WWE has been in panic mode for a long time. Falling to new lows in ratings and seeing the tumbles reflected in stock prices has the otherwise successful company in panic mode.
Even raking in cash hand over fist from a Saudi Arabia partnership and a fall deal with FOX, WWE has to keep their ratings up above a certain point. In order to do that, they need to change things up. So what does WWE do? They play it safe – back to the tried and tested formula of focusing on Brock Lesnar.
However, there is one change here. Lesnar is doing something he hasn’t done in years. He’s showing personality. Rather than just hopping in place while Paul Heyman pontificates as best he can, Lesnar is embracing the meme of “Boombox Brock.”
Holding his recently won Money in the Bank case on his shoulder and even brandishing a makeshift hood, Lesnar effectively gained heat while giving fans what they wanted. It’s impressive to do both at the same time, yet there’s one problem – he still won’t be the long-term fix WWE needs.
WWE has a nasty habit of putting the spotlight on a select few and keeping it there – despite what the fans want. John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Brock Lesnar – those three men have been the only ones who have really been “the guy.” Sure, other people have held the world title, but they’ve never had the force of the entire company behind them.
Lesnar is the antithesis of what WWE needs. It needs a fresh face, a young talent, and a star with a passion for the business. Fans can detect when wrestlers are going through the motions, and Lesnar has been doing just that for well over a year. From holding the Universal Title hostage to stealing yet another spot at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, he’s the exact opposite of what the company needs.
His increased push also indicates the company is playing it safe. They may be doing it out of habit, but it may also show company owner Vince McMahon doesn’t really understand what his audience wants – or he doesn’t care.
WWE has also stuck to a formula that no star is bigger than the company itself. Not even any of the aforementioned stars, or Ronda Rousey, have been able to move the needle the way WWE wants. They have a need for big stars, and the need to keep them limited is hurting them in the long-term.
The increased competition from AEW should be putting WWE in panic mode. Many believed that the competition would make McMahon channel his old self, and cause him to revive his edgier approach. However, that hasn’t happened yet.
In all fairness, maybe AEW’s pay-per-view debut doesn’t rattle him as much as their fall TV debut will. Given that timeline falls in line perfectly with WWE’s debut on FOX, it seems they may have no choice but to step up their game or falter.