By: Renny D & Travis “Durty” Mester
1.) What does WWE need to do to compete with the NFL on Monday Nights?
Renny D: Honestly WWE cannot compete with the NFL. We can sit here and toss out hypotheticals but it’s just not possible. The NFL is the most popular sport in America. The season opener of the NFL went against WWE’s second fiddle SmackDown! and it wasn’t even close. Forbes just published an article on how WWE can maintain during the NFL season. It’s hard but their ratings will consistently be in the 2.7-2.8 range…down from what they are used too (normally 3.0+).
If anything the WWE needs to step up their game as far as their programming goes. Much of Monday Night Raw is dominated by talking, infomercials, and non-sense. I know you cannot take a NXT approach as that is not the audience they are trying to reach with their Monday and Thursday programming but they need provocative storylines. It hurts to say this but the most cutting edge storyline on WWE TV right now is Dolph/Lana vs. Rusev/Summer Rae. The Divas Revolution has fallen flat (although Sasha Banks vs. Bailey will main event the next NXT Take Over event). I don’t think Sting is enough to tip the scales either.
Promote events a week in advanced and give us a preview of WHY we should tune-in over the NFL. If we don’t know why most likely we will just DVR Raw/SmackDown! and replay at our convenience. If we do not watch within three days then WWE doesn’t get that credited 3+ rating points that they’d like.
So my long-winded answer is this: promote the next week of programming when you have the chance. Give us a reason to tune-in.
Mester: As mentioned on a recent episode of Pencil Podcast, WWE advertising needs to put out the main event angle, etc. of Raw prior to the show more often. A la John Cena v CM Punk at Raw 1,000. Surprises are great, but are only effective if eyes are on the product. Also, they need to have one of their special attractions (Brock Lesnar) wrestle a match on free TV in the next few months leading up to Royal Rumble.
2.) Who is the Tom Brady of the WWE?
Renny D: Tom Brady. Peyton Manning is a close second but it is Tom Brady. He is the poster-child. Especially now after winning deflate-gate. He can do no wrong. John Cena can do no wrong. They both are draws. They are both winners. They are both awesome.
Mester: It’s John Cena. And I don’t think it’s debatable. He’s the face of the company. He’s the most important cog. And he’s the easiest to hate. And Cena supporters, like Brady lovers, are loud and proud.
3.) You are starting your own wrestling promotion, who is your first pick from the WWE?
Renny D: JC – John Cena. I am a businessman at heart. I want to make money. John Cena is the biggest draw still to this day in pro wrestling. The Undertaker is a special attraction. Dolph is popular. Brock is a beast but at the end-of-the-day John Cena brings in more dollars and cents than anyone else.
Mester: Brock Lesnar. He’s the most must-see thing WWE has had since his return in 2012. And everything creative has thrown at him, he has knocked out of the park. He can work Undertaker, Seth Rollins, John Cena, Roman Reigns or the Big Show and make me want to watch. Not many other names can do that. And I believe signing him as my #1 pick would indirectly get me Paul Heyman, which is a big bonus. I could see the argument for some of the younger guys, but I don’t think it can be argued: If Lesnar is your main attraction, it doesn’t matter what else is on the card, people will watch. You can’t commit that statement to anyone else outside of Cena.
4.) What current NFL player could you see develop a career in the WWE?
Renny D: I love size and skills but I also love stick guys. The best stick guy in the NFL is Richard Sherman. Not to mention he is educated. He could pick up pro wrestling rather quickly I would think. The promo he cut on Michael Crabtree after the NFC Championship game two years ago was awesome. That’s the kind of passion we need on the mic in the WWE. There are plenty of large athletes in WWE but none that can talk on a mic like Mr. Sherman. With that being said I hate you Mr. Sherman. I hate you. (49er fan here).
Mester: Rob Gronkowski. He’s got the looks, the charisma, the fan appeal and the legitimate size to be believable. And the female contingency in the crowd would love them some Gronk. That part shouldn’t be forgotten when fans think of WWE making stars. Guys love wrestling and are going to watch because they’re lifelong fans. Women love guys. Good looking ones.
5.) What current WWE superstar could you see develop a career in the NFL?
Renny D: Braun Stroman. This dude is a giant. I know Brock Lesnar couldn’t pick up the NFL…and Braun may not be able too either but I feel like he could block someone from getting to a quarterback. Braun Stroman. Say it with me.
Mester: I’m going to say Dolph Ziggler. Stick him in the slot receiver position with Manning or Brady at QB and watch him turn into Julian Edelman/Wes Welker type.
6.) What are the main differences between the WWE and the NFL?
Renny D: The perception between real and fake. I know pro wrestling fans understand that the sport is pre-determined but they are nerds who love it (I say nerds in a good way). The NFL generates a ton of money in merchandise, ticket sales (although these are declining as it is as good to watch a game at home), TV rights, and sports betting. The WWE has very similar revenue generating streams but they venture more into licensing (action figures). But no one thinks the WWE is real. That’s why there is not a world around betting WWE. I think they are both sports. I think they both draw. One other big difference is a WWE show is a must-see in person. The NFL is an event people don’t mind watching from home…but when WWE comes to town most of us WANT and NEED to be there. Oh not to mention WWE doesn’t take an “offseason.” WWE > NFL
Mester: Fantasy Football and the at-home experience of watching the product. How many friends of yours do you know who haven’t played fantasy football before? Exactly. It’s the biggest group orgy of sports awesomeness aside from the NCAA tournament brackets. In my league, there are 65-year old men, 30-year old women and 25-year old boys. No one is left out of the fun, and the NFL reaches demographics that other sports could only dream of. The Red Zone channel and HD television have taken the NFL at-home experience to a place that is unmatched by any other entertainment or sports medium. You can watch 15 games every Sunday, only watch the touchdowns, see your favorite team or follow your fantasy team from your couch. Nothing the WWE Network could do would be able to touch what the NFL has with cable, Direct TV and online services.
And, the NFL dominates the TV screen about 25 days a year with live content. WWE has a tougher job to sell year round with new content.