NJAF Presents: What are You Watching?

Brian Einhaus

What Are You Watching?

Do me a favor, please. Go to your television and flip through all of your channels. See how long it takes you. I know for most people in the world that very act would take a few minutes at the very least. Until 5 months ago, I had spent the last 3 years working for my local cable company. It was an eye opening experience to say the least. There are a lot of different ways that you can look at the WWE today. For the next few minutes, I wanted to present everyone with my perspective on the WWE product. By the time you get done reading this, you will know why really famous people call me Not Just Another Fan.

Everyone has his or her own set of “favorite shows”. (Keep in mind that I live in America…I am not familiar with the shows all over the world, but I’m sure they are similar.) In the last week alone WWE has had their two main shows appose such ratings juggernauts as CSI, The Apprentice, Survivor, Everybody Loves Raymond and Monday Night Football. Am I saying that during the ratings boom of the late 1990′s there was not as much competition? No, not really. What I am saying is that viewers are finicky. They watch the most “hyped” shows of the season. Everyone wants to watch what is popular…that way they can socialize with their coworkers and classmates about what happened the night before. People hate to be “out of the loop”.

Any sitcom or drama that lasts more than 2 or 3 seasons is able to survive because they have found their niche. The Broadcast or Cable Networks were able to successfully target their ideal viewers and can pretty much count on them to watch their program. As times change, viewers change too. Shows are left with 3 options as they plateau in viewership. They can admit defeat and the show can go off the air, they can maintain their current storylines & writing style and leave the show “as is”, or they can choose to change with the times and “evolve” as a show.

Vince McMahon is in a unique situation. He has had to make this choice…over and over and over. At this time in Sport Entertainment history we are just past a transition period and I believe we are at the start of a new era. Today there are a lot of different reasons that a person would watch WWE programming. You have sports, drama, suspense and even the occasional love story.

Whether you like or dislike the different aspect of WWE programming, you have to at least respect the fact that WWE has been able to keep such a large fan base over the years. Just think about your favorite sitcom or drama show. Once the show runs out of ideas or support the show ends. Sure, episodes are played again and again on replays…but they never change. This is the biggest reason that wrestling is like a soap opera. There are many American Soap Operas that have been on the air for 20 plus years and still have some of the original cast or characters…sound familiar? It is a constant struggle to keep the storylines fresh and try not to do things repeatedly.

I didn’t write this to compare WWE to a soap opera…but the similarities are very compelling. There are marriages (Kane & Lita), divorces or relationship problems (Vince/Linda and Matt/Lita), deaths (Al Wilson) and multiple lives (Undertaker). All this tells me is that WWE is reaching out to find the next generation or viewers. They have been trying new things for the last few years in hopes that they would somehow find that perfect balance that they are looking for.

It is a matter of fact that the fair weather fans of the 1990′s are gone. Most will probably never come back. They have moved on with their lives and have lost track of what has happened in wrestling for the last 3 or 4 years. Vince McMahon realizes this and also knows that this time period that we are in could be a make or break time for the future of the WWE. Much like the mid 1990′s, there are a lot of new faces and a lot of uncertainty about who the leaders of the next generation will be. Honestly, I think the future looks brighter now, than it did then.

It is our choice as fans whether of not we support the new Super Stars of today/tomorrow. If we sit back and do nothing but criticize the new talent, than we are not helping our own cause. At the same time, I am in no way saying that we can’t be critical of some of the management decisions that are made that we feel hurt the product. That is our right as a paying customer. We need to find that balance where we can appreciate the fact that we are “faithful fans” and we get to see the birth of a lot of the future Super Stars that will bring WWE back to the level it was before…if not further. The old fans might not come back…but there are plenty of new fans waiting to be won over by the best mixture of wrestling action and entertainment ever.

Summary:

The aim of this column wasn’t to prove anything. I simply wanted to give you something to consider while watching WWE programming. I know that it is popular among the IWC to point out nothing but the bad and I thought it might be refreshing to focus on something positive.

Don’t forget my survey. I have been swamped with replies and I am excited about my Special Survey Results Column next week. If you have not had a chance to complete my survey simply go to my most recent column before this one and fill it out. If you have any questions or you want to tell me what you thought about my column this week just send me an email to feedback@notjustanotherfan.com and I will be glad to get back with you!

John Wilson

Not Just Another Fan

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