Is the WWE Landscape About to Change? | Smark Out Moment

Is the WWE Landscape About to Change?

Posted by Outside Interference Wednesday, March 13, 2019
When you mention the term 'Sports Entertainment' there is one company and, by extension, one man who have been synonymous with its global boom over the past four decades. That company is WWE and the man is none other than Vince McMahon.

The 73-year-old has had a vice-like grip on the wrestling business up until now and rarely has his and WWE's status quo been threatened. That was, until the tail end of 2018 and the emergence of a new player on the scene.

The arrival of All Elite Wrestling

AEW, a company founded by American businessman Tony Khan, has delivered a lightning bolt to the industry, one that was in danger or has arguably already become stagnant due to a lack of serious WWE competitors.

Not since the end of the 'Monday Night Wars' back in 2001 has McMahon's wrestling juggernaut had to deal with anything that resembles competition. That scenario is surely set to change once AEW start promoting shows on a more regular basis.

When the two companies try and exist in the same working space, WWE will still undoubtedly be the dominant player and it is a status that they will not be looking to relinquish at any point in the near future.

However, there is certainly an appetite for change and that change is being spearheaded by the likes of former WWE stalwart Cody Rhodes and independent stars Matt and Nick Jackson, who are otherwise known as 'The Young Bucks'.

Those three along with the 'Best Bout Machine' Kenny Omega have been an underground sensation in the past couple of years, something that can easily be attributed to their weekly Youtube show 'Being The Elite'.

What started off as a simple travelog has blurred the lines between real life and fiction. It is this form of storytelling that has captivated a legion of fans and it is these fans who are ready to mobilize their support for the relatively new kids on the wrestling block.

The arrival of AEW has created something of an arms race when it comes to signing the hottest free agents in the business. The signature of 48-year-old Jericho, who for many was viewed as a WWE lifer, is one that will have undoubtedly bloodied the nose of Vince McMahon. It is the first skirmish in an upcoming wrestling war.

Network television to the rescue

Yet, although the AEW may have pulled the rug from under WWE this time around, one must not forget that the latter will have an ace up their sleeve at the end of the year. That ace comes in the shape of a huge network television deal with FOX.

Last June, the two entities signed a five-year deal that sees the network become the home of Smackdown. As a result, WWE is set to collect an eye-watering $1 billion dollars for their efforts of supplying weekly episodic content.

Of course, it's not just WWE's blue brand that will be the driving force behind a whole wave of new revenues. That's because NBC Universal will also be paying somewhere in the region of $265 million a year to continue hosting Raw on the USA Network.

It means, that the two new deals will have shifted the WWE revenue landscape considerably and the focus will now move away from the monthly specials that are found on their own online streaming network.

This begs the question of whether it will devalue such grand events as Wrestlemania - one that this year is set to be headlined by a triple threat match that includes the likes of former UFC star Ronda Rousey.

Occasions such as the annual WrestleMania, are ones where you can put your money where your mouth is and bet on who you will think will come out on top in a number of in-ring athletic contests.

Even though the fights are pre-determined, the increase in fan interest has meant that bookmakers are now opening markets on who will be victorious. A visit to the Oddschecker website will help you locate free bet offers at the online bookies, a solid suggestion for new customers wanting to place a bet.

A new approach

This kind of activity is synonymous with WrestleMania. As an event that attracts a greater deal of casual fans, it has stature as the 'grandest stage of them all'. And that's not going to diminish anytime soon. It's almost as if the event is no longer truly considered canon in regard to the rest of WWE's annual schedule, with the aim now being to try and get as much mainstream attention on the product as possible.

Therefore, it is now an event that stands on its own and can easily absorb any changes that WWE decide to make in terms of its focus. That cannot be said for the likes of events such as Fastlane or Backlash and we could now be in a position where we see such smaller monthly specials used as a promotional tool for marquee matches on either Raw or SmackDown, flipping the whole WWE model on its head.

Previously, the weekly episodes were the hook to get you to continue watching via either pay-per-view or paid streaming. Now it seems those mediums will act as filler before the next television cliffhanger.

But will WWE's new bosses stifle its creativity?

This will also have fans wondering if WWE are now having to dance to the tune that their new television paymasters are making, which may not end up being good for business. If the likes of FOX and NBC Universal start making demands on the viewing figures they want to achieve, they may end up having a creative influence and that could, in turn, dilute WWE's product.

It's a scenario their new rival AEW will not have to deal with (even if they do put pen to paper on the television deal reportedly in the works and looking set to be signed before a first set of shows in October).

That is because the likes of Cody Rhodes and the Jacksons are not looking to operate a business just to make a quick fistful of dollars: for them, it is about creating the viable alternative fans have been crying out for.

It seems the battle lines have now been drawn. At one end of the ring you have WWE with an almost infinite supply of television money, but potentially with their creative freedom stifled. At the other, you have AEW, who are gambling on changing the industry once for all.

We will have to wait and see who wins this new wrestling war. Ultimately though, there is already one winner and that is fans of the sport who now have a far greater choice in terms of their viewing pleasure. That can only be considered a good thing overall.

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