain interest in the product. Cena’s match against Ambrose & Styles at No Mercy was his first main event since October 2014, he’s taken a step back, while Reigns & Rollins have both had lengthy title runs.
They’ve been given the ball, but haven’t run very far. Remember in the Attitude Era, the Rock and Stone Cold, were the pinnacle of the business, while a young HHH gained valuable rubs from them, until he was ready to lead the company himself. Once he was established, Vince ushered in the next set of guys seamlessly and he’s trying to do that now.
It's all well and good to say the current roster doesn't have star power, but if we look closely there is ample amount of potential. It all depends on how they're marketed and presented to the masses, poor booking in the past has devalued current stars, especially Bray Wyatt.
You must give the public a reason to invest in new stars and want to pay to see them. They must stand out but also fit in with society's current trends.
Never forget that the professional wrestling industry is still a small niche in today's world. Our fan base is minuscule in comparison to other sports, regardless of our dubious online presence.
To succeed and progress, the company needs more star power to appeal to the wider public and casual viewers. At the moment, there's not enough to combat WWE’s declining popularity.
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