Posted by Chris Surrency
One of the more popular trends lately has been TNA diehards defending their brands horrible attendance by showing that WWE also has horrible attendance at times. Probably the most striking occurrence came this week when Smackdown taped from Kansas City with a massive portion of the area covered with tarps. Smackdown has been an up and down show for attendance, as well as viewers for ages. My thoughts on TNA were that they should keep the show on the road, but their intention should be to book only small arenas for the show until they get that universal recognition of a WWE, my thoughts on Smackdown are a bit more interesting. I feel the biggest reason people aren’t going to Smackdown tapings, and aren’t watching on TV, is because it’s taped and we’re a lazy society. Why go see it live when I can either watch it on TV a couple days later, or just read the spoilers and be done with everything? I feel Smackdown should become a live show each week, for at least a portion of the year, to give it that feeling of “anything can happen,” and to make it actually matter to people again.
The first move I would make would actually impact, no pun intended, TNA and their product directly. I would consider moving Smackdown back to Thursday instead of keeping it on Friday nights. The first move, while most diehard TNA supporters are going to completely miss this, is that this would make it seem like TNA is a “threat” and that you need to compete with them in order to get attention. This could help create a competitor and as I’ve said a billion times over, competition is good for business. Another thing this does is it places the show on a night where many people aren’t tied directly to watching anything else on television. Yes, there’s an NFL game on Thursday nights, but it’s not usually the most impressive matchup of the week. This would help the industry overall, while Impact wasn’t ready to move to Monday and go head to head with WWE and the NFL, a matchup between the secondary show and Impact would be a good option. You don’t have to “acknowledge” the company directly, but WWE could at least allude to moving in order to “retain their dominance in the business.” Friday night is a very busy night usually, which is why the viewership will ALWAYS struggle on that night, a move back to Thursday has been mentioned plenty of times, and couldn’t really hurt at this point.
My next move seems a bit difficult, a bit crazy, but its one thing that I truly feel would make a difference in attendance and viewership of the Smackdown product. Instead of taping the show the night after Raw and airing it on Friday, or Thursday if my model were followed, it should air live on whichever night it’s supposed to be televised. While we all know that the shows are scripted out, one major reason Raw gets good numbers is because of the simple fact that it’s live and offers you that feeling that at any moment, anything can happen. This is missing from Smackdown because of the taping schedule and people having the ability to read the results three days before seeing it on television. I know there’s a cost to doing live television, that hauling the set around is very expensive, and I’ll touch on that later. Live television is always preferred over a taped event, especially one we can read about ahead of time, and even more in this age of DVR, what benefit is there to watch Smackdown on Friday when I already know what’s going to happen and can record it to watch whenever I choose? This is possibly the biggest problem with the show, because it just feels like a second rate show. While it’s the number, two show in the lineup, you NEVER want people to think of anything you produce as “second rate,” that is certainly not what’s best for business.
I can already hear the grumbling, people are losing their mind with rage as they’re dying to tell me going live is a horrible idea and would bankrupt the company just based on expense. My thought on this is simple, WWE already has a deal with Full Sail University to do the NXT tapings on site, why not buy up some adjacent land and “donate” an area of some sort to the university? One of my favorite times watching Nitro was when they would film from MGM Studios in Orlando; to this day, I can’t walk through the entrance gate without seeing the letters WCW up on the top in my mind. WWE should buy property and either build an arena on site that can hold at least five to eight thousand people, either open air or closed. This could be “donated” to the college and become a tax write off; it would also become the semi-permanent home for Smackdown to do their live shows. The arena could be used for other events while WWE isn’t in town, which would help cover the expenses of upkeep. I would propose a special set being housed nearby instead of the set used for each weeks Raw as well. Another added benefit would be the ability to test our certain NXT prospects without putting them on the road full time. They would be in the area and you could use Smackdown to build them before sending them to Raw and out on the road.
This could revolutionize the way WWE does television, providing a studio to film for Main Event and any other show they may come up with as well. I’m always trying to think of ways to better the business and I honestly feel that something like this could be a great idea in the long run. Another upside to being in the area is they would be close to the Performance Center, this would allow injured workers who are trying to get ready for a return to actually rehab in ring and get face time in front of a crowd. The possibilities are endless, and I know there may be downsides associated but I honestly feel that the positives of this idea heavily outweigh the negatives. WWE is a massive company and they have a tendency to evolve, this would just be the next evolution of their product. The company wouldn’t have to do every show from the building; they could do a rotation of being in the building then going on the road for a couple weeks or months, then coming back home to live television from Full Sail. Sure, my theories may be a bit crazy at times, but I honestly feel this is a step in the right direction. With the proposed WWE Hall of Fame, this could make different locations in Orlando feel WWE is serious about setting up shop in the area, making a deal for a Hall just a little more likely as well. I’m open for suggestions on this one, but I truly feel, at the end of the day this proposal is what’s best for business.
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