Pyro is coming back to WWE! Raw and Smackdown are getting updated sets! Brock Lesnar might be working a full-time schedule on Smackdown Live! Raw and Smackdown are even getting their opening credits and themes back! If we’re lucky, titantrons might be evolving for the better! Who knows? What we do know is something that I think we have always known: Vince McMahon and the WWE haven’t given a shit in a long time. When you have the kind of monopoly in professional wrestling the WWE has had over the years, it’s easy to get stagnant. It’s easy to say, “Sure, show intros, cool sets, and pyro make for a more enjoyable product for the WWE viewer, but they’re going to tune in every week anyway, so let’s cut all that out and save a couple of bucks.” The company’s revenue stream set record numbers in the fourth quarter of 2018 and you wouldn’t know it from their Word Art titantrons and Michael Cole awkwardly welcoming the viewer to Monday Night Raw. The company wasn’t wrong that people wouldn’t tune out for slashing these things, but this kind of arrogant behavior from the powers that be was, well, wrong, in a different sense.
It was wrong to treat your loyal customers like addicts without an alternative supplier. Yes, we could easily give you something better, but we’re going to be withholding, because, well, we can. If you’re the WWE, how do you explain the sudden decision to make all of these changes? A move to a new network? Didn’t Smackdown Live move to a new network years ago? Sure, the FOX deal is huge, but it showed the company has always had the capability of creating a better product. They just didn’t care. While the company has never cared about your time, just look at the content calendar for the rest of 2019 that just includes the WWE -- it's preposterous. How NXT: UK and 205 Live haven’t been immediately dissolved and ushered into NXT at Full Sail is ludicrous. Instead of cutting production costs, why not cut entire shows that don’t matter and shouldn’t exist in the first place? This is beside the point, though, as even with all of these programs, the company could have empowered Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff years ago, the company could have brought back tv themes years ago, the company could have brought back all of the things that make a professional wrestling show more enjoyable years ago. They didn’t because they didn’t have to. Now, with so much riding on Smackdown being a smashing hit on FOX, they showed a sense of urgency.
It should not have taken this long. Honestly, how is that can afford to gobble up so much professional wrestling talent can’t simultaneously put on elite production values in 2019? How did titantrons go backward? How did they go from Jim Johnson to CFO$? How did the weekly shows get to the point where the company just decided that who would really care if Raw opened up without pyro, music and fun in favor of an awkward Michael Cole yelping about “The Big Dog” or “The Beast Slayer?” If you didn’t already watch the product, and you just happened to flip over to Raw and that is the first thing you saw and heard how could you not immediately tune out?
However, none of it matters now. It doesn’t matter because people forget. More importantly, people don’t care. They will see the new production sets, new music and new commentary teams next week and forget the company spent years and years saving money and mailing in their production because they could. Once I hear some Papa Roach on Monday night, get startled by some pyro and *not* hear Michael Cole to induce an unavoidable cringe, all is forgiven.
The company is trying again. They will try for maybe a year or so, things will settle down, ratings will stagnate, and the’ll start reeling it all back in because they can. Revenue is up, the networks are content, and the fans will watch anyway.
Chase Thomas is an independent sportswriter based out of Atlanta, Georgia. You can email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @chase__thomas. Thanks for reading and listening. I think you’re swell.