Should WWE Have an Off-Season?
This weeks edition of Raw was billed as a “season première” a title that most TV programs use to kick-off their show after an extended break away from television. Confusingly for this weeks Raw, the “première” backed directly onto last weeks show – which oddly enough was never advertised as a season finale anyway. WWE’s poor attempt at marketing really did leave much to be desired, but it re-iterate the fact that WWE runs all year round without stopping for breath.
In the light of recent news about deaths and serious illness based around pro-wrestlers using steroids and drugs (Lance Cade and Jim Neidhart spring immediately to mind) it raises the question as to whether WWE works its wrestlers far too hard, and for far too much of the year without any substantial break to allow time for a wrestler to mentally and physically recover.
No sport ever runs all year around. Perhaps it’s because that team sports have seasons and tables, and these need to be able to naturally conclude without a brand new season hot on the heels of the old one. But also because sportsmen need time off. To get away from the sport, and to physically recover after a hard season. Should WWE offer it’s performers more of the same? From a moral stand-point, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Business wise, of course it doesn’t make sense. An off season of 6 to 8 weeks in length would deprive the company of TV revenue, PPV buys, and house show gate money amongst a whole host of revenue streams. But that’s not to say you couldn’t work around it. Rather than having an off-season, maybe you could simply stagger each wrestler with an individual 6 – week break at various points during the year. There’s no doubt that WWE has the talent to cover a few people being on holiday. Or simply chose a period to do a series of double taping weeks without house shows in between so that talent can spend 10 days at home with their families.
Maybe the problem is simply that most of these problems don’t seem to surface until after talent have retired. Matt Hardy’s mental and physical breakdown seem to be the exception, rather that the rule, but it could simply be scratching at the surface at what could be a very ugly core. WWE doesn’t appreciate or simply wants to ignore what toll their timetables are having on their talent.
WWE continues to open up new grounds with its tour locations – as their recent trip to China illustrates. Running all year round, travelling more and more cannot be doing good for the physical and mental well being of wrestlers. It’s a big reason as to why Kurt Angle left the company in 2007, and it’s only a shame that WWE is the only really big player in the wrestling industry. Unless you can fall into TNA’s lap, it’s either accept the raw deal WWE gives you, or give up your career. For most, there is no option.
Regrettably the WWE are highly unlikely to change their ways, unless some serious health issues crop up as a result of it. But they should take a serious look at how they look after their talent, this recent spate of wrestling deaths are no coincidence. Their “act now, feel the consequences later approach” really isn’t a good thing.
And, maybe from an interest stand-point having an off season would be good for the viewer. WWE is a relentless machine, 3 times a week – every single week. There’s no anticipation or build-up if WWE runs all year around. If you have a two month break, it could benefit everyone. Regrettably, while it benefits WWE’s balance sheet to run all year around, nothing will change.
As ever, I’ll happily listen to feedback. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can get me on twitter on http://www.twitter.com/bobbybamber.