IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: 1 Thought: You're Doing it Wrong!... Smackdown Live 3-26-13
By Al Laiman
Mar 26, 2013 - 10:49:06 PM
credit Tom Jenner
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IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: 1 Thought... Smackdown Live 3-26-13
A lot of people have asked me recently how I can explain that the WrestleMania build has been anything but stellar, and yet ratings are higher than ever. Why is it that the product seems to be completely phoned in, and yet the WWE is selling out arenas? Is it really that we, as the IWC Media, are that jaded that we can't enjoy things anymore? Is it really that we have just watched too much and have grown to hate what we see?
Or are they doing it wrong?
Yes, bringing back The Rock has been a success each of the past three WrestleManias. Yes, people will tune in to see the rematch of the fairly decent WrestleMania main event from last year. Yes, they will go crazy when that familiar music hits and the hero from days of old rips out a microphone like no one can and says "FINALLY, THE ROCK HAS COME BACK TO YOUR TELEVISION SCREENS!"
Here's the problem with Smackdown, and don't worry, I'm not really giving any spoilers here... The Rock was out first.
Yes, the reason that Hershey sold out for the first time since they held a Pay-Per-View there, which I attended, came on first. We got Main Event, Saturday Morning Slam, and then The Rock. Don't get me wrong, the reaction was massive, and the twenty minutes he was out there, it was great getting to see him live for the first time.
But do you know what I realized?
This is only a short-term solution.
Yes, all of those things that will make Vince McMahon and the roster money in the short-term are going to happen. But that extra attention and money is coming from a group of people who don't give a fuck about anything else on that show.
So what happened after The Rock came out? The crowd was DEAD. And I mean so dead that Daniel Bryan didn't even get a reaction. You know, the guy who consistently gets a major reaction everywhere he goes. Part of that may be attributed to it being the third time that night he came out, but barely anything else got much of anything either.
The entire rest of the skybox pulled out their cell phones. They were sharing Facebook photos. One of them was playing The Sims. They left an hour before the show ended. Many others in the building followed suit. This shows me two major problems.
A. The WWE has brought fans back to see The Rock, but haven't done a damn thing to sell them on the rest of the product.
B. The minute The Rock goes away, so will all this extra attention.
This is not sustainable. This is not good news, even if it does provide a short-term bump. The Rock is not always going to be able to come back. The Undertaker is 48-years-old. Triple H is a businessman. Stone Cold may have one match left in him, but he's not the draw he used to be. Hulk Hogan... Don't even get me started.
If the WWE keeps relying on The Rock to bring back this group of fans every year, they're eventually going to lose them forever. The Rock is not eternal, and he's never going to be a full-time wrestler again. He may go away again, and he may never wrestle again. What then?
The next Rock, the next Stone Cold, the next Undertaker... They need to start being made very soon, because this business plan is not long-term. John Cena does not have the drawing power that The Rock does. He's a great company man, and I respect the hell out of him, but even if he had shown up tonight, it wouldn't have kept those fans who only came to see The Rock there.
And may I say again, it was a TERRIBLE idea to open the show with the reason most of them came tonight. You don't open with Zeppelin and close with White Snake! You expect them to blow their load on The Rock, and then stick around for two hours to see the Justice League prepare for their match against The Shield by facing their own personal JOB Squad who they've each beaten a multitude of times? Not to mention, following up that by getting the better of the Shield with ease for the fifth time in a row?
I don't know who the next megastar is, but I sincerely hope for the sake of the business I love that they emerge soon. I thought CM Punk had a chance to be that guy, but then they disposed of him so they could get their short-term bump. I thought maybe Daniel Bryan had the chance to become the main event star we know he could be, but as much as I enjoy Hell No, they've relegated him to the tag team division. Maybe the reason that nobody can reach that upper echelon is because they're constantly playing second fiddle to the stars of yesteryear. John Cena is the closest thing they have, but he still is not the draw of casual fans that The Rock is. I'm going to address that in more detail in a column for which I've gotten a ton of responses, but for now, I just thought I'd share this insight.
When the sold-out crowd is leaving after the first segment of your show, that is NOT a good sign for long-lasting business customers. Figure it out.
DID SOMEONE ORDER A LARGE HAM?
Antonio Cesaro yodeling. Yes, that happened.
2012 - Daniel Bryan
1-7-13 - John Cena
1-14-13 - Dr. Shelby
1-21-13 - Anger Management
1-27-13 - Kofi Kingston
1-28-13 - Tensai
2-4-13 - Brad Maddox
2-11-13 - The Shield
2-18-13 - Damien Sandow
2-25-13 - Daniel Bryan
3-4-13 - Fandango
3-11-13 - Rhodes Scholars
3-18-13 - Rufus "Pancake" Patterson
3-25-13 - Mark Henry
3-26-13 - Antonio Cesaro
IN CASE YOU MISSED EPISODE #105