WWE made surprising roster cuts last month and as the company continues to grow, it should look at stopping that practice for perception’s sake.
WWE and Endeavor finished up a historic deal in September, and then something remarkable unhistorical happened: talent cuts. Only WWE can stop releases and cater to goodwill among fans. They can keep everyone on the roster employed and continue to make record profits. When the annual layoffs started, it was explained as budgetary issues. The promotion’s record profits confused many fans, but WWE is a business, and they were looking to make a sale. Since then, all sorts of logic have followed these “budgetary decisions.” Rationale includes a revamp of developmental and the acquisition of new talent. Each year, the profits have increased, the sales rumors would continue, and there is very little change on the rosters.
Now the sale is final, and WWE has no more excuses. Fans shouldn’t be expected to care about the corporate side. Likewise, WWE corporate can’t stop doing something for stakeholders and the brand to appease fans online. Their actions, though, can’t just make fiscal sense; they need a purpose for the product. WWE has put the same names on every show in the past year, is experiencing a revitalization of competition, and has some pretty big contracts coming up. To keep fans interested in their performances, WWE has to show some faith and keep their favorites employed. It is the best way to stay in their position in a changing wrestling industry.
The Replacement Levels Aren’t Even
WWE recently signed a major AEW star, Jade Cargill. The move will improve the Women’s division on Raw, Smackdown, or NXT while giving fans a new and very talented woman to watch each week. Her signing, though, comes off the news of roster cuts that will undoubtedly send some talent to AEW, Impact, and NJPW. It also coincides with Adam Copeland, formerly Edge, debuting in AEW.
New talent will always be an interesting story for fans to follow. In addition to angering some fans, layoffs allow all fans to see superstars in a new space with new opponents. The replacement level of new talent needs to be higher to justify the mass releases. If they had new and exciting acts coming in each week or semi-regularly over the year, then clearing space might make sense, even if some fans are upset. That has not been the case over the last few years when even nostalgia acts are starting to dry up. If WWE can stop releases and cater to goodwill among fans, they should, if for no other reason than to keep their unused talent from popping up elsewhere. At the same time, they can’t seem to sign anyone.
AEW is Getting Very Interesting
Adam Copeland is leading a sort of boom in AEW, bringing more eyes to the work that the promotion’s talent has already been doing. Other notable WWE alums, like Christian Cage, FTR, and Chris Jericho, are also putting in excellent work on Dynamite and Collision. Add in the rumors of Mercedes Mone joining their ranks, and Tony Khan has some fascinating pieces in play. WWE, in comparison, has been running with the same acts for over a year. The list pretty exclusively includes The Bloodline (and Jey Uso), Cody Rhodes, Judgment Day, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, and Seth Rollins. All three of WWE’s brands revolve around the workings of these acts. The Bloodline and Judgment Day, specifically, are feeling overexposed.
Without Roman Reigns, the Bloodline has lost some of its marquee credibility. Judgment Day essentially took that group’s place in Roman’s absence and has been inserted quite forcefully into stories all over WWE television. When compared to fresh and rotating talents, seeing the same acts on repeat will get old. As the wrestling industry grows and promotions outside of WWE continue to try new things, WWE has to try and keep pace. Keeping talents employed won’t just keep their fans happy; it gives WWE more opportunities to try new things and create engaging narratives up and down the card.
WWE Has Enough Space for Everyone
WWE, on an average week, has seven hours of television. That doesn’t include house shows each week or any network-specific content they occasionally produce. They have an active YouTube following and formalized a relationship with Twitch for live and exclusive content just this year. That adds up to a significant amount of confirmed content and the potential for even more if they choose. It represents so many possible viewing hours that any talk of needing a smaller roster is especially odd.
With so many different opportunities for showcasing talent in the ring or out of it, WWE needs a big roster. They are an international media company, the largest in the history of their chosen industry. Record profits each year show that the projects the promotion launches are ultimately working. WWE can stop releases and cater goodwill among fans by spreading superstars around. Maybe some wrestlers are predominantly utilized for house shows and as creators for YouTube channels like UpUpDownDown. They can start new live wrestling content on Twitch each month or use experienced stars like Dolph Ziggler for a surprise appearance and a lot of coaching. An organization like WWE has plenty of space for talented people if they choose to use it wisely.
To Stay Ahead, WWE Can Stop Releases to Cater Goodwill Among Fans
The relationship between promotions and fans is one of the most exciting aspects of wrestling. With new leadership as the result of the Endeavor deal comes a new opportunity to serve fans. The fans are the only reason a wrestling promotion can exist, but producing a media empire can’t be catered exclusively to a niche audience. The company will always fall short of the fan’s expectations to make money. However, with hours of content to fill and ample incentive to try new things, WWE can stop releases to cater to goodwill among fans while helping the bottom line. More talent means interesting stories to rotate in and out. Although WWE can’t always be the company fans would hope on this issue, it can. Keep the talent happy and paid, and the fans will appreciate it. Then, that talent can do their jobs, entertain millions, and make serious money.