Tuesday, October 9, 2012

These Are Not The Changes We're Looking For

Lord knows one of my favorite things to do with this site (and throughout my time writing, really) is taking a look at heretofore unexplored angles to big stories. So, let’s take a couple recent wrestling stories and dump them on their ear, shall we?

Ring of Honor Changes Creative Team

So, the first big story that came out on October 8 was that Jim Cornette was out as head booker (matchmaker, creative director) of Ring of Honor and Hunter Johnston (aka masked wrestler Delirious) was (back) in. A lot of the online response has varied between two main schools of thought:

1) “Thank goodness/good riddance, etc.” to Jim Cornette being ousted, as some of RoH’s stories under his direction were seen as outdated by some. They seem to think this will go a long way in solving RoH’s current problems, but...

2) Others seem to think that there are bigger issues than creative, like the fact that Ring of Honor can’t seem to put out consecutive, problem-free internet Pay-Per-View broadcasts to save its own hide. A lot of this school seem to go along with the theory of, “they’re owned by a broadcasting company; can’t they get broadcasting right?”

It’s group 2) we’re going to focus on, because there’s a big question that, I think, has to be answered that no one seems to be able to. It’s a question that, if answered, could go a long way in explaining not only RoH’s inability to produce a working iPPV more than once a year, but also one that includes how much exposure Ring of Honor is getting since being bought by Sinclair Broadcasting Group and if they have any chance of competing as a viable alternative as a wrestling product. That question is:

How much money, if any, is Sinclair investing back in to Ring of Honor?

Think about it. It’s a question that no one has been able to answer, at least not in all the stories I’ve read and all the podcasts I’ve listened to about Ring of Honor (and that covers a surprising amount of ground). Jim Cornette said in a recent interview with Live Audio Wrestling that Sinclair is looking to acquire new, original content to feature on its stations, and that Ring of Honor was a way of getting their feet wet with the venture.

When Sinclair bought RoH back in May of 2011, I originally wrote that, “As for now, Ring of Honor, as a result of being owned by another company, finds itself in a much better position now than it has at any time in its nine years of existence.” I think it’s safe to drastically re-think that way of thinking as Ring of Honor sounds more like an experiment for SBC than an actual investment that they care about nurturing.

Sinclair is looking at the ratings of the RoH television show, which is how they’re making their money back off of RoH. Why would they care whether or not the iPPVs make any money, or even work? Is Sinclair seeing any of that money in their own coffers, or is it just in the ad revenue from airing the show? SBC doesn’t even seem to be very involved in producing the television shows, much less the iPPV broadcasts. This, above all, would seem a much larger concern than who’s writing the TV.

And speaking of writing TV, that brings us to story number two...

WWE Also Changes Creative Team

After Jim Cornette was replaced as head of RoH creative, WWE writer Brian Gerwitz was taken out of the spot of head writer for WWE Raw and replaced with a former studio executive. Since Gerwitz was seen as a lot of the cause of the decline of the product over the last decade-plus or so, many are cheering this decision. How good this will do remains to be seen, but again there’s another issue to think about here.

The October 1 Raw did something like a 2.5 rating, the lowest non-holiday rating it had done in years. Once that happened, Vince McMahon promised some drastic changes to the product – and started by ousting a guy who had been in his position for over ten years.

Does this mean McMahon is actually serious about making changes? Or, as one report from 411 points out, is McMahon simply losing touch with the public and his own product?

Either way, if I’m an employee at WWE, I’d be terrified right now. McMahon just ousted a guy from one of the top creative (if not the top creative) position in the company, seemingly on a whim. If he’s that committed to improving the product, or – as more seem to think – so apt to act so rashly based on a number, that company could be in for some more scary changes a lot quicker than many would think.

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