It has been rumored for some time that there are budget cuts coming. After promising shareholders the company would deliver bigger profits in 2017 than they had in 2016 the WWE is not anywhere close. That's a real problem. At this time last year, profits were sitting at around $30 million. To date in 2017, the rumor is that profits are under $10 million. What does that mean?
At this time last year, profits were sitting at around $30 million. To date in 2017, the rumor is that profits are under $10 million. What does that mean? That means, cutting back to hit their net goals. That means budgetary cuts that will directly affect what the WWE Universe is watching on WWE programming. That means job losses, programming changes and alterations to business practices.
If you've attended a WWE show recently, you'll notice there is no longer a pyro at most WWE events. It's a subtle change, but also big savings. You may have also noticed that a number of your favorite shows on the WWE Network are being canceled. Maybe you noticed the wrestlers being let go? Well, we have bad news. This is only the beginning.
There are major cutbacks going on all over WWE right now. The good news is, not everything will change. Despite some productions costing an arm and a leg, the WWE is banking those projects have long-term benefits. They're also committed to what some of these projects mean for the WWE's overall portfolio and brand. In some cases, the WWE is simply too stubborn to change certain aspects of how they operate.
The question becomes, what's going to change and what's going to stay the same? Here are 15 things we believe budget cuts will get fans worried about. Eight of these things the financial losses will directly affect. Seven of them may not change at all.
15 Change: WWE Network Show Cancellations
Despite them being among the more popular non-wrestling related programs on the WWE Network, the WWE has already shown they're willing to cancel shows like Unfiltered and Talking Smack. It only makes sense then that less popular shows are going to see the ax as well.
The WWE Network is now the primary source of revenue for the WWE and as such, the company will be focusing most of its attention on using stats versus costs to drive their programming. If the WWE deems a show too expensive to produce and not worth the return in terms of eyeballs, it won't last. The WWE Universe may see some major programming changes over the next few months. Some of those changes might be confusing and illogical. Getting rid of Talking Smack sure was.
14 Stay The Same: Part-Timers
Even if the WWE Universe isn't always behind it, the WWE goes to the well far more often with part-time wrestlers than they do commit to full-time guys they aren't sure can cut the mustard. There will always be a place for people like Sting, Goldberg, The Undertaker, Bret Hart, Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar because they have proven marketability and draw money.
Goldberg wouldn't have headlined WrestleMania in his ripe old age if the WWE didn't have numbers to back up the fact that he drew ratings. You can expect regardless of what cuts come, people who aren't ever going to be the flagship of the show will get paid well and show up infrequently. Long-term it makes more sense to build stars, but short-term, big names equal eyeballs.
13 Change: Future Endeavors
Every time the WWE does one of these budget cuts, dozens of talent gets the good ol' future endeavored treatment. Last year it was guys like Damien Sandow. This year it's already included names like Jack Swagger and Austin Aries. When the WWE decides to reduce the roster, you can bet names like Paige, Curt Hawkins, R-Truth, the Ascension, Bo Dallas, Titus O'Neil, Mark Henry, even Dolph Ziggler might be on the chopping block.
The WWE Universe is sure to be shocked by a couple of the names let go and even more surprised by a couple of the names sticking around. Some of those wrestlers will go on to places like GFW or ROH and do well. Others will fade away and leave the industry forever. It's the nature of the beast.
12 Stay The Same: Celebrity Cameos
It's pretty clear, most of the WWE Universe hate it when cameos from celebrities take center-stage, especially when those celebrities have no real relevancy to the wrestling industry. It's few and far between when a celeb who shows up actually knows the product. Still, the WWE pulls out that trick far more often than they should.
Either the WWE wants to be known as a company that associates with celebrities from other industries or they've proven having those celebs on actually draws numbers to the show or other side projects. Whatever the case, you can expect more of the same. The Josh Duhamel's and Pee Wee Herman's of the world will always have a place in the WWE. Even if it doesn't translate to viewers for other WWE related ventures like their WWE Studios division.
11 Change: Limit New Recruits
Despite the popularity of NXT, the division isn't profitable for the WWE. That part of the company runs house shows and live events to often sparse audiences and the company is constantly bringing in potential talents and training what they hope is the next John Cena or Steve Austin. You can expect with the budget cuts that the WWE and NXT will drastically reduce the number of new recruits they bring in.
In fact, there will likely be a number of casualties with the existing crop of trainees at the Performance Center. Right now the place houses more than 35 wrestlers trying to make their way onto NXT and that's simply too many to make sense for financial reasons. NXT won't going anywhere, but you can bet the sheer amount of trainees will be reduced to only those with a better-than-average chance of making it.
10 Stay The Same: Terrible Writing
Something made very clear by the WWE is their desire to have a number of writers on staff, many of whom do not have a background in the wrestling industry. The WWE often has enough writers staffed that they can individually pair off a wrestler with a writer to work on that particular wrestler's character. Some of the worst scripted promos have come out of these sessions and Vince McMahon believes it's vital to employ writers with different backgrounds to keep things fresh and more like "tv dramas" than wrestling shows.
This isn't 100 percent bad, but clearly, the WWE could eliminate a number of the writers from the crew. They probably won't Instead, agents (many of whom were prior wrestlers) will be released. The terrible writing will continue and wrestling purists won't get what they want.
9 Change: Announce Teams Affected
There are going to be some casualties outside of just wrestling talents. The announcers in the WWE are never safe when budget cuts come calling. While guys like Josh Matthews may have been in the doghouse anyway, his exit was somewhat surprising. This year, his replacement, Renee Young is all of a sudden without much to do.
She's a huge talent and it would be a massive loss if the WWE let her go, but she has offers from networks like Fox and ESPN and if the WWE can't find work for her that seems personally gratifying, she'll probably bail. Fans may also see the departure of names like Jerry Lawler and Lita. If the WWE is moving shows like Talking Smack they're removing jobs for a number of employees.
8 Stay The Same: No Broken Matt Hardy
This may not matter now because it looks like Matt Hardy might be "Woken" instead of "Broken" but even if the WWE felt that the "Broken" gimmick would sell better, they'd never pay for it. Especially now that they're trying to cut back instead of spend more.
Anthem Sports and GFW is not about to give up the property rights to that brand and the WWE doesn't like promoting something they don't own. You can guarantee these budget cuts mean the WWE Universe will never see "Broken" Matt Hardy. They'll instead get a tweaked version of the character if they choose to change Matt at all. While the WWE is finding ways to eliminate costs, they'll be hitting "DELETE" on paying anyone for the rights to that idea. The same goes for The Bullet Club.
7 Change: 205 Live Completely Overhauled
One thing is crystal clear when it comes to 205 Live. No one cares. It houses some of the most talented wrestlers in the WWE, but because the show is taped live, immediately following SmackDown Live, the audience is completely disinterested and often absent from the action. You've already seen subtle changes in the way the WWE has eliminated the purple ropes. What at one time the company wanted to make feel fresh, 205 Live is now just another struggling show like Superstars or Main Event.
There are rumors that 205 Live will be headed to Full Sail University where they shoot NXT. That will give the show that small arena feel where the audience is always a character and cut costs dramatically. It just makes business sense.
6 Stay The Same: WrestleMania Spectacle
The WWE understands WrestleMania is their grand spectacle. The company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars, (millions even) to put the show on. The event houses the biggest and completely original stages, takes place in huge outdoor stadiums, uses tons of pyro and lighting, hosts events and brings in celebrities for appearances, and pays big money to musical acts or one-off opponents to draw viewers. The WWE spares no expense. Don't expect that to change.
Vince McMahon wants WrestleMania to one day be bigger than the SuperBowl. He'll never achieve that dream if he doesn't put everything into it and continue pumping resources in to making it the biggest show he can. If that means spending more while everything else gets a little less of the pie, he'll probably do it.
5 Change: WWE Network Tournaments
Tournaments on the WWE Network, like the UK and Cruiserweight tourney may be limited. In fact, if the Mae Young Classic doesn't draw a large audience for the Network, you can almost bet that the company is going to do away with them.
The fans seem to love these shows. It introduces the WWE Universe to wrestlers they may otherwise never has seen wrestle. It's also a huge opportunity for the talent who can use this exposure to catapult their careers or gain employment in the WWE. But, they also cost a lot to produce. With the UK tourney, for example, there were travel fees and talent costs, production and event costs and more. None of it makes sense if the eyes aren't there to watch. The Mae Young Classic may be a real tell as to which way this goes in the future.
4 Stay The Same: Women's Division Not A Priority
While the Women's Revolution is a serious thing and the Women's Division is far better off than it was even two years ago, it's not a priority for the WWE and it will always be an afterthought. You can tell simply by the way the company books the story lines and matches that the WWE Universe sees week in and week out.
The WWE takes little time to build up serious feuds and rivalries and they shove the women onto the television in tag matches that do little to showcase what these new women of the WWE can actually do. What the WWE needs to consider, if they're making budget cuts anyways, is cutting the contracts of the women who simply can't wrestle. From there, focus on half a dozen real talents and give them stories they can sink their teeth into.
3 Change: No More Movies
There aren't many people who thought most the movies WWE Studios were making were any good anyway, but over the past ten years, that division of the company has lost money and was being hemorrhaged by other areas of the WWE. Operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) was a negative $48.6 million over the last decade and that number seems to keep dropping.
Because Vince McMahon desperately wants to not give up this division (it makes the WWE an entertainment brand over a wrestling brand) he may at first just cut back on a number of films being produced. Or, he may cut costs while producing the films. But if the WWE doesn't start making some money with a film that actually turns out to be somewhat of a blockbuster, the division could be on its last legs.
2 Stay The Same: Force Feeding Agendas
No matter who gets cut or what money gets saved, one thing will never change. The WWE and Vince McMahon will determine, long before the WWE Universe gets a chance to chime in, which WWE Superstars are going to be their chosen ones and which aren't. Even if the audience rejects a wrestler and even if the fans spend most of their money on a talent of their choosing, the WWE will shove down our collective throats wrestlers they deem the next generation.
If fans think for a second that the WWE will tread more carefully to ensure they're listening more to their audience in an effort to make more revenue, they are dead wrong. Vince will like who Vince likes and we'll be forced to watch them. That will never change until Vince is no longer running the show.
1 Change: Ads on the WWE Network
While this might not be a budget cut, it will be a new way for the WWE to make money while not increasing their costs. That's an important part of this equation. The only thing they risk is annoying subscribers who may discontinue their use of the WWE Network based on those annoying little ads that pop up before every show. It's a smart bet that most won't leave.
If the WWE doesn't post ads in the midst of broadcasts, it shouldn't make a big difference. Users are already used to seeing ads for WWE related shows and products. To sell spots to sponsors is not the end of the world. Every form of media does it. YouTube now has ads before almost every video. People just got used to it. Users of the WWE Network will too.