The WWE strategically plans just about every facet of the world they’ve created. Vince McMahon and company make sure to market the WWE through a very specific plan. They make sure to use specific marketing plans and set up a strict routine of guidelines for all employees to follow. Wrestlers, broadcasters, backstage personnel and office employees all have to adhere to the message WWE wants to get out there. This often consists of both sides of the spectrum with the company wanting to talk about certain topics as much as humanly possible, but completely ignoring other aspects of the business.
Most of the talking points WWE wants to get out there portray the company in a positive light. They want to compete with every sport and form of entertainment rather than just get hit with the label of pro wrestling. WWE wants to compete with the NFL, Marvel and Disney rather than TNA, ROH and New Japan. The topics and facts WWE wants to stray away from could paint them in a negative light or make them look foolish so they will pretend it doesn’t exist. We’ll look at both sides of the coin with seven things WWE loves to discuss and eight things they strongly avoid.
15 Strongly Avoid: The Old NXT
NXT is currently one of the most valuable assets in the WWE. The touring developmental brand has created many stars for the company while selling out major arenas. NXT has already sold out the Barclays Center for the second consecutive SummerSlam weekend. Triple H’s vision has helped showcase the new core of stars for the company. However, the letters NXT didn’t always signify such optimism and hope.
WWE originally used the NXT brand as a competition show on ScyFy to follow the end of the ECW experiment. NXT featured rookies and new stars to WWE competing in American Gladiators/Price is Right style events for points in hopes of getting them over. The show was a nightmare and the stars to come from it all hated their experiences. WWE tries to avoid any confusion of mixing up the old embarrassing NXT with the current thriving brand. You’ll never hear the company talk about the days of reality show parody unless it’s someone like Daniel Bryan talking about how much he hated it in a career retrospective video.
14 Love To Discuss: Monday Night Wars
Remember the 90s? WWE sure does. The Monday Night Wars were the hottest time in the wrestling industry with WWE and WCW competing head to head every week. Both promotions would battle over ratings, PPV buy rates, free agent talents and, quite frankly, ego. This was the closest WWE ever came to getting run off the road by a competitor. Things turned around for Vince McMahon with Steve Austin and The Rock leading The Attitude Era.
WWE would dominate the war starting from mid-1998 and never looked back. Every metric of success showed WWE crush WCW and eventually put them out of business by outright buying the company from Turner. The fact that McMahon owns the history of WCW means WWE continuously talking about The Monday Night Wars and how WWE valiantly punched the bullies of Eric Bischoff, Ted Turner and Hulk Hogan in the mouths. The WWE Network still features new content discussing the company boasting about how they survived through adversity.
13 Strongly Avoid: Batista’s Acting Career
Wrestling fans enjoyed watching former WWE Superstar Batista become a massive star in the entertainment industry. His role as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy made him a household name leading to many more impressive gigs. Batista holds a grudge against WWE for booking him poorly during his last run that caused fans to turn against him. The company then made a huge mistake in not recognizing his future success as an actor.
On a recent MLW Podcast, Batista said he was open to returning in the summer of 2014 to work a match and promote the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. WWE management somehow thought the Marvel film would be a bust and ignored his requests. This is why you’ll rarely see WWE promote Batista’s upcoming movie projects despite his star power. Most associate The Animal with his WWE time but the company goes out of their way to pretend his booming acting career doesn’t exist.
12 Love to Discuss: The Rock’s Acting Career
Unlike Batista, WWE is proud of The Rock becoming one of the biggest names in all of entertainment. The Rock has to be considered a top ten celebrity in the world right now and it doesn’t surprise wrestling fans as he entertained audiences for years during The Attitude Era. The charisma and personality of The Rock was extraordinarily special. Vince McMahon’s business acumen was on display when he partnered for a credit in many of Rock’s early projects.
His acting career would grow dramatically through the years and he returned to the WWE family at the right time in 2011. Both his acting and wrestling brands hit a peak with great financial success in both fields. WWE tries to associate their name with The Rock’s success and hopes their brand recognition mooches off of his movie hits. The difference between the treatment of Batista and Rock is harsh but shows how important a tight knit relationship is for WWE to market you.
11 Strongly Avoid: HOF Credentials
The process of WWE selecting additions to the Hall of Fame is awfully confusing. On one hand, the all-time greats get inducted and celebrated for their accomplishments in the world of professional wrestling. Credible championship reigns, the ability to draw fans into the building and years of excellent matches all seem like the ideal formula for choosing who enters. It seemed accurate until people like The Godfather, Koko B. Ware and Bob Armstrong got inducted.
Let’s not even get into the celebrities like Drew Carey or Donald Trump being a part in their own wing. The inconsistencies in the talent selected for the honor is all over the place. There’s no true way to figure out what makes one a Hall of Famer aside from having a good relationship with the WWE. The company gives no insight into the credentials for a Hall of Fame Superstar and tries to ignore the logic behind it. Hopefully it changes in the near future but, until then, it’s a head scratcher.
10 Love To Discuss: Buzz Words
The annoying marketing strategy of WWE has led to various terms replacing common words in the lexicon of the company. Sadly, most of the terms are absolutely ridiculous. Instead of being referred to as wrestlers or the sport of wrestling, WWE demands the buzz words of Superstars and sports entertainment instead. The worst part is they go overboard, consistently using the terms as a way to condition the audience into accepting them.
Perhaps the most annoying buzz word of all as of late is the “WWE Universe.” The company doesn’t want to use normal words like fans or fan base. A term like the WWE Universe is meant to imply the promotion is bigger than any other alternative. They have an entire universe rather than just a typical fan base. WWE beats you over the head with the use of their buzz words, but it doesn’t even work. Most mainstream outlets still refer to it all as wrestling with wrestlers and fans.
9 Strongly Avoid: Terrible Creative Process
WWE doesn’t go in depth about their process of putting together on-screen product we watch every week. The company has gone from Vince McMahon and a writer or two booking the show to having a giant staff of writers. Every wrestler complains about having their words completely scripted with little to no input. Chris Jericho has bragged on his Talk is Jericho podcast about ripping up scripts and turning down ideas to get his way.
We never hear the company actually address how the writers are hired and why the talent is micromanaged. WWE has seen a lack of big stars develop in the past decade and the evolution of the creative time may be why. You can’t truly relate to a wrestler if you feel he’s reciting lines he rehearsed all day. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H do many interviews but always seem to duck this specific question as a sign of the company wanting to stay away from it.
8 Love To Discuss: WWE Network
The WWE Network has become the most important aspect in the company. Vince McMahon took a huge risk in ditching the traditional PPV plan for a monthly streaming service available at a moderate price. The approach to market the future of the company has led to the company plugging it constantly on every single show. You can’t blame them and it gives us all the best value for our dollar as fans, but it can become too repetitive.
Michael Cole, JBL and Byron Saxton typically engage in a hard sell before PPV events/live specials. They get creative with using cue cards and silly antics to convince new viewers to subscribe to the Network. Wrestlers even were at one point plugging the Network being only $9.99 during promos as a way to get the information out that will force fans to hear about it. The WWE Network will be around for years to come and the push will never go away. Get used to it and just remember you get to watch everything you love for fewer than ten bucks.
7 Strongly Avoid: TNA
WWE has changed their stance on discussing other promotions and have actually become quite progressive. Former stars getting signed have their past reputations discussed to help get them over. A.J. Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows get to have their Bullet Club days referenced every week on commentary with their New Japan accolades being named. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are having their long history in ROH and PWG used to put over their feud on WWE television.
One wrestling promotion that isn’t getting the love or respect from WWE is TNA. Unlike the other promotions around the world, WWE doesn’t reference anything to do with TNA and flat out refuses to. WWE doesn’t acknowledge Styles or Samoa Joe’s time in TNA but only New Japan and the independent wrestling promotions. The DVD and Network documentary projects of current stars look back at their past with footage and references from almost every promotion except TNA.
6 Love To Discuss: John Cena’s Charity Work
The greatest accomplishment in John Cena’s spectacular career has to be all of his charitable work behind the scenes. Cena has a staggering record for granting the most wishes to children with terminal illnesses. It is an honor to Cena that these brave kids want to meet him out of everyone in the world as their biggest wish and he tries to make time for as many as possible. WWE loves Cena’s commitment to the company and doing the work on their behalf.
While many wrestlers do their part in various charities, Cena's work is specifically highlighted on WWE television. The star power of Cena and his well-spoken demeanor make him the ideal spokesperson for the company. WWE makes sure you know about it with it basically becoming part of his identity at this point. The charity work of Cena is equally important to the merchandise he sells and the work he puts out in the ring.
5 Strongly Avoid: Fans Hatred Towards Roman Reigns
Anyone with the ability to hear clearly knows just how much a large percentage of the WWE fan base despises Roman Reigns. The most popular reason for the disdain towards him is WWE putting all of their faith in Reigns at the expense of other fan favorites. The favoritism shown towards Reigns put him on the wrong side of the fan perception and it led to fans naturally rejecting him. Reigns responded back to the fans harshly and that created a negative relationship.
WWE finally started to discuss the boos for Reigns following his WrestleMania 32 main event win. Unfortunately, they deflected the true reasoning and claimed it happens due to the fun of booing him. They tried to sell it with the intent that fans buy tickets to enjoy giving Reigns a hard time out of love. There is no love there. Fans just despise Reigns and WWE desperately wants to avoid that becoming the narrative.
4 Love To Discuss: Global Reach
The big talking point for the WWE at various events is the company becoming a global brand. While always practicing patriotism, WWE has grown their positioning in various countries all over the planet. The international talent is rising in numbers on the roster of WWE and NXT. Money is money in every form of currency and WWE wants it coming from all angles. They put over the reach with television deals and Network access in many different languages and countries.
There’s been a recent rise in the United Kingdom talent over the past few years thanks to WWE inspiring fans. The company has marketed towards the Japanese audience with Shinsuke Nakamura, Hideo Itami and The Bullet Club in hopes of expanding there. WWE has also tapped into the Indian market recently with hopes of bringing shows there soon. The company will continue to brag about being a global brand and for good reason.
3 Strongly Avoid: Wrestler Deaths
One of the saddest truths about the professional wrestling business is the percentage of young deaths from the industry as compared to just about every other field. WWE will honor the memories of deceased wrestlers within the week of the news. You’ll see the tweets expressing condolences and a video tribute to the life of the talent to have passed away. Following that, the company will try to distance themselves from any discussions about the death toll in wrestling rising.
The Benoit tragedy almost destroyed the WWE with the media aiming at the wrestling business and WWE has taken a more business approach in regards to talents passing away. They only choose to induct one deceased Hall of Famer per year in fear of damaging the mood of the night. Hopefully the future changes the percentages of young deaths in wrestling, but WWE will strongly avoid it until then.
2 Love To Discuss: Social Media
The biggest change in the WWE over the past decade has been their reliance on social media. WWE does extremely well on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Most of the major WWE stars have more followers than the top stars in the NFL and MLB. Live WWE shows typically dominate the trending topics over any other show or news competing against them. With other metrics showing a decline in WWE’s product, they love to discuss their thriving success on social media.
Ratings have gone downhill steadily over the past few years and WWE answers that with their rising numbers on social media. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon put a lot of work into social media trends and trying to stay ahead of the curve. WWE does a great job reaching their strong fan base all over the world through the power of the internet and they’ll continue to boast their social media power for a long time.
1 Strongly Avoids: Television Ratings
The change in culture has led to the WWE relying on social media success but ignoring ratings failures. Television is in a weird place with many young adults cutting the cord on cable and watching their content through online means. This opens up the WWE Network as a more valued commodity to that crowd and WWE is hoping it’s truly the way of the future. Raw and SmackDown ratings have dropped dramatically in the past couple of years because of the growing trend.
WWE tries to talk their way out of the record low ratings for their weekly product. Triple H frequently answers questions about the rating loss by talking about the other ways people watch the product through Hulu and YouTube. The numbers look terrible when you see ratings at the lowest it has consistently been in decades, but the WWE is working hard to avoid referencing it. Vince McMahon is definitely reacting with the brand split, hopefully adding excitement to the television product but WWE will never publicly address the ratings troubles or anything of the sort.