Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

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Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by Big Red Machine » May 7th, '18, 19:01

On Sunday WWE put on the first of their once again dual-branded monthly PPVs… and it stunk. By now you’ve probably already heard a million people talk about how boring they thought most of the matches were and how bad the booking was, so I’m going to use this article to talk about something else, which might actually be more important in the long run.
The biggest mistake WWE made with this show was not doing a non-finish in a No DQs match for the WWE World Heavyweight Title or putting Roman Reigns on last and having him beat Samoa Joe again, or having Carmella beat Charlotte cleanly, or even wasting everyone’s time with that completely idiotic and random comedy segment that went on forever. The biggest mistake WWE made with this show was having it be a dual-branded PPV.

In an article I wrote almost two years ago in which I laid out the reasons to be optimistic about the new brand split, one of the things I focused on was that splitting the roster into two shows with separate PPVs would open up spots on the PPVs that would need to be filled, which would result in more wrestlers being able to be placed in prominent positions because you need two sets of top guys, two sets of upper-midcarders, two sets of midcards because you were now trying to fill up two separate full-lengths PPVs instead of one. The move to one PPV a month not only eliminates this strength but actually makes things worse than they were before because you now have two sets of titles that need to be featured instead of one.
Asuka, Finn Balor, Sasha Banks, The New Day, Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt, Rusev, Bobby Roode, the Bludgeon Brothers, The Usos, Sheamus & Cesaro, Jinder Mahal, Cedric Alexander, All of these wrestlers are either currently champions or have been relatively pushed acts in the past year, and none of them got to wrestle on tonight’s show. And this was a show on which NONE of WWE’s big-name part-timers (Cena, Brock, Kurt, Hunter, Shane, Ronda) wrestled. You’ll also notice that none of the post-WrestleMania NXT call-ups were featured on this show. How are McIntyre, Almas, SAnitY, Ember Moon, etc. supposed to get over if they can’t even get a spot on the big monthly show, never mind win a big match on one?
Okay… well if switching to dual-branded PPVs is such a bad move creatively, then why did WWE make it? The only reason anyone has heard was because they got no increase in Network buys by offering two PPVs a month instead of one, and thus it wasn’t worth spending the money for a second PPV.
I’d tend to think that if they’re not making a profit simply on the gate alone with the prices they charge for PPV tickets, that’s probably a very bad sign, the issue I want to talk about here is WWE’s original assumption and the flaws it exposes in the way they think about the product that they have gambled so much on over the past few years, the WWE Network:
They were assuming that they would get some sort of substantial increase in Network subscriptions by providing a second monthly PPV show most months. Why did they think that would work in the first place?
While it is technically more bang for your buck, the savings we already get by subscribing to the WWE Network instead of ordering the PPVs on actual PPV were already enough to motivate someone who wants to see WWE’s big shows to order the Network. I’m skeptical that there is anyone out there who subscribed to the WWE Network after the brand split solely because they would now get two PPVs each month instead of one for the same $9.99. If you want to watch the PPVs, you’re going to pay the $9.99 and subscribe to the WWE Network, and if PPV aren’t interesting you enough to get you to pony up ten bucks, then adding a second installment of what is essentially the same product is not going to make you change your mind.
This is yet another instance of WWE seeming to not understand why people subscribe to the WWE Network, and when you realize just how much WWE has invested in the Network (just the lost revenue on PPVs alone over the first several years was substantial, and I’m not quite sure they’ve even hit the point where they have enough paid subscriptions to make what they were making before, never mind costs incurred in trying to set up original programming), that’s a scary thought.
In my opinion, there are three major driving forces for people who subscribe to the WWE Network
1. To see the big shows for a much cheaper price than on PPV
2. On-demand access to the library (and particularly the territory video libraries which aren’t anywhere near as easy to find on YouTube or Dailymotion as old WWE, WCW, and ECW shows are).
C. Shoot stuff (Yes, I know WWE often has their own version of history, but my guess is that that is a draw for fans who don’t realize this [I know that’s how I was when Confidential first aired]. This also does overlap a bit with #2 in the case of WWE DVDs with a shooty component like the Person X’s life story DVDs or Rise and Fall of ECW).
With the exception of the Monday Night War (which was mostly just a rehash of old WWE lines rather than any attempt at being anything new) and the occasional live podcast interview from either Austin or Jericho (which they don’t seem to do anymore) the WWE Network content that WWE has pushed the most has usually either been #1 (which ignores people who are not fans of the current product by are fans of products whose library WWE owns), or it has been “original programming” that usually trends towards goofball comedy, often requiring a lot of extra effort (and even paying Jerry Springer) to help them make. The Edge & Christian Show or Camp WWE are things people might check out when it’s free or it’s part of a service they’re already paying for, but no one is subscribing to the WWE Network just to watch New Day prank someone.

WWE has thrown away a great boon of having one monthly PPV for each brand, and they have done so because even after five years, they still seem to lack an understanding of what drives subscribers to a platform that they chose to go all-in on. I fear that the switch to dual-branded PPVs will create more shows like Backlash. They won’t all be as poorly booked or as dull in the ring, but I think we will continue to have a significant number of important players left off of the cards, resulting in stagnation in both the undercard and tag team division (and probably the Smackdown women’s division as well), which will result in a worse product. And the scariest part about it is that WWE seems to be miles and miles away from being in the right mind-set to be able to fix it, all because they still don’t understand what drivers potential subscribers to a service they have gambled a good chunk of their future on.


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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by Bob-O » May 7th, '18, 20:38

I can't speak for everyone, but every single Network subscriber I personally know buys it for the PPV's. NONE of the subscribers I personally know would care if the tape library went away, or the branded programming... I doubt they could even name 2 WWE Original Shows.

In my opinion, the real key to utilizing this "all in" investment is to get Raw and Smackdown on it live. I'm sure there's clauses and such that they have with the networks as to why this isn't a thing already, but if they want growth they HAVE to get more live content. Not pre-recorded shows like NXT and 205, which are nice, but they aren't bringing in new subscribers when Hulu's the same price. Why they don't stream house shows is beyond me...

Dual Brand PPV's can work just fine once they find a rhythm and get the formula right. As long as they don't feature the same talent on every show, I think it'll be a good thing. It should make TV a little better, since you can't blow off every feud on PPV anymore, and it should make the PPV's a little better because they chose to blow these off on PPV. The NXT call ups have hardly been on Television, why put them on PPV simply because they're new? That's not what the big shows are for.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by cero2k » May 7th, '18, 20:49

two things worth adding, a legit driver to subscriptions I think is NXT and those tournaments, they're not the top source, but I can imagine a lot of people got the network for that sole thing, at least the Takeovers

I think a big mistake that WWE makes with the network is that they're always showing off the number of subscribers and not the revenue and I'm not so sure if they pay enough attention. When you have subscribers that paid .99, 1.99, and 2.99, and sometimes free, that's obviously going to yield a smaller revenue to what you're trying to offer the payers. So we have the WWE making all this 'original' content and extra PPVs, but it's being built under a framework that gets subscriber numbers, not money to actually pay for those shows and yield profit, so after the Vince is done with his current power trip and finances actually start to crunch numbers, they realize, oh shit, we're spending more than we were making.

So indeed the future will have more shows like this, dual branded, some will be bad because they'll try to push as much as possible and they'll be 4 hrs, some may end up being better like MITB that will now have to force them to have 1 MITB for both shows, making it more exciting.

Having said that, networks subscribers will stay there, for many reasons that don't have to be because the 'like' the product. Tricky thing is to have people to keep coming to the live shows (which i also think people will keep going for the sake of 'being on raw/tv')

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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by KILLdozer » May 7th, '18, 22:13

cero2k wrote:
May 7th, '18, 20:49
two things worth adding, a legit driver to subscriptions I think is NXT and those tournaments, they're not the top source, but I can imagine a lot of people got the network for that sole thing, at least the Takeovers

I think a big mistake that WWE makes with the network is that they're always showing off the number of subscribers and not the revenue and I'm not so sure if they pay enough attention. When you have subscribers that paid .99, 1.99, and 2.99, and sometimes free, that's obviously going to yield a smaller revenue to what you're trying to offer the payers. So we have the WWE making all this 'original' content and extra PPVs, but it's being built under a framework that gets subscriber numbers, not money to actually pay for those shows and yield profit, so after the Vince is done with his current power trip and finances actually start to crunch numbers, they realize, oh shit, we're spending more than we were making.

So indeed the future will have more shows like this, dual branded, some will be bad because they'll try to push as much as possible and they'll be 4 hrs, some may end up being better like MITB that will now have to force them to have 1 MITB for both shows, making it more exciting.

Having said that, networks subscribers will stay there, for many reasons that don't have to be because the 'like' the product. Tricky thing is to have people to keep coming to the live shows (which i also think people will keep going for the sake of 'being on raw/tv')
Just to counter the first point from knowledgeable experience-The network is completely non essential for Nxt. There's literally no point for having it for that-ALL Nxt is on Hulu actually...tournaments such as the DRTTC, And definitely Takeovers. They treat those big shows as just other episodes and include them. As Bob-O said, Hulu offers the same prices for everything.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by Big Red Machine » May 7th, '18, 22:21

Bob-O wrote:
May 7th, '18, 20:38
I can't speak for everyone, but every single Network subscriber I personally know buys it for the PPV's. NONE of the subscribers I personally know would care if the tape library went away, or the branded programming... I doubt they could even name 2 WWE Original Shows.
I have heard some old people say they subscribe for the territorial library.

In my opinion, the real key to utilizing this "all in" investment is to get Raw and Smackdown on it live. I'm sure there's clauses and such that they have with the networks as to why this isn't a thing already, but if they want growth they HAVE to get more live content. Not pre-recorded shows like NXT and 205, which are nice, but they aren't bringing in new subscribers when Hulu's the same price. Why they don't stream house shows is beyond me...[/quote]

WWE has WAY too much money wrapped up in TV contracts to stick Raw and SD live on the network is their TV partners don't want that. That's where the majority of their income is from.
Bob-O wrote:
May 7th, '18, 20:38

Dual Brand PPV's can work just fine once they find a rhythm and get the formula right. As long as they don't feature the same talent on every show, I think it'll be a good thing. It should make TV a little better, since you can't blow off every feud on PPV anymore, and it should make the PPV's a little better because they chose to blow these off on PPV. The NXT call ups have hardly been on Television, why put them on PPV simply because they're new? That's not what the big shows are for.
The flaw in your theory that this will make the TV better because some feuds will blow off on TV is that you are assuming that WWE is competent.


If you're not going to use the NXT call-ups on TV, why did you call them up at all?
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by Big Red Machine » May 7th, '18, 22:29

cero2k wrote:
May 7th, '18, 20:49
two things worth adding, a legit driver to subscriptions I think is NXT and those tournaments, they're not the top source, but I can imagine a lot of people got the network for that sole thing, at least the Takeovers
I factored this into the PPVs, as it's really Takeover that drives subscriptions rather than the regular NXT show because the regular NXT show is on Hulu.
cero2k wrote:
May 7th, '18, 20:49
I think a big mistake that WWE makes with the network is that they're always showing off the number of subscribers and not the revenue and I'm not so sure if they pay enough attention. When you have subscribers that paid .99, 1.99, and 2.99, and sometimes free, that's obviously going to yield a smaller revenue to what you're trying to offer the payers. So we have the WWE making all this 'original' content and extra PPVs, but it's being built under a framework that gets subscriber numbers, not money to actually pay for those shows and yield profit, so after the Vince is done with his current power trip and finances actually start to crunch numbers, they realize, oh shit, we're spending more than we were making.
I think they're well aware of all of this and this and it's their way of hiding the fact that they're not making as much money as you'd think they would be.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by XIV » May 8th, '18, 06:20

NXT, 205 Live, Camp WWE and Table for 3... these are the only reasons I subscribe.

I don't even subscribe for the PPVs... theyre just a bonus.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by KILLdozer » May 8th, '18, 07:46

205 is also on Hulu.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by XIV » May 8th, '18, 09:07

KILLdozer wrote:
May 8th, '18, 07:46
205 is also on Hulu.
I’m British and entirely unaware of what Hulu is...
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by KILLdozer » May 8th, '18, 09:27

XIV wrote:
May 8th, '18, 09:07
KILLdozer wrote:
May 8th, '18, 07:46
205 is also on Hulu.
I’m British and entirely unaware of what Hulu is...
It's like another Netflix/viewing app. I'm watching last night's Raw on it now. I'd actually rate it above Netflix because not only do they do full seasons of things...new current shows have the new episodes up weekly, the next day. Every nxt takeover is there as well, yes with the next day policy also.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by cero2k » May 8th, '18, 11:54

I think i'm the only american that thinks that hulu is completely irrelevant. Even I would see more value in subscribing to the WWE network than hulu if I want to watch NXT

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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by Bob-O » May 8th, '18, 20:43

cero2k wrote:
May 8th, '18, 11:54
I think i'm the only american that thinks that hulu is completely irrelevant. Even I would see more value in subscribing to the WWE network than hulu if I want to watch NXT
Well yeah, Hulu would be stupid if you subscribed JUST for WWE's programming. In my case, I "cut the chord" in my house. ALL of my TV is streamed through services, I see no point in a $100 cable bill when my kids dominate the TV 95% of the time. Hulu is ABSOLUTELY relevant! More than enough variety for my entire family, current episodes, and more than enough Wrestling for me the 5% of the time I can secure the remote. I pony up for the network for Wrestlemania and MITB religiously, then maybe another month if a show looks too good to miss and I don't feel like gambling with KODI to watch it. I get my fill of the tape library during those times, but otherwise I don't see the point of the extra $10 a month. I'm not sure why tf they air TakeOver next day on Hulu, but I'm DEFINITELY not complaining - I'd buy the Network to watch TakeOver every single time... but I don't have to.

What makes it relevant to me is the WWE programming, if WWE left Hulu I'd be a full time Network subscriber to get the next day replays and make the rest of the fam watch the free apps. But for now, Hulu offers that and SO MUCH MORE for the same price.

I'm sure I'm not alone on that, driving home my point. If you're coming for the tape library, you're likely already there and have been for some time. I don't think they've got anything in the archives now that they can add that'll bring in new subscribers, they just slowly roll out more to keep these folks around. They need to do more live stuff if they want to grow, plain and simple. They can't survive without the networks, and they can't exactly grow while working with the networks either. They need to figure out an easy, cost effective, way to get some exclusive live content - which is why I say broadcast the house shows! They've got cameras running for the house feed, they've got more than enough technology already there, they just need an announcer - which wouldn't be hard.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by KILLdozer » May 8th, '18, 21:03

Yeah, I pretty much only watch my current usual shit the next day on Hulu, including the non wrestling, so there's really not much else I need.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by Big Red Machine » May 8th, '18, 21:09

Bob-O wrote:
May 8th, '18, 20:43


I'm sure I'm not alone on that, driving home my point. If you're coming for the tape library, you're likely already there and have been for some time. I don't think they've got anything in the archives now that they can add that'll bring in new subscribers, they just slowly roll out more to keep these folks around. They need to do more live stuff if they want to grow, plain and simple. They can't survive without the networks, and they can't exactly grow while working with the networks either. They need to figure out an easy, cost effective, way to get some exclusive live content - which is why I say broadcast the house shows! They've got cameras running for the house feed, they've got more than enough technology already there, they just need an announcer - which wouldn't be hard.
I think you're underestimating the amount of stuff in the library that isn't out yet. And they're not necessarily slow-rolling it. A lot of it has unlicensed music and other things that need to be cleaned up.

Broadcasting house shows won't help them. It will only expose things that a lot of casual fans don't necessarily know that will make house shows feel less important (like the fact that the house show you get is basically the exact same thing as the people in last night's town got), or will screw them up even more than usual with continuity (remember earlier this year when Roman was suspended... but still worked the house shows?). It will also expose both smaller crowds and the fact that WWE usually doesn't run particularly big buildings for house shows (because they don't draw that well- they're still a step above what ROH will draw on their biggest shows, but WWE wants us to think that they always draw in the 12,000 & up range, not half of that).

The way to grow their Network numbers is extremely simple. It's the exact same way to increase live attendance and TV ratings: put on a better product.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by NWK2000 » May 16th, '18, 11:09

I'm all for one PPV a month. I went to Money in the Bank last year, and had paid for my tickets in advance of the Superstar Shakeup. The main reason why I wanted to go was to see Nakamura wrestle. Now, I pose to you, what if for some reason, they'd traded Nakamura to Raw? I would have essentially paid money to see a guy who I would suddenly not be seeing.

Now in this dual brand environment, all the top stars are under one roof once a month. Obviously, the drawback of that is that some mid-card storylines are kept exclusively to TV, but I'd rather have a crazy stacked main event MITB than an abundant mid-card of people I don't care about. And also I'm not the only one who thinks that as a ton of people got their tickets as comps for MITB. What you've written out is very true and concise, but I'd figure I'd throw my hat in as someone who's attended a PPV live recently.
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by Big Red Machine » May 16th, '18, 11:28

NWK2000 wrote:
May 16th, '18, 11:09
I'm all for one PPV a month. I went to Money in the Bank last year, and had paid for my tickets in advance of the Superstar Shakeup. The main reason why I wanted to go was to see Nakamura wrestle. Now, I pose to you, what if for some reason, they'd traded Nakamura to Raw? I would have essentially paid money to see a guy who I would suddenly not be seeing.

Now in this dual brand environment, all the top stars are under one roof once a month. Obviously, the drawback of that is that some mid-card storylines are kept exclusively to TV, but I'd rather have a crazy stacked main event MITB than an abundant mid-card of people I don't care about. And also I'm not the only one who thinks that as a ton of people got their tickets as comps for MITB. What you've written out is very true and concise, but I'd figure I'd throw my hat in as someone who's attended a PPV live recently.
MITB would be one I would do as a dual-branded show (and scrap Survivor Series all together), but that's neither here nor there.

I see what you're saying, but I think that's a risk you take as a consumer. Nakamura could have missed the show because of injury, too, and you'd be in the same boat. My assumption is that people going to a live show just to see one wrestler are pretty rare. When I went to SD I was disappointed I didn't get to see Alexa Bliss! wrestle, but I still got to see Kane, AJ, and American Alpha, plus an awesome title match between Miz and Ziggler, plus a really good women's brawl, and Taker and Edge were there to cut promos. Are you really telling me you wouldn't have been satisfied if you still got to see two MITB matches, Owens, Zayn, AJ, Orton, Charlotte, Nattie, Becky, Usos, etc.?
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Re: Backlash Was A Bad Show, But It Exposed A Much Deeper Issue For WWE

Post by NWK2000 » May 16th, '18, 12:55

Big Red Machine wrote:
May 16th, '18, 11:28
NWK2000 wrote:
May 16th, '18, 11:09
I'm all for one PPV a month. I went to Money in the Bank last year, and had paid for my tickets in advance of the Superstar Shakeup. The main reason why I wanted to go was to see Nakamura wrestle. Now, I pose to you, what if for some reason, they'd traded Nakamura to Raw? I would have essentially paid money to see a guy who I would suddenly not be seeing.

Now in this dual brand environment, all the top stars are under one roof once a month. Obviously, the drawback of that is that some mid-card storylines are kept exclusively to TV, but I'd rather have a crazy stacked main event MITB than an abundant mid-card of people I don't care about. And also I'm not the only one who thinks that as a ton of people got their tickets as comps for MITB. What you've written out is very true and concise, but I'd figure I'd throw my hat in as someone who's attended a PPV live recently.
MITB would be one I would do as a dual-branded show (and scrap Survivor Series all together), but that's neither here nor there.

I see what you're saying, but I think that's a risk you take as a consumer. Nakamura could have missed the show because of injury, too, and you'd be in the same boat. My assumption is that people going to a live show just to see one wrestler are pretty rare. When I went to SD I was disappointed I didn't get to see Alexa Bliss! wrestle, but I still got to see Kane, AJ, and American Alpha, plus an awesome title match between Miz and Ziggler, plus a really good women's brawl, and Taker and Edge were there to cut promos. Are you really telling me you wouldn't have been satisfied if you still got to see two MITB matches, Owens, Zayn, AJ, Orton, Charlotte, Nattie, Becky, Usos, etc.?
Literally went to see Nakamura, Jinder inevitably win (my friend who went with me and I bonded over Jinder's reign) and Naomi vs Lana just to see how it would go. I cared so little about everything else.
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