Every major North American sport is granted an offseason for its players. Many times an offseason is used as a time to recharge, and prepare mentally for the upcoming season. Though professional wrestlers are not considered “real” athletes by most sports fans, the men and women who participate in the art of wrestling train and compete like most athletes.
In truth the only difference between a wrestler and an NFL player, is that NFL players have a union to fall back on. The NFL Players Association is responsible for protecting the interests of their players; the WWE doesn’t have a union. This means that despite the physical nature of their profession, wrestlers never have a chance to take a break.
If the WWE formed a union tomorrow, one of the first things that the group would do is institute an offseason. For years this topic has been debated by fans, with both sides bringing up strong arguments for and against an offseason for the WWE. Today we will be dissecting these arguments, and taking a fair look at the pros and the cons of an offseason for wrestlers.
As always feel free to let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
8. For: Keeping The Roster Healthy
Let’s face it, the WWE roster became more depleted in the past year, than ever before. We saw stars like Seth Rollins, John Cena, Cesaro, Sasha Banks, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Neville, Luke Harper and Enzo all go down with significant injuries. The human body isn’t meant to be pushed so hard for such long periods of time, without any opportunity to recover; unfortunately this is the WWE way. If WWE would actually give their Superstars a period to recover from the severe physical toll that comes with falling down for a living, they could reduce injuries and potentially stretch careers.
Think about it this way, imagine twisting your ankle while doing a physical activity. A normal person would be reluctant to engage in a similar activity until the injury was healed; wrestlers are not normal people. Aside from their actual in-ring antics, they work out and do media appearances all day, leaving them no time to actually heal. A three month period could solve many of the current alignments in the WWE.
7. Against: Loss Of Money
Well this is the obvious one, and probably the reason that an offseason will never happen. There is no chance in hell (pun intended) that Vince McMahon is going to sacrifice over three months worth of ad revenue to have an offseason. According to the WWE’s website, the television portion of their brand accounted for just over $100 million of their total revenue. Assuming that their total revenue was distributed equally throughout the year, would mean that an offseason would cost the WWE about $25 million per year in television gains alone.
To put that number in perspective, WWE’s top six earners (who are performers) combined actually make $25.5 million annually, which is half of a million more than the proposed cut. Keep in mind that the number mentioned above only includes the salary of active performers, not the entire back end operation of WWE’s corporate offices. An offseason could prove to be fiscally irresponsible for a company that has so many different projects in the air at one time.
7. For: Time To Develop
If we have learned anything from WWE, it’s that forcing a wrestler down our throats will not create Superstars. On the contrary the act of over pushing a newbie in the world of wrestling often breeds contempt for the young star. Roman Reigns is the case and point for this example, as he was pushed into two separate WrestleMania main events, despite only being in the wrestling business for less than five years. To put that in perspective, Shawn Michaels, who is generally considered “Mr. Wrestlemania”, didn’t headline the event until he was a 12 year veteran of the business.
If given the opportunity to learn their craft properly, wrestlers could use the offseason to improve upon skills that they haven’t mastered yet. Now we have a trial by fire system, where green wrestlers are forced to be judged by a national audience on a weekly basis. Nothing will demoralize a rookie more than hearing 20,000 people chanting “You Can’t Wrestle”.
6. Against: Loss Of Interest
We can assume that the WWE may be able to get their creative juices flowing during an offseason, but what will that matter if no one is around to watch? The time suggested for the offseason would run parallel with a student’s summer vacation. This is important because as of today, students are WWE’s primary demographic. With the short attention span of kids today, it’s hard to predict whether or not they would stay interested in a show that has offseasons.
To that fact, kids don’t need to watch any of the major sports on television because they can go out and play them; this is not true in wrestling. Wrestling is in a unique situation where it is one of the few activities that isn’t encouraged to be practiced by children. The only way that the WWE’s target demo can actually stay invested in the wrestling product, is by consuming it in a weekly episodic format with no breaks.
6. For: Anticipation
The current highest rated show on cable television is The Walking Dead, and the reason for that is anticipation. Not only the anticipation that comes from waiting for a new episode, but the feeling that you get when you know it’s coming back after a long break. WWE could capitalize on this same process, by shutting down production for three months and using their talented audio visual staff to create teasers during the break. They could put these teasers up on their social media, primarily on YouTube to bridge the gap between “seasons”.
On the flip side of that coin, WWE could use the idea of a definite finale as a way to end storylines on cliffhangers to keep people talking during the break. Imagine the finale to WrestleMania 31 going the exact way it did, but there being no Raw the next night to think about things. Fans would have an entire offseason to think about the repercussions of WrestleMania.