Selling WrestleMania to the Lamen
Ok, so I originally had a relatively long blog all written out explaining how WWE doesn’t do enough to showcase its belts properly at WrestleMania, and I stick by that and will touch on it here, but as I was talking the blog through with my wife and showing her what I was getting across I hit a point…what WWE should be doing every year with WrestleMania is selling their product to new fans as well as keeping existing fans!
WrestleMania is what it says it is, it is a pop culture phenomenon! Last few years has seen Flo Rida, Snoop Dogg and Snooki just to name a few outside forces that have been lured in but even internally there are household names. The Rock, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, John Cena all known so that’s why they are front and centre on the posters and the marquee to rake in viewers. It’s main stream media attention at its finest!
But let’s look at it this way; imagine WrestleMania is a shop window:
In a shop window you put your special offers all designed to attract new customers. So, in much the same way WWE puts its special offers; Brock, Rock, Cena, Undertaker, front and centre so everyone can see them and even the casual fan can look at it and say “I know those guys.”
Once you’ve done that, in your shop window you put your glitzy designer items. For WWE, it’s the title belts! Yes, some of them may be rather ugly (Tag Titles to name one) but they are all unique and, ugly or not, look interesting so even a casual fan can look and say, “that’s interesting.”
You’ve got a new customer in your shop, now guide them round with some customer service so they find what they’re looking for. With WWE, it’s step-by-step simple storytelling to help the people you’ve attracted.
A casual fan, or even a movie goer lets say, hears that The Rock is in WWE and thinks, ‘I wonder what he’s doing back there?’ They tune in and see he’s the champion, they’re interested. Then they see John Cena come out and say he’s going for Rock to avenge his loss to Rock and claim the belt at the same time!
Your new fan then sees Brock Lesnar, he sort of recognises him from UFC, adds an air of legitimacy in the fans mind, here’s a UFC guy in WWE. Then Triple H, a casual fan would register the name and sees the two brawling and understands that Brock attacked Triple H’s father-in-law. We have a personal motivated feud. The new fan gets it and roots for Triple H.
(Fantasy booking ahead based on rumour)
Out comes CM Punk boasting that he was Champion for 434 days, fan thinks ‘wow, well done’ but then he’s screaming that he’s The Best In The World and that he’s God, fan now switches opinion and thinks ‘wow, he’s a bit of a prick’. Then out comes The Undertaker. New fan is aware of Undertaker, he was probably around when the fan was a kid. He’s here to shut him up, good!
Then you have Jack Swagger come out and saying that America is for Americans and keep the Mexicans out and so on. The new fan thinks ‘how dare he say that, that’s wrong!’ Del Rio comes out smiling so we know he’s the good guy and stands up for the people, the fan knows to cheer for that guy!
Then after Del Rio overcomes here comes a guy with slick blonde hair, fans instantly see he’s a show off and think he’s a bit of an arrogant dick but he has something in his hand, a briefcase. Clever commentary puts over that it has a contract for a title shot anytime anywhere. The fan thinks ‘that’s a clever concept, oh no he’s just beaten that guy we were cheering for but that’s ok because this guy could only beat him for the title after he’d already had a match.’
Caesaro has the US Title and is waving a US flag. First the new fan thinks, ‘What a Patriot’ but then the fan finds out Caesaro is Swiss and says that he does it because no American is strong enough to hold the flag, again their opinion switches and out comes Miz to defend the people.
And so on and so on. Swift introductions to these characters all with belts or not and the fans can see who’s fighting who and why, that’s your customer service. The customer (the fan) is satisfied with what’s on offer and buys the product.
I know this may seem like simple science to a lot of us long time fans but it seems to be a science that’s fading. WWE needs to sell its product based on what it has available all the time, it’s regular players and it’s belts. They shouldn’t rely on Rock and Brock and potential celebrities to sell it, whilst it doesn’t hurt its not a long term fix either.
Like in retail you need to keep your customer coming back and WWE can do that with simple stories and solid character introduction. To the regular viewer it’s new storylines, but to the new viewer everything’s new and if they like what they see, they’ll keep coming back.
As always, I welcome healthy debate, agreement, disagreement, it’s all good and that’s why I love wrestling; there are very few right and wrong answers.
New WWE Title Belt
It’s an improvement on the spinner…just! But the spinner had a redeeming feature of the main faceplate at least looking sort of like a Title Belt and at least you could say you were going for the gold, now you risk saying “going for the black!” (walking in to racist territory there, easy now)
So, open forum discussion; what is everyone’s favourite WWE belt? For me, in order:
2) Attitude Era World Title
3) Classic/Current Intercontinental
4) Tag Title up to 2002
5) Eagle World Title
Attitude Era IC
SmackDown Tag Title
Open Forum Question?
Why hasn’t there been a PROPERLY good Sonic game since Sonic & Knuckles (which granted had its flaws) or properly good Mario game since Mario 3 on the NES?
Is it because I came of age after these and nothing matches my childhood love for these or is it because there just hasn’t been?
How To Solve A Problem Like Ryback
So, with Big Hungry being given the title match for Hell In The Cell the question is will Punk continue on as champ or will Ryback be given the rub?
Whilst I’ve started to come around to what a Ryback is and the point of him, but I have to believe the undefeated streak is coming to an end. So, the real question is how do you do that without hurting him?
The end game for this, shall we say, experiment, should be to put over Punk as champion overcoming the stacked deck but to put over Ryback as a credible contender but it is all down to how the finish is executed.
Since a DQ, Count-Out or No Contest finish are pretty much out the window, it leaves only pin and submission to get the job done and like I said, it’s how you do it that will make all the difference!
So how could you do it wrong?
Whilst this would work for Punk, win by any means necessary however it happens, it doesn’t work for Ryback.
Example; Cena gets in to the Cell and goes to hit Punk with a chair, swing and a miss hitting Ryback and Punk gets the win. This makes Ryback look very weak. We’ve seen the guy tear through 3 guys at once and withstand a lot of offence so for him to go down like that makes him a normal beatable guy, albeit through special circumstance, but it takes away from his characters attraction that he is a machine.
This makes Punk look great and Ryback look week and I don’t think that’s the aim here. It’s the same problem as above. It makes him look beatable. Bear in mind, Kane didn’t tap out until his feud with Kurt Angle circa WrestleMania 19 and I think that’ll be the direction with ‘Back. Even when he gets pinned, it’ll be quite some time before he ever taps.
This I think is the solution. But to make it work Punk will have to do a massive beat down or find a way to keep him down, pin him under the steps or something. In doing so it will make it look as though Ryback would have to be destroyed before being beaten and Punk looks like the clever champ that found a way to beat the behemoth.
Punk gets out of the cell to escape the beat down. Ryback rips the cell door off to put him over as a monster and gives chase and here is where it could go in three directions for me.
He other way is to try find a way of ending with a No Contest but this would be 2 pay-per-views running with a draw/no contest outcome and you would risk discrediting Punk’s title reign and even make Ryback look bad.
There are, from where I stand, three potential scenarios that could be played out to perhaps one of the most complicated finish in WWE history.
1) Punk lies in wait backstage with something to put the Big Man down, wrench to the knee or something of that ilk to incapacitate, much in the way of the Shane McMahon/Kurt Angle finish have Punk wheel Ryback back to the ring for the pin. This makes Punk look like the smart heel and still makes Ryback look like a monster as Punk literally had to dig deep in the toolbox to beat him. This can also build to a Last Man Standing/Stretcher Match in future.
2) Same with slight twist, Punk goes to escape, cue Cena who stops him and throws him back. Ryback and Cena exchange pleasantries and as Cena tells him to “Finish Him” Punk has gone under the ring and grabbed something or has taken a camera and blasts Ryback. Again, Punk=smart heel, Ryback beaten by his inexperience/rookie error of taking his eye off the ball.
3) and most risky of all is the no contest. Punk gets mercilessly beaten down, low blow, escape, gets backstage, Ryback chases, Punk hits him with something in the parking lot, Punk escapes into waiting car driven by Heyman. Punk keeps hold of the title to keep his record alive but Ryback also remains undefeated. It’s not a perfect finish by any means and it would get a very negative crowd response but it keeps both men in tact in terms of records/streaks, especially if Undertaker/Ryback streak vs streak rumours are to be believed.
I personally think scenario 1 could and should be played out as it works best for everyone for my money and has a strong build to a rematch.
Like I said right at the start, it’s all about the execution of getting the balance absolutely right to make Ryback look like the monster they want him to and make a loss look like a win whilst at the same time making Punk be the smart heel who will pick up the win by any means necessary which is translated by the faces to the audience as being cowardly.
As always, I welcome feedback, comments, discussion, debate, but let’s keep it civil =)
Next time, I will be weighing in on the potential loss of one of WWE’s best athletes and whether she (yes SHE) is a victim of creative or bad timing.
All the best and enjoy Hell In The Cell, I’ll be on honeymoon with a wife who enjoys wrestling so I certainly will!
One thing I have always loved about professional wrestling is how open it is to opinion and debate and yet there is no real right or wrong answer.
In all my years of watching, the one great constant source of debate is the “One Or The Other” argument. This mostly occurs between he top baby faces or top baby face and top heel generally brought about by the top on going feud of the era, where fans feel like they have to pick a side.
Key examples; in the 80’s you were either Hogan or Savage, Hogan or Warrior. In the 90’s you were Bret or Shawn. In the late 90’s, you were Rock or Austin. At the turn of the Millennium you were Rock or Triple H then Triple H or Austin. In the mid-00’s it was Edge or Cena and now its Punk or Cena. All top feuds and top superstars.
But what about everyone else? There are guys who have had great feuds over the years but get, for lack of a better term, lost in the shuffle to the marquee feud. These are the middle of the road wrestlers. The guys we know and love but have never had that moment of being One Or The Other. These are The Expendables!
It’s hard to think that two of the longest serving guys in the WWE, Kane and Undertaker fall into this category. Whilst they’ve had notable feuds, usually with each other, they’ve never been a One or the Other.
Chris Jericho, despite his years of service and tremendous feuds (see his feud with Mysterio for the IC belt a few years ago), he’s never been that guy. Even when he was Undisputed Champ, what Rock or Austin were up to were bigger, not to mention the nWo coming in.
Eddie Guerrero came very close with JBL. Their feud solidified JBL as a super-heel and I loved it so much, as a fan of well rounded heels and an Eddie fan, I found it hard to choose between who I liked more. It sadly didn’t seem to quite stand the test of time or run a longer course.
As we move in to modern times, Ziggler is currently at that point but I can see him getting into a very high profile and long running feud down the line.
The list can go on and on as guys who have proven to be work horses and and guys who have always done the job always just never quite managed to get that big money feud; guys like:
Goldust (to a lesser extent)
And many more.
I’m sure there will be those who disagree with me, especially on Undertaker and Jericho. As I’ve said though, all these guys had tremendous feuds but none where they could work for years and still have the same heat they had as when they first started much like Rock and Austin.
I’m always open to comment and debate so please weigh in and let’s salute and celebrate The Expendables
Its been a while…
So I’ve not blogged in a very long time, not that anyone really cares I’m sure ha.
As it is, in a few short weeks I will be a married man and I couldn’t be happier. But that’s not all that had kept me away from the blogosphere (wow my predictive text actually understood blogosphere). I’ve been a busy boy and just in general haven’t felt the urge.
But the pull is coming back. There’s a lot going on in the Big W that I’m feeling opinionated about and in general there’s a lot going on with my other passions in life as well so there could well be a full blown barrage of stuff coming everyones way.
I’m wondering if anyone would actually PAY to hear my thoughts and opinions. There are a lot of “freelance writers” out there getting paid for releasing poorly written articles and there are plenty of podcasters and vloggers out there gettin minor side incomes…maybe I can be one too and actually do a minor something with my degree.
For those who don’t know and for those who care (but I suppose if you end up reading this you care to an extent), I have a BA Hons. in Creative Writing and since I know I’ve not got a novel coming out anytime soon I may as well try do something semi-related.
Let me know if you know of any ways I can make a bit of pocket money from blogging and the likes please and thank you :-)