Perhaps the most simultaneously intriguing yet unsatisfying aspect of watching WWE’s Royal Rumble this Sunday was firsthand knowledge of the glaring disconnect between the Company and its fanbase.
To explain, I’ve been a member of its ‘Fan Council’ for several years, one of thousands of individuals regularly asked to provide unpaid survey feedback on WWE events, promotions and products. I see this as a hopeful mechanism to indirectly reach key decision makers within the company on what is or isn’t working.
Akin to every other pay-per-view (PPV) event, WWE Fan Council members were once again asked to highlight and/or rank key moments of Royal Rumble 2020. Unfortunately, this opportunity yielded recognizance the event was but ‘Fair,’ at best. Most damning was this rating ‘Met My Expectations.’ Simply put: I’m expecting lower quality product…and am receiving it.
The saddest part of this mediocre product is that WWE leadership is well aware they are releasing it. Specifically, they ask Fan Council members to rank and elaborate on what they highlighted (meaning, deliberately wrote into storylines) as the key parts of the PPV. And with it display how out-of-touch they are with actual fan expectations, despite regularly seeking it.
The surveys speak volumes. While professional wrestling watchers crave athleticism, humor, intrigue and surprises, WWE remains fixated on obscure historical streaks, outdated and often sexist gags, and reviving characters from decades ago. This fixation is literally spelled out in Fan Council surveys by provided options to rank.
Moreover – and even as their ratings plummet – WWE is astonishingly ignoring feedback from Fan Council members (as trends provided at survey end), ones which overwhelmingly highlight best moments as those deviating from traditional WWE paths. In this instance, Fan Council members (at time of survey) deemed Drew McIntyre as the surprise winner of the Men’s Royal Rumble as the pinnacle of the PPV. I agree.
See, Fan Council members aren’t stupid. They very well recognize WWE’s caste system of only trusting select individuals…and at select moments. And relegating upstarts to existing in shadows of fictitious ‘records’ to have them always fall short of the brass ring that actually matters. And/or force feeding ‘legends’ into storylines to which novelty and nostalgia are beaten dead along the way.
Moreover, I’m confident many of the WWE’s Fan Council – like myself – are well schooled in an array of professional wrestling genres and promotion types. Likewise have some ‘insider’ connection to these. Meaning, the spectrum of possibilities are known. Opinions provided are based on knowledge of not a handful but plethora of options.
Thus, I again don’t understand why WWE can’t or won’t listen. For some perspective: I’m likewise on the NBA’s version of the Fan Council, write video game reviews for multiple sites (and for over a decade), and am an Amazon Vine member. In almost every instance, insider feedback is heeded and at least minimally applied. WWE, in contrast, requests an azmuth check…then goes back to its paradigm of mediocrity. NXT succeeded because it knowingly ignored the paradigm.