WWE’s Midcard Hell

WWE’s Midcard Hell

Back in the day, being in WWE’s Midcard was just a test to see if a WWE Superstar is ready for a title push. It used to be obvious what direction a Superstar is heading in the company based on how they are performing in the ladder leading up to a title shot. That’s how the system used to be set up.

The current state of WWE’s midcard is a crapshoot. Superstars like Tye Dillinger, Baron Corbin, and Rusev seem to be perpetually going nowhere in the midcard. While other superstars are given a fast track or skip it all together like Jinder Mahal, AJ Styles, and the obvious next up Bobby Roode. The choice to propel a superstar can be because a Superstar’s talent and overness with the crowd is undeniable, such as with Styles and Roode. However, these same qualities can leave someone forever wandering the midcard like Zayn or Rusev.

How can WWE fix this?

Introduce and Maintain Strong Characters

Braun's hand raised standing over James Ellsworth

Strowman destroys James Ellsworth

Currently, WWE has a lot of excellent wrestlers. The current WWE rosters may be the best collection of pure wrestling ability WWE has assembled. However, this has lead to probably an era of less than stellar characters. And like it or not, character plays a huge part in how Superstars get out of the midcard.

Over the past year, Braun Strowman has exploded onto the Raw Main event scene. Before this major push, Braun was just a lackey to Bray Wyatt and wasn’t getting any character development. When Braun was finally able to cut promos well enough, and show who the Monster Among Men is, did he become a fan favorite? Yes, and this was accomplished through great backstage segments with Reigns, great in-ring monster work, and other antics that set him apart from the crowd.

If you look at the midcard now, it just seems to be guys who are good at wrestling. It’s hard to differentiate Dillinger from Aiden English when all their main card duties consist of quick matches and even faster promos. Even strong characters coming in get washed down like the Kanellis couple. Without a strong impression of who these wrestlers are, fans aren’t going to be clamoring to see them holding titles anytime soon.

No Natural Flow

The Maharaja

There’s no natural flow to the midcard in the current WWE landscape. Superstars get inconsistent motivations, pushes, and angles that hinder their character. For example, someone being never pushed, such as a Zayn or Cesaro. Or it could come in the manner of a superstar reaching the main event and then get buried back down to the midcard, ala Bray and Rusev.

Currently, there seems to be a tight bottleneck on the titles in WWE. Even after the superstar shakeup earlier in the year, the upper echelons on each Brand mostly stayed the same. Of recent times Jinder Mahal, of all Superstars, is the only undercard superstar to break into the title scene and not just be a put over the star. There’s been such a tight ceiling on the WWE main event that most guys who would be in the title picture have been paired off into tag teams.

WWE needs to restore a natural pipeline to the title picture. With the current bottleneck access to the main event, the once decent flow of WWE’s midcard is a thing of the past. I would love to see the King of the Ring return as a signpost for Superstar ascension. Anything at this point to show the progression of a Superstar into a title match, aside from a multi-man match win, would be a vast improvement to the system.


On top of things on screen being confusing, some storylines and superstars are either abandoned or go straight up missing.

Do you remember when Breezango’s office was left a mess, and Breezango was going to reveal who did the crime? Well, who was it? We as the audience will probably never know. Remember Curt Hawkins who they made a huge deal about coming to Smackdown? He’s jobbing somewhere. What about the recent Zayn and Mike Kanellis feud? That went on for two weeks and was then just left flat at the end with no payoff.

The Wyatt family’s break up at the beginning of the year was a hot angle. The fans were begging for Luke Harper to get a push, and he gets one match against Erik Rowan, and we haven’t seen either of them since. Dillinger was off TV for months, and it’s happened with Apollo Crews, The Ascension, American Alpha, and countless others. Writing either takes them into corners that go no where or they just get dropped from the scene, sacrifices to the midcard maw.

WWE needs to realized abandoning superstars kills them for a long time. A simple repackaging can keep their heat up, just look at the Miztourage. If done correctly, this can even be used as a package to catapult a Superstar to the main event scene, think what Evolution did for Randy Orton and Batista. The point is, it’s better to be a lackey on screen, then to be dropped altogether and have nothing to do, ever.

What to do?

WWE's Midcard in one match

WWE’s Midcard in a battle royal

Some fans have argued that it could be WWE just has too many superstars, and this jumbled midcard is just the result of this. There’s some merit to that, and the brand extensions have only seemed to exacerbate the problem somehow. Making NXT a third branch could free up some space, but then that pushes out their midcard. The problem would only become worse from there as then how do you showcase the new talent properly?

I believe that WWE can turn this sandpit of a midcard into something if they just tightened up their writing and realized the pitfalls they create for some of these guys. In an era where characters are weaker than before, it takes a real motivation for the fans to get behind someone. But if WWE continues to abandon, given no character, and bottle-necked the midcard from title opportunities the Hell will just continue.

As always, like, leave a comment or argue with me below. Then make sure to subscribe to our channels @Baselinetimes and @TheHoWPod on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor/Heels of Wrestling

@MXMurden on Twitter and Instagram



Shinsuke and The Club in WWE: A Retrospective

Has WWE Done a Good Job with the Signees from New Japan?

Last year, after Wrestle Kingdom 10, it was announced that AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson would be leaving the New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion and heading off to WWE. The superstars would eventually be phased out of the promotion, each in their distinct way.

AJ Styles debuted as the third entrant in the 2016 Royal Rumble match. Shinsuke would make his debut on NXT later that year in a classic against Sami Zayn. Gallows and Anderson debuted on Raw later that year jumping The Usos after a match. So how have their journeys progressed since then? Let’s look at a quick review of each and see where WWE can move forward with these superstars.

AJ Styles

Styles winning the US title in Madison Square Garden

AJ Styles current WWE Us Champion

Styles had arguably the best first year of anyone in a while to debut in the WWE. Debuting at number 3 in the Royal Rumble, it didn’t take long for Styles to catapult to the title scene in WWE and have strong runs with his belts. AJ to date has 1 WWE Championship title reign and 2 US Title reigns, 1 being his current one. Styles has racked up classic matches with Roman Reigns, John Cena, Chris Jericho and more. He’s also participated in important multi-man matches such as the Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank and the Royal Rumble. 

AJ Styles is incredibly over with the fans. His incredible mic word and elite level in-ring abilities, have him in a special class in the WWE. No matter what he does, he just gets cheered. His current US title run has him as the face against Baron Corbin, so hopefully WWE has realized this.

Hopefully, this feud doesn’t drag out long, and I don’t see AJ dropping the belt to Corbin. I’d love to see to AJ drop the belt to someone like Rusev at the Royal Rumble to free him up for a WWE Title match at Wrestlemania against someone else on this list. AJ was the best WWE Champion since the brand split, and having him back in that main event scene is crucial, especially after this cycle with Jinder is over.

Aside from some weird reason that Styles and Kevin Owens can’t have an average match, Styles has had great feuds this year. His debut promos against Cena were fantastic with their meta references, and by giving Styles that freedom, WWE showed a lot of trust in their future mega star. There’s not much WWE could have improved on in his run. I just hope to see the WWE Championship back to him soon.

Grade: A


Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

The Good Brothers

Gallows and Anderson are former Raw Tag Team Champions…and their run was short and pretty much unmemorable. The current situation for these two is a shame because these nerd bashers are great in the ring and on the mic. It could be due to a crowded Raw team division, but I can’t buy that when the two teams at the top weren’t even together when The Club debuted.

The Good Brothers debuted as the backup to Styles against Cena and his burial powers. They appeared like they would be booked strong, but then The Club lost to Cena, Enzo, and Cass. It’s been rocky waters ever since for the duo. For months it appeared like they were meant to do nothing but lose to The New Day to extend their title run. Then after some wacky matches, they were finally able to win the Titles in a pre-show match with two referees. It’s as great as it sounds.

The Balor club needs to reunite and just become a dominant stable. If WWE wants to tease a shield reunion, they’ll need a dominant force to go against and what better than Balor Club? The Shield vs. Balor Club sells itself and could fill a good few PPV’s with fantastic matches. Currently, Gallows and Anderson may be creeping back into the title picture with Cesaro and Sheamus heading out. WWE may also be leading them into another losing feud with the newly reunited Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. This booking would make them yet another fodder for the more over tag team. I just hope the future looks better for these two.

Grade: D

Shinsuke Nakamura

Shinsuke Nakamura

The King of Strong Style

I’d like to start off by saying both of his nicknames WWE have given him are horrible. The Artist and The Rock Star? Nah, no thanks. The once King of Strong Style has appeared to be a mere mortal in WWE.

Shinsuke amazed the WWE crowd with a classic match against Sami Zayn in his debut. A bonified Match of the year Candidate out the gate showed the WWE Universe what Shinsuke could do. The question was how much of Shinsuke’s style would translate to the WWE?

In NXT Shinsuke put on spectacular matches with Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Zayn, and Owens. These are all guys who came up on the independent scene and are used to wrestling outside of the WWE style. You could tell their styles meshed well together and brought out the best in one another. Shinsuke was able to capture the NXT title twice during his tenure in the brand.

However, since coming to the main roster, Shinsuke has fallen flat in most of his bouts. His feud with Corbin was annoying, and his debut program with Ziggler was nothing to write home about. Recently his match with Randy Orton on Smackdown showed that he was ready for a title run. Maybe now that he’s got another title shot, we’ll see a rejuvenized Shinsuke? I’m just looking forward to his horizon of matches with the likes of Styles, Reigns, and more. After a dull beginning on the main roster, it can only go up for Shinsuke. Due to his natural charisma and talent, Shinsuke has the most upside potential on this list if WWE can finally awaken the beast he is.

Grade: NXT: A / Main Roster: D

Final Thoughts

WWE hasn’t exactly translated their huge signs into major players in WWE. Aj Styles has received the best booking of the group. The lack of sustained title runs and secure booking on the main roster has kept the rest of these guys from actually living up to where the fans know they could be. We could just be in a lull for the group as a whole.  And maybe WWE surprises us with a Balor Club reunion soon.


Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor/The Heels of Wrestling

Follow @TheHoWPod and @MXMurden on Twitter and Instagram


“The Big Dog” or “Super Cena?”

Roman Reigns vs. John Cena

Whose yard is it now?

“I can do this part time, better than you could ever do it full time.” Just like that, the two most polarizing superstars in WWE history, Roman Reigns, and John Cena became the center of attention in the wrestling world.

Their showdown, at this year’s No Mercy, will no doubt be hyped beyond belief, but who will ultimately come out on top? What’s the end goal for WWE? Is this their idea of a dream match, or is Cena just the latest superstar chosen to be sacrificed at the altar of Roman Reigns? What’s going to happen if Reigns wins and absolutely nothing changes?

Will Vince McMahon feed one of his most successful characters ever to a guy who just can’t get over with the fans? Or will “The Franchise” take down the most hated wrestler on the planet today, and regain the support of hardcore wrestling fans all over the world? The fact that all these questions exist make it one of the most compelling feuds WWE will produce this year. For the first time in a long time, I’m interested in John Cena, and Roman Reigns. Well done WWE, you’ve got my attention.

If Roman wins.

Will The Big Dog spear another victim?

If WWE puts Roman over in this match, it means they officially view him as their top guy, bar none. It means the days of Cena showing up with his “mythical golden shovel” are truly behind us. It means that no matter how much we boo and complain, Roman isn’t going anywhere. It would symbolize WWE taking a huge crap on its audience. I hate always to be “that guy,” but WE don’t like Roman Reigns. WE don’t accept Roman Reigns, and the only thing that will ever change that is the one thing WWE has already proven they won’t do, turn him heel. WWE executives act as if there’s just some golden feud out there that will change everyone’s opinion of Roman.

I get their logic, have Roman go up against the most hated heel in the company, and make the audience rally behind him in the process. The problem is, there’s no wrestler on the roster that hardcore wrestling fans hate more than Roman Reigns, and he can’t wrestle himself. Ultimately, Roman is in a “lose, lose” situation. If he beats Cena, then the marks (myself included) will just turn their noses at him and say “see, even Cena isn’t safe from Roman.” If he loses to Cena, it’ll make the fans happy, but it’ll also show that the powers that be might be starting to sour on their chosen one. Roman is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t. He won’t get any sympathy from me though; I hate Roman Reigns…”Believe That!”

If Cena wins.

Or will we see the return of Big Match John?

If “Super Cena” shows up at No Mercy, and picks up a “W” over Roman Reigns, it can mean one of two things. First, it could mean that WWE has soured on Reigns so much that they had no other option but to go back to the well again. However, it couldn’t also be another weak attempt at getting Reigns over. WWE could see a loss to Cena as the last piece to the Reigns puzzle. They could theorize that losing to Cena might make fans rally behind Roman. I’d say the latter isn’t very likely, but  WWE has attempted dumber things to get Roman over before (retiring Undertaker).

As a hardcore wrestling fan, this feud conjures up mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m glad someone is finally cutting Roman Reigns down to size. On the contrary, I hate that it’s the fucking “Golden Boy” John Cena doing it. Seeing as how WWE has refused to turn Cena heel for over a decade now, this is the closest he’ll ever get at being a fan favorite again. Cena has nothing to gain from beating Reigns at No Mercy. It won’t bring him that’s elusive 17th World Title reign; it won’t get him anymore over than he already is, and it won’t rid the WWE Universe of Roman Reigns. Don’t expect “Big Match John” to get his hand raised at No Mercy. However, do expect him to carry the entire build up to the match.

This match belongs on a WrestleMania card. We still might see it at WrestleMania next year, but it won’t be for the first time so that it won’t feel as special. Regardless of that, we’re going to see the top star of his era, John Cena, go up against what WWE is hoping will be their next top star, Roman Reigns, in a match that none of us thought we wanted to see. That’s something pro wrestling can do better than any other sport, create a classic moment out of thin air. Whether you’re a member of the “Cenation,” a fan of the “Roman Empire,” or just a guy who hated Cena, and hates Reigns (like me), odds are you’re going to be glued to the screen when this match starts.

No Mercy will air Sunday, September 24th 8 pm EST, Live on the WWE Network.

Wesly Avendano

Baseline Times

A Fall From Grace with Dustin Briggs

Dustin Briggs is back and he’s got a match under his belt this time. We check in with Dustin to see how his career is trajecting. Dustin also joins us in breaking down the current stte of WWE wrestling. Like, comment, and subscribe.

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Heels of Wrestling Episode 11: SummerSlam 2017 Weekend

Episode 11: SummerSlam 2017 Weekend

The Heels are back and we’re giving our review of WWE’s big SummerSlam PPV weekend that included NXT: Takeover Brooklyn and SummerSlam. We pick our favorite matches and performances. Make sure to like and subscribe for more Heelish content.

Follow @TheHowPod on Instagram and Twitter

Roman Reigns Has to Destroy John Cena

Roman Reigns has to destroy John Cena in their upcoming match. It can be a No DQ match, it can be a Last Man Standing match, hell it can be a Hell in a Cell, but at the end, Roman Reigns has to have his hand raised, and he has to be a Heel.

On Monday night Raw, we saw Roman Reigns and John Cena team up to defeat The Miz and Samoa Joe to start off John Cena’s tour on Raw. WWE’s two top Faces of the company are together again on one brand. Vince McMahon has been trying to pass the proverbial torch of WWE from Cena to Reigns, but so far it hasn’t worked. Because WWE has gone about it wrong this whole time. Roman Reigns needs to be bad, this needs to be his yard, and he needs to take Cena’s head off to claim it. This is now WWE’s perfect opportunity to turn Roman Reigns into a heel.

Every time Roman cuts a promo, it’s obviously not him. The cockiness of beating The Undertaker. The boos and jeers of the fans. A track record of ruining everything. When we think about it…

Roman Reigns is already a Heel

It’s time for WWE to face facts. They’ve ironically created the biggest Heel in the business, and they’re too reluctant to pull the trigger on him. Let’s run down a list of some of the horrible things WWE creative have had Reigns do in just this year:

    • Roman Reigns tried to murder a man with an ambulance.

What we have brewing here is a perfect storm of how to turn Roman Reigns into the top heel of the company. Reigns is in a spot we haven’t seen him in since he was busted for violating the wellness policy in 2015. The spotlight isn’t necessarily on him right now as Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman are the leads of the title picture going into No Mercy.

Why Now?

The idea of turning Reigns or Cena heel has been tossed around ad infinitum on wrestling boards for the past few years. The void as the top Heel on WWE programing has been noticeable for quite some time. And much of it is to do with WWE’s booking of top Heels.

Since the breaking of the Authority, it seems as if every Heel has been booked as cowardly or needing help to get their title reign over. From KO and Jericho being best friends to Jinder Mahal having the Singh brothers in his corner, no Heel has been able to do it alone in recent memory.

The situation can all change with Roman turning Heel. We’ve seen him do heel tactics in matches. Brutal attack with chairs, powerbombs through tables, vicious spears, you name it he’s done it. However, that Superman punch does need to go, no Heel would do that. (No one should do a Superman punch anyway.)

But I digress, Roman can be believable as a solo Heel champion. A sort of reverse-Ultimate Warrior type. Except with Roman, we have someone who has the ability to do lengthy work rate matches. This also would open up the opportunity for a tweener like Samoa Joe or Braun to go full on in a character choice as well. There shouldn’t be these many tweeners at the top of the billing. Not for the sake of story and fan engagement.

Heel Roman would also give us a nice contrast with the reuniting of the Shield. I always thought Roman should have been the one in the Shield to turn heel, this could be a chance to retell angles from that period with a new lineup. Do the Shield turn heel with Roman? Do they maybe try to talk sense into him? All these stories could line up, drawing from past instances, and fuel some interesting story lines heading forward.

Heels Have and always will Rule Wrestling

Every real star needs a turn as an in-ring Heel. It’s too late for John Cena, but factors outside of the ring can be attributed to his lack of Heel. Maybe it was because of the PG era and Vince needing a Stallworth for the company? I don’t know. But right now, there is a bevy of talent on the roster, and all of them feel like tweeners or faces. We need a Heel revolution.

John Cena has been the Face that runs the place for quite some time. However, we need a Heel to take over. The Roman Empire needs to ride a wave of destruction across the WWE we haven’t seen in quite some time. Plus a Heel change has definitely never helped a struggling, over pushed baby face before.

And a Heel turn definitely hasn’t taken someone to heights unknown in wrestling:

So what’s up WWE? Vince needs to stop flirting with us and give us what we need, a new top Heel. And that Heel is Roman Reigns.
Markus X. Murden
Follow Markus on Twitter and Instagram @MXMurden

Heels of Wrestling Episode 10: SummerSlam 2017 Go-Home Shows

Episode 10: SummerSlam 2017 Go-Home Shows

SummerSlam 2017 was a show for the ages, of what WWE needed not to do. Listen in as we break down the week that was before the PPV event of the summer went down.

SummerSlam Heat: Rumors and Possibilities

SummerSlam 2017 Final Ad Poster


SummerSlam Heat

Tonight is the biggest night of wrestling for the summer, WWE’s SummerSlam 2017! Vince McMahon’s annual summer showcase this year is headlined by the Fatal 4 Way match between Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, and Samoa Joe for the title of WWE Universal Champion. While we hope the in-ring action to be the best, some of the storylines heading into SummerSlam have cooled off, let’s take a look at some of the still blazing ones. Rumors aplenty ahead.

Is Undertaker going to be at SummerSlam?

Underake on a Plane (Snapchatted)

(c) @MR_GQ_Cantu on twitter

Undertaker was spotted on a flight to NY this Friday. This could have potentially huge ramifications for the Universal title match. Undertaker over the past couple of years had intense feuds with Roman and Brock and he could be coming to interfere in the title picture. Particularly with the former as he was the one who put him to rest in his own yard. With the main event being a no-DQ match, Undertaker’s presence could swing into a surprise win for the two newest arrivals on the Raw title scene, Braun, and Joe.

A Full Shield Reunion

Dean and Seth Fistbump on Raw

(c) WWE

This last Raw, we were witness to the reunion of 2/3 of The Shield. Dean and Seth have joined forces to face Sheamus and Cesaro, The Bar. This comes after the prior month being a seesaw relationship between Dean and Seth. The only one missing from the reunion is Roman. With Wyatt and Balor both on Raw, there is the potential for two other factions to form and face the Shield. Could a Shield reunion mean we see the return of the Wyatt Family or hopefully the long awaited debut of the Balor Club on Raw?

Only tonight will tell. The Shield may also prove vital to making sure Roman wins the title tonight. Dean has his history with Brock and Seth has feuded with Joe prior to this. We may be seeing The Shield put Strowman through an announce table tonight. I can’t say I’m not looking forward to this possibility.

Baron Corbin Failed Cash-in

Baron handing Ref MITB Briefcase

(c) WWE.com

This past Tuesday, we saw Baron Corbin fail to cash in on his WWE Money in the Bank contract. He made the suspicious choice of waiting for his opponents to get up to cash in his opportunity. He then did it in front of Cena, a man infamous for failed cash-in attempts. Silly Baron. Money in the Bank cash-ins are usually saved for pay-per-view action, but Baron decided to fumble his all the way to failure. This, of course, nixes the change we see a cash-in after the Jinder Mahal and Shinsuke Nakamura WWE Championship match.

Will this result in a more ruthless Baron going forward? Cena hasn’t won at a SummerSlam show since the Nexus debacle, and Baron may be a lucky recipient of that trend. On the other hand, Baron hasn’t been the nicest on Twitter lately. Picking fights with legends and journalists alike. We all know Vince loves Corbin for his size and not so much his intangibles. SummerSlam against Super Cena could be either a death knell or a career starter for Baron. We’ll have to tune into tonight to see.

Brock Leaving to fight Jon ‘Bones’ Jones

Brock Lesnar (Left), Jon Jones (Right)

(c) UFC

Last, but not least, Brock losing tonight means the Beast Incarnate will be leaving the WWE right after SummerSlam. There’s already smack talking going between the two fighters’ camps and hype is starting to build. The UFC and WWE have cross-promoted before, but this might be their biggest cross-promotional fight. Bones is a UFC legend with a huge following and has just come off a strong win against Daniel Cormier. Bones is also no stranger to mic work and would be fantastic at holding up his end.

Vince is never hesitant to drum up huge spectacles like this and having Brock not in the WWE ring to promote his end of the fight would mean huge dollars lost for the company. Brock has already been featured in advertisements and promotions for live events and a September PPV appearance. Could this all be a ruse? WWE has teased Brock before and he’s left. Should Brock lose tonight, this picture should become even more clear and means huge dollar signs swinging one way or another.

Tonight’s SummerSlam card is filled with matches that should not disappoint. Let’s hope the ball isn’t dropped with these angles going into SummerSlam.
Markus X. Murden


WWE Has Failed Bayley and it’s Scary

Bayley in the ring with an arm sling w/ ring announcer


Bayley, the queen of hugs, beloved NXT Women’s champion, and owner of one of the brightest gimmicks ever is failing as a Face on the main roster of WWE. She was supremely over in NXT and her debut on the main roster was highly anticipated, with her arriving at a massive pop. So how did WWE fumble with her and is it indicative of a larger problem?

At the beginning of the year, Bayley was still a favorite in fans eyes. She was in a Women’s Title triangle feud with Charlotte Flair and Sahsa Banks. Even though Sasha and Charlotte’s matches were red hot, Bayley wasn’t far behind the two. The three marquee women on Raw’s roster were developing good story lines and having fun matches. Then on February 13, 2017, Bayley won the Raw’s women championship.WWE played on her being the young girl with a dream and it hit a crescendo beautifully.

The Downfall of Bayley

Then the Superstar shakeup happened, and the Raw’s women division collapsed with Bayley seemingly at the center of it. Bayley’s character has bounced around from varying levels of innocence, all going into story lines that go nowhere. Remember that Cory Graves segment? It still scares me that WWE was willing to go with a story line that one of their superstars was so naively innocent to not have kissed a boy in her life. Is that how you get a wrestler over?

Thankfully that story line has seemingly been shut down and hopefully won’t resurface. However, I don’t know if WWE can do better by her. Her previous feud with current champion Bliss ended with Bayley looking extremely weak. Despite challenging Alexa to the match, she didn’t want to “hurt” her opponent. This takes baby facing to the next level.

Worst of all, Bayley had to suffer through the worst promo segment ever, a “This is Your Life” segment hosted by Alexa Bliss. The segment saw Bliss run down her past, exposing her as a nerd, naively innocent, and a betrayer of her friend for wrestling. Bliss decimated Bayley, making her look weak. WWE mistakenly thinks the audience wants to root for a loser. That’s not the case. We want to root for an underdog, and ultimately an underdog can’t keep coming up short all the time.

This leads us to the run up to Summer Slam. After burying Bayley’s character, she scores a couple of quick wins and is back in the title match for Summer Slam. The booking makes no logical sense at all. Why destroy her one month and then have her headline for a PPV in the next? Because WWE has lost real story line investment.

WWE should have stuck to a design of an ultra baby face who just wanted to win and please her fans. She would be over to the moon, think an antithesis to Roman Reigns even. With Charlotte as the heel, Sasha as a tweener, and Bayley as a face, the Raw’s women division would have a solid foundation. Instead, Bayley’s character has been through the ringer and is worse off for it. Bayley was recently booed on this week’s Raw. Now it was possibly the fans booing at WWE’s booking of Bayley, but accepting that narrative isn’t helpful. 90% of what a wrestler becomes is because of their booking and how well it protects their character. Had Alexa Bliss been given an up and down heel run she would probably be with the rest of the Raw’ women division. Aimless.

I’m not sure if Bayley’s injury going into SS is a work or a shoot. If it’s real I hope she has a swift recovery, and hope she comes back better. I hope she’s not just stuck back in another program with Nia Jax or hoping for a rematch with Bliss. I believe WWE should give her a proper comeback tour. Showcase her with some of the better veterans like Emma and Mickie James to remind the fans why they loved her in the first place. Give her character time to grow naturally, WWE, and they’ll have an absolute gem. The fans are already waiting with open arms.




WWE Financial Review

Recently, WWE’s  2017 Q2 Financial Report was released. While it would seem that this quarter was strong, compared to years before, it’s taken some bigger spots to average out WWE’s books. Some of these trends should be worrying to WWE.

The following is a continued strategic analysis of the World Wrestling Entertainment Corporation (WWE). The following is profile information on the organization.

  • Company Name – World Wrestling Entertainment, an integrated media organization recognized as a leader in global entertainment.
  • The Company has four principal divisions within the organizational structure. Media 2. Live Entertainment 3. Products 4. Studios
  • The company Headquarters is in Samford, Conn.
  • Statement of Purpose, the WWE consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay per view, digital media, and publications platforms.
  • With 115 Wrestlers, 28 Broadcast Personalities, 12 Ambassadors, 16 on the Board, 14 Senior Leaders, the company employees thousands to support these personalities and its programs on a global front. With offices in Ct, Mexico City, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, NY, LA, London, Munich, and Tokyo.
  • Financials for year end 2015
  • 659 Million in Revenue, a 21% growth in Revenue
  • 5 Billion Market Cap
  • 36 Million Dividend Payout
  • 2016 Q2 Financial Reporting shows revenue increased 32% (13% excluding the timing impact of WrestleMania1) to a record $199.0 million as WWE’s Live Event and Network segments achieved their highest quarterly revenue in Company history.
  • OIBDA2of $7.5 million was in line with the Company’s guidance
  • WWE Network reached a record of 1.52 million average paid subscribers over the second quarter 2016, which represented a 25% increase from the second quarter 2015
  • SmackDown transitioned to a live format on USA Network. Since July 25, WWE’s flagship programs, Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, have and will continue to feature unique talent and storylines
  • Through the first six months of the year, digital engagement metrics continued to grow with video views up over 100% to nearly 8 billion and social media engagements up 39% to 570 million versus the prior year
  • Stock Exchange – NY Shock Exchange tag WWE and as of 12:46 pm 10/3/16 the stock was trading at $20.92.
  • The Chairman & CEO of the WWE is Vincent K. McMahon.

McMahon, a visionary promoter and recognized presence as a broadcast leader, joined his father’s company, Capital Wrestling in 1972. Ten Years later he bought the company from his father, established the WWE and took it to the National Market through a newly formed cable network division that started with pay per view and strategically grew to a monthly subscription format.

McMahon’s strategy for the company was to leverage the new technologies of pay per view and closed-circuit television. He used this strategy for the first WrestleMania in 1985. By using these platforms, he has established and built not only a brand that people would watch in syndication but he also built the WWE into a brand that people would pay to watch. This strategy proved to be successful and by the year 2000 more than a million fans purchased WrestleMania X6. For the year 2000, this event was the most watched combat sport event in pay per view history. The strategy and brand loyalty continued and by 2014 the WWE launched its first ever 24/7 direct to consumer network in the United States. As McMahon’s direct to consumer strategy continues to grow the WWE events are continuing to show record-breaking attendance.

This year, WrestleMania 32 set a new attendance record of 101,763 fans. All their formats for Direct to Consumer are showing signs of success for the company. From its live events at its core to its television programming 52 weeks a year, to its newest monthly subscription, the WWE’s syndication strategy is working. The Company has created a brand, like no other in the entertainment industry, and with that brand has created great brand loyalty. They have rewarded that loyalty with continued enhanced ways to view their programming.

In looking at the financials for the WWE their OBIBDA was 35.1 million. They have 80 million in cash on hand and 190 million in available credit. Their current EPS is fluctuating between $20 and $21 / share on the NY stock exchange. Their Debt to Assets on their 2016 Q2 report shows Liabilities at 180.1 million and total Assets at 396.1 million. Important to note in looking at the entertainment industry is the payments related to the Company’s television rights agreements as well as payouts of management incentive compensation which can have a direct impact on cash flow and liquidity. This is not unusual for sports entertainment personalities. In the National Baseball League, they put a cap on salaries so no one team can have a competitive advantage in the sport. With the WWE there is no cap on salaries for the wrestlers with regards to competitors so they must not over extend their cash flow by over paying more popular personalities in their employ to avoid any negative cash flow or liquidity.

NXT has formed an alliance with the WWE and is to them as AAA is to the NBL. They are a feeder for them. The only other competition is the Ring of Honor. This wrestling company was purchased in 2011 by the parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting Group. The SBG is the largest television station operator owning 156 stations in 80 markets as well as 4 radio stations and the Ring of Honor Wrestling. Although the ROH was never a strong competition to the WWE, with this new parent company it has the potential to have a real presence if the SBG parent company chooses to focus on this small new division of its company. It is currently holding live events and pay per view events. SBG had 2 Billion in revenue in 2015 from its media group. They list out their TV channels, FOX, CBS, ABC, and others on their balance sheet but ROH is not listed. They could be lumped into their other assets line which is minimal compared to their TV channels income. Their stock was listed at $28.88 / share. They have 422 million in operating income and list Revenue in excess of 2 billion. The only thing found on ROH in the financial report was a national contract with Destination America to broadcast 26 weeks of wrestling. This parent company is clearly focused on their TV channels.

If they should put some focused effort on the ROH division they could make it more of a competitor to the WWE, cutting into their share of the market. They seem to be the only threat to the WWE in the national market place today. Their corporate Head Quarters is in Baltimore, MD. Their parent company is financially strong but is not diverse. They have a TV and Radio stage for the ROH. They know how to create on air personalities but they are not in the sporting entertainment field in any of their portfolios except for ROH. Certainly, a company that the WWE should keep an eye on.
Identification of Company Sources of Competitive Advantage VIRO Criteria.

In the WWE 2016 Q2 financial report it lists 1.2 million as cash used for capital expenditures as its cash flow source. Additionally, it lists purchase of property and equipment source, purchase of corporate air craft, as 8.8 million as a negative drain on cash flow. So they spent more than they had cash on hand by 7.6 million. In terms of VIRO, or the firm’s strategy. The value of the firm’s ability to exploit an opportunity is high due to its positive cash flow as well as a currently available credit line of 199 million. Now being a monopoly with a unique product form could make them blind to a competitor until it is too late. Take Blockbuster as an example. The all American way to rent a movie seen on every corner across America was taken down by a concept of direct to consumers with net flicks. They stole a huge market share and Blockbuster started closing stores as it rental boxes in supermarkets was too little too late for consumers.

The WWE needs to take a lesson from Blockbuster and be sure to be mindful of the competition out there. Rarity is strong as there are few people in control of the resources of the company. Those few have to make smart decisions on capital investments in salaries as well as luxury items like the airplane listed on the cash flow 2016 Q2 report. Imitability is strong as building a brand of solid characters and stories takes a special talent of writers to create the characters and talent to fit the roles. The company appears to be well organized in four key divisions. In conclusion, in terms of VRIO, the WWE corporate structure and strategies, as well as controls, seems to be solid.

The WWE brand is solid in the entertainment industry. They have very little competition in wrestling entertainment and none that currently leverages the syndication and monthly subscriptions that the WWE offers to its customers. The largest competitors in the National Market are ROH ( Ring of Honor) and NXT. The WWE has embraced the NXT and is using them as a feeder for its future personalities/performers. The writers at the WWE are world-class in their ability to create meaningful story lines behind the performers to make them part of the WEE Brand and leverage the personalities/talent coming up through the NXT to create new story lines. The Ring of Honor wrestling group based in Baltimore, MD with David Smith as CEO was not a threat to the WWE until they were bought out by the Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG). The Sinclair Group is the largest owners of TV stations owning the likes of Fox, CBS, and ABC and others as well as 4 radio stations. The Ring of Honor has financial backing and TV and radio presence and is on the Pay per view front with the WWE.

They have not done any monthly subscriptions but this could be part of their future strategies for growth and if it is then the WWE needs to keep an eye on the ROH as they could become a stronger competitor in the future. Another privately held company to watch is the UFC. The UFC has personalities and are leveraging the pay per view networking for their events and do have live events as well. They are modeling themselves after the WWE. Now their mixed martial arts offering is a different sport from wrestling so although not a direct competitor in the same entertainment offering, the UFC could take some of their market share in the monthly subscription if the UCF offers this form and continues to grow its personalities. The consumers may decide to have one monthly subscription yearly and flip-flop between the two sports.

I would recommend that the WWE continue to connect with their consumers. I would recommend they add two things to their strategy to continue to retain and grow their consumer base. First I would recommend that they leverage mobile devices through the WWE AP and continue to develop this AP as a means to not only watch broadcasts on the go but also to connect with their customers through live blogs and live streaming interactive events. They need to create a FaceBook merged with Twiter type platform for WWE where the customers can share photos and interact with the stars of the WWE. My second recommendation would be to grow their international subscriptions. Current U.S. subscription revenue is 940 million and the international is only at 277 million. Part of their international growth strategy should include the enhancements to the WWE AP as well as advertising to increase their international subscriber base.

They need to keep an eye on ROH as their parent company could decide to invest in their wrestling division to make it a stronger competitor to the WWE. They have been the parent company for several years and perhaps have not focused on the division for growth. In 2015 they signed a contract for 26 TV shows for the ROH. They seem to be using their core business and contacts to leverage the new wrestling arm to SEG but have yet to try more than pay per view & live events with this division. The ROH does not have the brand recognition or following that the WWE has. Customer loyalty can change with the right introduction of a new product from but in the case of the WWE, they seem to still have a loyal and dedicated following for their personalities and their sport that appears to continue to grow year over year. That kind of customer base is hard to penetrate as long as the WWE continues to provide quality programming to its customers.