If you're gonna fail, why not fail in a big way? -Vince McMahon
It’s normal for us to make mistakes. That’s why there are erasers at the end of our pencils. However, when you are a publicly traded global sports entertainment company, that’s a pretty big pencil.
Needless to say, after its formation in 1982, the WWE has been trying to stay at the forefront of not only the sports industry, but the entertainment industry too because there has to be more than just two man wrestling in a ring (right, Impact Wrestling?). In order for a company to grow and strive, you need to reach out and try to have a hand in multiple facets of the entertainment industry. With the debut of the new WWE YouTube channel this week, it is important that the WWE gets things right more than ever.
The best way to do that is to look back at their mistakes and hopefully learn from them. So, WWE, if your YouTube channel does extremely well, kick some of the money back my way for the lessons. You are welcome.
1. Xtreme Football League
Oh god. Let’s start with the mistake of all mistakes. When the XFL was advertised, it was being advertised as football with no rules. I mean, when you combine football with professional wrestling, there has to be some hardcore fighting action going on, right? NO! It was football! Just football with different team names and nicknames on the back of the jerseys! He Hate Me? How about Everyone Hated It? The only thing that was different was determining who got the ball first by having one member from each team fight over the ball in a "scramble." In any event, this leads to the lesson that false advertisement kills. It was pretty much the same as football. It even spawned the new age of football with mics on the players and cameras on the field. But, when you have something that is pretty much the same as something else that has been around for decades, you don’t exactly have a leg up. When you falsely advertise that it will be different and it is not, you make people turn away and not care anymore...which is exactly what happened. After one season, the XFL was sacked.
2. World Bodybuilding Federation
Ah, the WBF. The first of WWE and Vince McMahon’s failed attempts. It’s pretty much what it sounds like. To compete with the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB), McMahon formed the WBF and claimed that it was going to offer dramatic new events and the biggest prize money out there. After signing away several IFBB regulars, the WBF seemed poised for great things. However, after only two years, it was no more. Why? Because you need to keep the audience entertained. Nobody wants to see real life body builders as “characters.” Then all you have is wrestlers but not wrestling. Nobody wants to see how these guys work out because it makes the viewers seem inadequate and it is boring. Plus, just how entertaining is body building? I don’t remember the '80s, but it couldn’t have been that entertaining. McMahon tried to keep it entertaining by attempting to get celebrities like Lou Ferrigno, but even that fell through. In the end, I guess the WBF didn’t have enough muscle to survive.
3. WWF New York (The World)
Out of all of the failures, this one seemed like it could have worked. Founded in 1999, The World was pretty much the WWE's equivalent of Planet Hollywood. It featured a restaurant, merchandise store and an underground nightclub. It even hosted Sunday Night Heat from 2000-2002. If you look at it as a whole, it seemed like The World could have been a big success for the WWE. However, in 2003, The World closed down for good. So, what led to the end of The World? No, it wasn’t Chris Jericho. It was because WWE did not learn their boundaries. This applies two ways. First, in order for The World to be successful, they needed to branch out to more than just New York. What about Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago? It's hard to make a successful restaurant/nightclub with just one location. I mean, Planet Hollywood is not just in Hollywood. Second, maybe a restaurant/nightclub wasn’t the best way for WWE to spread its name around. I mean, if you are reading this, then you are a wrestling fan and know wrestling fans. Would any of them go to a nightclub? Unless I am dancing with Kelly Kelly and there is a chance I can take her home, I’m not interested.
4. WWE ECW
We all remember the old school Extreme Championship Wrestling. So many chairs. So many tables. So much blood. ECW attracted the kind of wrestling fans that only watched NASCAR for the wrecks. However, it was entertaining. It was different. It was interesting to see wrestling taken to the extreme and what could happen. But, it wasn’t the ideal company to market and try to make grow because of the fact that it was so extreme. I mean, the Sandman consuming beer and hitting his head with the beer can or a blood covered Sabu doesn’t exactly scream "spokesperson". So, after the whole Invasion angle in 2001, there was no ECW until “One Night Stand” in 2005 and 2006. While that was tame compared to old ECW, WWE’s version of ECW that aired from 2006-2010 was even tamer... and it failed. There’s a saying that goes, “If it is not broke, don’t fix it.” This applies here. WWE changed what made ECW successful and caused it to fail. Granted, with WWE wanting to have a PG rating, this was bound to happen. Nevertheless, it was doomed from the start. It caused hardcore ECW fans to turn away because there was no more true ECW and it caused new ECW fans to stop watching after a couple of weeks because it was just not what they thought it was going to be. With no fans, ECW dropped off the face of the earth faster than Kevin Thorn.
5. WWE Niagra Falls
To tell you the truth, before writing this article, I had no idea what the hell WWE Niagara Falls was. Maybe that is because the furthest north I have been in the United States was New York for only a period of 17 hours. Anyways, WWE Niagara Falls was the retail shop for the ultimate WWE fan at one of the biggest tourist attractions in North America. It featured memorabilia, exhibitions, and even its own drop tower ride known as The Pile Driver. However, since it was in Canada, the ride was only open from mid-May to mid-November due to the climate and also seasonal demand. Sometimes wrestlers would even show up and sign autographs for fans. Out of all the business ventures on this list, WWE Niagara Falls was the most successful, lasting from 2002-2011. In all honesty, it was a good idea. Advertising the WWE in a fun way at one of the biggest tourist attractions in North America, let alone the world, is perfect. However, after the big bang it had, people slowly lost interest and WWE did the best thing that they could do. They cut their losses and got rid of WWE Niagara Falls. Sometimes, you have to cut off a finger to save the hand. That is, unless that hand is the one that Mae Young birthed.
So, remember, WWE, when it comes to your new YouTube channel, remember your lessons:
1. Do not false advertise. Don’t say you are going to do something different. Do something original. That way, you can bring the audience in rather than turn them away.
2. Keep the audience entertained. With personalities like Zack Ryder, Dolph Ziggler and Santino Marella, that should be easy.
3. Learn your boundaries. Don’t step outside what makes you successful. This means WRESTLING. If I see Wade Barrett teaching us how to bake brownies, I’m done.
4. If it is not broke, do not fix it. For God’s sake, do not change “Z! True Long Island Story”!
5. When you need to, cut your losses. At least you still have the WWE Network debuting later this year. We hope.