Vince McMahon spoke about the decline in WWE TV ratings and live event attendance earlier today during the fourth quarter 2018 earnings call, giving partial blame to the recent string of injuries the company has dealt with.
The discussion began when Vince was asked about RAW Women's Champion Ronda Rousey possibly leaving the company. Vince had major praise for Rousey, adding that WWE's "Rondas will come and go" but the company will always work around those departures, as long as they know the dates.
The caller asked, "Ronda Rousey. Again Vince, I don't know if you're willing to... this is maybe a little controversial for you, but Ronda Rousey was an experiment. She'd built her brand on a different platform, she brought it with her to WWE. ... Let's say Ronda Rousey leaves WWE, does that damage the WWE franchise and does that make the experiment a worthy experiment, to bring people in that have built brands elsewhere, to WWE when they may in fact exit and hurt the WWE brand. I'm curious as to that experiment, and your learnings from this Ronda Rousey experiment."
Vince responded, "Again, we can bring people in from the outside to our environment. It can't be just a one-off type thing because our audience realizes that's not going to push the envelope as far as their enjoyment of what we do. Nonetheless, bringing Ronda in gave us more visibility in terms of the initiative of reaching more women. And when you do something like that it allows you to not just use Ronda's platform from a different niche to come into WWE, Ronda in of herself becomes a brand of WWE. It's a different Ronda than what you saw before, in terms of UFC and things of that nature. When you put talent, rub talent up against Ronda, Ronda can help us make talent, and she's doing just that. She knows how to do it, she's one of the brightest people we've ever done business with. And the fact that she's adapted to the WWE culture so fast, it really is truly an amazing salute to her as an athlete, and as a human being. So, the Rondas will come in and out, and when they do, as long as we know what those dates are, we plan around it."
Vince continued his response and brought up the injuries that have forced top plans to change. Vince indicated that they believed John Cena would be more involved this year, but those plans changed due to his Hollywood career.
"The unfortunate aspect of sometimes in our business, is that we... our performers are not cartoons. They get hurt. This year, leading up to where we are now, we've had an inornate number of injuries. And when you have injuries... you know, there's a whole bunch of them. Roman Reigns being the principle among them. And even John Cena, not an injury type thing but we thought we were going to have John be more of a part of our programming than we do. John, God bless him, is making more movies. And even John, I would think, would say, 'Geez, I thought I was going to spend more time with what I love to do,' which is WWE. So, he's been coming in and out, he's not really a part of out storyline. You lose John, you lose Roman Reigns. In addition to that, we've had injuries... Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, who is one of our top female performers, was injured. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Bray Wyatt, Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Braun Strowman, Dean Ambrose, Ember Moon, Samoa Joe, Akam from a new tag team, Jason Jordan, Fandango, Big Show, Seth Rollins. It's like we... you had all these injuries, which is really unusual for us, and they're characters. It's no different if you're writing a soap opera and all of a sudden your main character wasn't there. You're in the middle of production, what do you do? You very nimbly change the storyline, but it's not as good as the original one. Sometimes it is better because we're pretty good at it, but those are things that we're faced with, and one of the reasons why television ratings have dropped. And one of the reasons, obviously, from a live event standpoint, that's dropped too. Because if you don't have your favorites on television, obviously you can't see the at a live event either. We're wide open and Ronda's done an extraordinary job. There will be other individuals coming from different areas that will join us on a longterm basis, that will help us as well," Vince added.
You can read our full recap from today's call with Barrios, Co-President Michelle Wilson and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon at this link.