WWE has been criticized by its own fans for years but it usually doesn't receive much criticism from mainstream media outlets. That changed recently when Variety called out the promotion for its declining ratings as well as their creative process.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer discussed what he thinks WWE's reaction is to the scrutiny of their creative and leadership when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
"I bet they're surprised because this is the first time it's really ever happened to this level," stated Meltzer. "Wrestling fans have criticized the creative direction of the company forever but it's one of those things where the investment community has never really looked at it, maybe because they didn't really understand it all with the mentality that Vince knows wrestling like nobody knows any business. So therefore, it's something they wouldn't question but now people have kinda looked at it.
"I think a lot of it has to do with AEW not dropping at the same level as WWE. All of a sudden, it's wait a minute, why would WWE be dropping so much more in ratings compared to AEW in the same period? I think that's when all of a sudden people started looking at it and saying that maybe the Vince McMahon thing is not really what it is as far as that nobody else can do this and he's the genius of wrestling."
It's one thing for there to be criticisms levied against WWE but another for those to result in actual changes. Meltzer was asked by host Nick Hausman if we will actually see change within WWE after this story.
"At the end of the day it depends on the numbers. Their business numbers are great because of the television deal. Right now, this year and next year, it's probably not going to be the case," said Meltzer. "I think what it is, is that people are kinda getting a little ahead of the story and going, 'When 2022 comes and these numbers aren't turned around then it could mean a lower TV deal.' The international markets have already shown that that's a possibility that never happened before with WWE losing Sky deals."
He added that things through 2024 will probably be cool but in 2022 there could be a problem with stocks if the ratings don't rebound.
"If the ratings don't rebound then that would be when you really feel it because of the uncertainty of if they are gonna take a cut in the domestic deal. That changes everything – a cut in the domestic deal – as far as the value of the company," said Meltzer.
Right now during a pandemic is a tough time to make drastic changes to improve your product, but Meltzer discussed ways in which WWE can be doing better.
"The whole thing is about new young stars, that's what it is, and getting them over. The way they do their creative, it's very difficult to get anybody over and right now it's almost possible with the lack of fans," admitted Meltzer. "You don't get that organic thing where somebody new gets over. Right now, everyone in wrestling – until we've got fans back in the stands – I kinda consider this a holding pattern. We end up talking about ratings all the time but at the end of the day it's one of those things where what are you gonna do? Everything you need to do to make changes would reflect in crowds in the arena reacting better and we have no crowds in the arena. It's almost like everything in life where we're in a holding pattern for a while. It's not gonna be easy to turn around until it goes back to normal."
Dave Meltzer can be found on Twitter @davemeltzerWON. Dave's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.