Recent pictures of arenas where Raw and Smackdown events were held showed the relative large areas of empty seats. Not only that, but superstars have also left the WWE more frequently, due to disappointment with the way they are booked. With smaller companies gaining more momentum each month, like Ring of Honor (ROH), and even overseas promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) catching the eyes of fans, is WWE’s worldwide status in peril?
For starters, let’s address the arena problems. Dave Meltzer noted on his podcast that September and October are usually low periods for the WWE. This is mainly because people are interested in the Baseball and Football seasons around this period. However, this does not excuse the record low views Raw and Smackdown got even before the month of September, coupled with the bad merch sales that the company has been experiencing as well.
On the topic of wrestlers leaving the company, this is not a new thing to happen in the WWE (see CM Punk). What needs to be touched upon is the frequency with which superstars have left the WWE in recent memory. Cody Rhodes, Austin Aries and Neville are just a few of the names that need to be mentioned here. All have left because they were not happy with their booking. This is an ongoing problem with the current WWE product. For instance, Cody Rhodes has shown how good he can really be on the indie scene, proving that all he needed was a good storyline, where he didn’t have to play a cosmic version of Goldust, in order to shine.
Furthermore, the WWE has shown many times that it CAN let the superstars be themselves. Chris Jericho and John Cena stand out: Jericho because of being able to reinvent his character, mostly by himself, whenever he comes back, while Cena has a free pass on pretty much every promo he does nowadays. Not to mention that NXT has shown to be the best product the WWE has to offer right now, and that is mostly owed to Triple H’s aid. Under the leadership of Triple H, the NXT show has put on amazing Pay-Per-Views and matches with characters you want to get behind.
Of course, it is too early to say if the WWE will lose popularity over the ever-growing ROH and NJPW, for example. What is for sure, the WWE needs to change their tactics and let more superstars be themselves, instead of feeding them to the fans with stupid gimmicks. All we, the fans, can do is wait, until Triple H takes over and applies the NXT model to the rest of the product.