10 Things WWE Should Borrow From Pro-Sports
MMA, from Pancrase to Conor McGregor's Flair-like promos, is heavily influenced by pro-wrestling. But what can wrestling learn from MMA?
WWE, due to its philosophy of viewing "professional wrestling" as an antiquated carnival show, has long cast itself instead as a "sports entertainment" brand where technical athletic prowess takes a backseat to larger-than-life characters and soap opera-tinged storylines.
In recent years, however, the campy gimmicks and convoluted angles have gradually begun to give way to a more serious, shoot-like presentation where WWE Superstars real-life personalities and in-ring skills have played a more prominent role. In other words, sports entertainment has started to become just that...sports entertainment.
NXT in particular, with "Mr. Combat Sports" Mauro Ranallo on commentary and a distinct, hard-hitting, in-ring focus has proven that pure wrestling can not only thrive on its own but also outperform the main stage in terms of quality and galvanize more dedicated fans. The cruiserweight-centric 205 Live has also recently come into its own under the control of WWE COO Triple H, who upon taking over for XFL-focused Vince McMahon immediately dropped the gimmick-heavy, athletically-constrained presentation McMahon had insisted on and made it resemble the stellar Cruiserweight Classic, which had a distinct UFC feel.
Even the 2-hour 7-man RAW gauntlet match from earlier in 2018, with its small-screen ESPN-style backstage interviews during low points, was a boon for Monday Night ratings.
While no one begrudges personality, character development and storyline arcs (Gargano vs.Ciampa in NXT and the Golden Lovers in Japan prove that even wrestling's smarkiest fans are fans of a good narrative) a strong sports presentation in WWE would surely benefit them for the basic fact that real sports almost always use the same storylines because they’re simple and easy to sell. It is how the far more realistic-looking NJPW (the self-proclaimed "best in sports") has managed to amass a dedicated Western fanbase despite the language and cultural barriers. It's all in the presentation.
These are 10 things WWE should borrow from pro-sports.
#10 Tale of The Tape
Although this has been done in the past throughout WWE's history (and recently in NXT during a build-up to Heavy Machinery vs. War Raiders), the use of Tale of the Tape has been highly inconsistent. Normally a boxing and MMA on-screen graphic used to compare stats between competing fighters. Tale of the Tape could be a crucial tool in WWE and effectively used to build up matches which help draw ratings and Network subscriptions.
Making match-ups seem big and important is key, and TOTT is a tried and true method for creating the "big fight" feel necessary to keep interest in a boxing or MMA fight high. Fans ability to compare and contrast their favorite athletes' individual attributes could add another dimension to WWE's viewership.