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  1. #1
    Senior Member LWO4Life's Avatar
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    May 2018

    (YLC-Final 3) How to Lose Fans in 10 Days

    Itís amazing how fast time goes. You see, 20 years ago I started college and by default I gained access to the internet. It was August 1999, and I was now online fulltime. I think most wrestling fans from that era could remember the first wrestling rumor they saw online which completely hit. For me, it was the debut of Chris Jericho to Monday Night Raw. Now donít get me wrong, it was clear Jericho was jumping to WWF just from watching the two shows, but the rumors of him being the Millennium Man were what gained my interest. On August 9th, a group of guys crowded around a TV in the dorm lounge to watch Raw like we would continue to do all year. It was there that we witnessed the debut of Chris Jericho, and at the same time we saw another nail delivered to the coffin of WCW.

    I wanted to start with this because this was a tell tail sign that the gap in the Monday Night Wars was starting to widen. On this same night, WCW reintroduced Hulk Hogan in the red and yellow to a huge pop in the arena. Yet it felt like WWF overshadowed WCW on this night, as no one really was looking for a red and yellow Hogan, but many were excited to see a new face in WWF who had never been there before. As I found message boards and online wrestling forums, I read so many opinions on how to fix WCW. I read everything from, fire all the ďcreativeĒ (I forgot if that was said back then so forgive me if it wasnít) and hire WWFís writers, to stripping all the champions and putting the belts on ďinternet darlings,í to jobbing Hulk Hogan to younger stars. Over the next year and a half, I saw WCW try everything to stay in business, everything to stripping all of their champions of the titles and putting the belts on favorites like Chris Candido and Scott Steiner (and Jeff Jarrett as World Champ?), WCW hired Vince Russo from WWF to be in charge of their ďcreative,Ē and Hulk Hogan jobbed for Billy Fín Kidman.

    The point of all of this is to say, it gets very dangerous when a promotion starts to listen to fans when they are trying to correct themselves. Iím also explaining this because I want you, the reader, to know that Iím not going into this by saying I have all the answers. But what I am going to say is how WWE can bring back interest for me, but Iím not going to say anything unrealistic like ďcut Raw back to 2 hours,Ē or, remove Vince McMahon from all wrestling operations. Heck, from what I understand, I am Vince! With that said, if I were Vince, how would I make WWE great again?

    Cleaning Up

    I am going completely blind on this, but I think there needs to be clean up with the writing team, the staff and responsibilities. You see, the first thing any leader must do is look at the structure and see what works and what doesnít work. I am not a writing expert, but I can see that creative has many holes to it. Gone are the ďgloryĒ days of Vince, Bruce, and Pat, sitting pool side writing the next storyline. Gone are the days of Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara watching ECW to steaÖ find inspiration for their next drama filled storyline. In todayís world, we hear of 30 people writing teams. Now what are all these 30 people doing? Whoís writing, whoís formatting the shows, whoís in charge of what segment? It would be impossible to think you can have seven hours of live TV each week plus monthly specials and do it with only three guys next to a pool. In todayís world, you might need a team of 30 writers, and thatís perfectly fine. What Iíd like to do is to see if they are being used correctly. Are they working in teams, or are they working individually? Whoís come up with what idea? Who oversees what segment, if thatís how they break themselves up? Why does Vince rip up shows, and when he does, why is it the day of the show? Does Vince have time to read the show earlier than day of? All these questions need to be answers.

    Since itís now my job to fix things, I will start with fixing the writing team. Right now, it looks like on the Raw side at least, theyíve put Paul Heyman in charge which seems to have drastically improved the product. The product went from unwatchable a few months ago, to now having a few hot angles. With that said, Paul Heyman will still Paul Heyman. So well Paul Heyman seems to be feeding the Fiend and the two of them are working magic every Monday, we will still get a few Paul Heyman specials: Pregnancy swerves, monsters crushing the tag team division, start and stop pushes. Heyman is a genius with booking, but like anyone else, 3 hours of television is way too much to fill. So, I would make sure to keep the tried and true Heyman specials to a minimum. With that said, I wouldnít have Heyman book Smackdown as that would burn him out. Instead, I might put together the most unlikely duo in history.

    With the move to Fox, Smackdown must be booked as a legitimate sport. Fox isnít paying for soap opera, they are looking for a sporting event. So well putting Eric Bischoff in charge might be a start, Bischoff is not a creative guy. What he did was make Nitro look legitimate in terms of atmosphere. Creative though needs someone who is reality based, just like Bischoff is a reality-based producer. Yes, this will be controversial, but no one alive today books better reality base wrestling than Jim Cornette. The work he did with Ring of Honor was amazing, and itís that type of reality-base wrestling that can fit on Fox and not look out of place. It would also be interesting to see Cornette in a room full of Hollywood writers, but thatís why you must take inventory of whoís in the writing room. Maybe you have some writers who really want to do an old school style that they grew up with. Who better to work with than Mr. James E. Cornette himself.

    Now Whatís Missing?

    Do you smell what the Rock is cooking? Well it may look corny when you read it, when Dwayne Johnson said those words, thousands of people would spend their hard earn cash to watch him perform. On an episode of Smackdown, I remember Busta Rhymes being ring side in the height of his career. He was so happy to see the Rock, and even gave the old hand shake to hug greeting. After the show the Rock and Busta performed Under the Boardwalk for the live audience. When I watched things like this, it made me, a fan, want to go spend my hard earn money to watch the show. Thatís the idea of wrestling to begin with, the idea was always to get people to spend their hard earn money to watch the show. This is missing today. But you see, you canít just force this to comeback, it has to happen organically. At best you have to find the talent that can get you there, but it wouldnít happen overnight.

    The mainstream has changed, if Dwayne Johnson and Busta Rhymes started singing after a show, most people will ask, ďwhy is the Rock singing with that guy?Ē One argument that Iíve heard Jim Cornette say repeatedly is that todayís wrestlers look like guys at the local YMCA pick up games. This is so true, and it hurts the product. Itís not to say that these guys are killing the business, because they are not. The indy scene can look however theyíd like. But once you hit the WWE, you donít need to change your body type, but you do need to change your look. The mainstream audience does not want to pay money to see guys dress in cosplay, and this includes Roman Reigns. Currently itís said that Vince wants wrestlers to have a look so kids can dress like them. Iíd argue that Jon Moxley looks way more like a star in AEW than he ever did in WWE because in WWE he wore jeans. The wrestler canít look like they just came home from a 9-5 job. The wrestler must look like a STAR.

    If you watched the Rock in the 90ís, he was basically an updated version of Ric Flair, with Deion Sanders swagger. He was presented as a star. His shirt cost more than your car, he wore a watch that cost more than your mortgage, and he was presented as a true star. We the audience already see guys in jeans daily, what we want when we watch wrestling are stars. What wrestling is missing is that Cool factor. When Cornette says the Marks are now in the lockerroom, heís not wrong. To be clear, I am NOT saying this is a bad thing, but what is a bad thing is when WWE continues to present them as such. These athleteís love and dedication for pro-wrestling is what drives the product. With that said, itís time to change the presentation of these wrestlers and create stars. There is only one wrestler than ever could be a star in jorts, and from here on out jorts, jeans, pants, corporate dress cloths, whatever the hell Baron Corban, it should all be retired. If you wear cloths in a promo, thatís fine, as why would you have your gear on if it isnít time for your match. But when you wrestle, you should look like a wrestler, and you should be presented as larger than life.

    It maybe the simplest logic in all of wrestling, especially when explained by Paul Heyman himself. When asked how he booked a wrestling angle, Heyman said wrestling was easy. You have two people, you give them something to fight about, and then you must make people care. And the last few weeks on Raw, they are giving you a reason to care. But prior to Heyman coming in, it was that last part of people caring that truly stood out to me as something missing. If I could control Vince, Iíd always ask the question, why should I care? Every wrestler wants to push themselves, but why should anyone care? When Smackdown got the highest ratings, it was the build up to Kofi and Daniel Bryan. During that time, they made you care for Kofi. You see, they sprinkled in a bit of racism, just enough that some people will pick up on, but not so much to turn off the mainstream audience. And it made people care to see Kofi become the first African born WWE champion. But unless youíre in the main event, it feels like many wrestlers wonder the mid-card for years, and we the audience are not given a reason to care about them. Well if I was walking around as Vince, Iíd DEMAND we make people care about what we put on TV. There is so much TV right now, and so much filler. Jayo Felony once said, ďI can give it to you, so whatcha gonna do with it?Ē Well, thatís what Iíd address, we are given 7 hours of TV every week, what are we going to do with it? How are we going to make people care?

    To answer all that before I move on, Iíd focus on reality base stories for the wrestler. Not fake pregnancy angles, but if I want people to care for Mike Bennett, Iíd talk about his struggles with drug addiction, and how heís turning his life around to support his kids. With Maria having another baby, Iíd give Mike Bennett a drive that heís never had, because itís now or never to make it big. Make people want to care about him because they want to see him make it, yet you donít have to do a pregnancy swerve to do it. Instead, use his actual real life to make him relatable to the audience. You donít have to go deep into everyoneís life, but I guess we can start by not insulting the audience.

    Okay, One Wrestler Call Up

    I promised myself I wouldnít do this, but I canít help it. I would have to call up the Velveteen Dream. If Iím Vince, then I want this guy on the main roster as soon as possible. And I wouldnít go 50/50 booking with him. Oh no, he has everything I think a star wrestler should have. Heís unique, his promos are authentic, his personality is over the top, and he carries himself as larger than life. I would not put him in a faction, I would not job him, or have him lose only to look good. My pet project for the next year would be to make Patrick Clark a true star! One day I hope to see 21 Savage or Kodak Black ring side for a wrestling match, Dream come out in the outrageous way he does, and then have a connection with the rapper. When looking at making WWE Cool Again, there is only one star that can do that. Other wrestlers have lots of talent, but they donít strike me as a true mainstream star. John Cena was John Cena, CM Punk had lots of popularity at the same time Occupy Wall Street and other movements were happening, Daniel Bryan was the huge underdog. But not since then has WWE had a true star. They tried with Roman, but you canít just force a star when the audience isnít ready. Vince has always been bad at reading mainstream culture, or he would have understood why a CM Punk was resonating with the fans. With all of that said, the Dream is the new wave.

    I want to restate, I donít think I have all the answers on how to make WWE great again. If I did, Vince McMahon himself would fly me personally to Titan Towers and put me in an office and pick my brains until I had no brains to pick. But I do have observations as a fan. I honestly want WWE to succeed, as WWE has brought me joy for many decades now. With that said, it wouldnít be easy. I think WWE is making strides in many areas now. But more can be done. But I implore fans to look at the larger picture. Making anything great again is not easy, and it will take work. And if I got to be Vince, then Iím rolling up my sleeves.

  2. #2
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Like I said to Scott, I think it's tough to wring anything fresh out of this topic. The only surprise here was floating the idea that Cornette's ROH run was successful, when the consensus seems to be his mismanagement sent them careening off a cliff, pushing the blandest talent while alienating the most colorful and popular members of the roster. Cornette's career in creative seems to be mixed at best, he's had his successes but plenty of failures as well. I feel he's good at articulating, quite ferociously, why he feels certain things don't work, but his own vision is questionable for the fans of 2019.

    Loved the story of Busta Rhymes and the Rock, for me that was the strongest part of the column and if I'd seen this before you posted I would have suggested expanding the point of that story into the main theme of the column, with the parts about the writer's rooms, Heyman quirks, and the career of Mike Bennett cut down or removed entirely. Also gotta watch out for those typos still, I'm guessing you didn't mean to end the column with a concussion? I see some good stuff in here as always, my friend, and win or lose I hope to see you around here more often. I want more of the Undisputed series, damn it!!

  3. #3
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Rock solid stuff here. I agree with Mizfan...just not an easy topic to do anything original with given how many column inches and podcast minutes have been dedicated to fixing WWE. That said, this would be the type of column I'd generally still read on command if it popped up on the MP here.

    Small attention to detail related stuff may hurt you winning this. "Concussion" instead of "Conclusion" is the most obvious example because it stands out so much.
    Author of The WrestleMania Era book series, author of The Doctor's Orders columns on LOP since 2010, LOP Columns Hall of Famer, former host of The Doc Says podcast on LOP Radio (2013-2018), former LOP Raw and WWE PPV Reviewer (2006-2007), and former LOP Smackdown Reviewer (2004-2006)

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    30 writers is way too damn much. Who knows what anyone is doing unless thhey have aspecific formula that they stick to. To many questions arise when thinking about what those 30 writers do. That certainly explains why their shows never seem to be cohesive and lacks continuity because their are too many cooks in the kitchen and that can become chaotic.

    I actually like the idea of wrestlers having a unique look, but definitely NOT wearing clothes to the ring. Although, I didn't mind Dean Ambrose because that look just suited his character. Totally agree with you about the realit-based storylines as kayfabe is all but dead.

    I enjoyed this column and good luck dude.

  5. #5
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    The topic was a rough one for a final round in a tournament, not least of all because it's so difficult not to become a walking talking IWC stereotype when you're writing about. Your efforts at attempting to distance yourself from a know-it-all attitude in that respect were very welcome and a nice humble note to strike, that helped you avoid the bear trap that was the subject matter you were given. I think the prescient theme in your work throughout the tourney has been your struggle with creating a tightly structured piece of writing that progresses very naturally from point a to point z. You seem to often get so excited with what you want to say that the thoughts come tumbling out apace and the writing becomes scattershot for it. I thought that was a prevalent issue here.

    I know the issue of wasted words in introductions has come up repeatedly for almost every participant in this tourney too, and this felt like another instance of that again here. Personally, it's not uncommon for me to write an introduction to get me going then cull it as an edit before posting - don't be timid about doing something like that in future.

    I liked the column, though I didn't love it. The notion of bringing Jim Cornette back to run a more sports-oriented product on FOX was an interesting and bold one that I haven't seen floated elsewhere, so kudos there - but good luck getting him to work with a writing room of 30 employees! The Velveteen Dream idea isn't new to me, I've seen similar strong arguments made for him elsewhere. I'm personally yet to be convinced it isn't all just a little bit of giddy hype (I remember when people said Finn BŠlor's NXT run proved he'd catalyse a new wrestling boom and then not only did that not happen, he barely happened too). Ultimately, you struck at the core issue repeatedly though: the creative. Your arguments were strong, if familiar, and your writing was crisper than it has been for a couple of rounds now.

    Though saying Vince McMahon has 'never' been able to read popular culture well seems like an extreme argument, considering the pop culture success he enjoyed in the late 1980s and 1990s respectively.

    Good effort, good tourney and best of luck!

  6. #6
    Part Timer Maverick's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Hipsterville By Sea, United Kingdom
    This was a bit long and rambling for my tastes, and I didnít feel that you really offered much that was particularly concrete. I did, however, love the way you contextualised the fall of WCW as a company listening to fans as it tried to course correct and therefore crashing harder. I hadnít thought of that before. Nice point, well made. As Doc said, this is good solid main page fare. Do watch out for those little errors though.

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