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Heel Turns: How to improve WWE Network

Posted by Achilles Heel On November 2

Achilles HeelWhat can WWE do to get more people to subscribe to WWE Network?

WWE has already responded to its modest increase in subscribers – despite being available in more countries – by eliminating the six-month commitment. You can cancel at any time. The Greek god of wrestling assumes that the subscription will automatically roll over every month unless you cancel it. Otherwise, WWE would lose tons of subscribers each month simply because people forget to renew.

Another enticement from WWE is, for new subscribers only, November is free. November, of course, includes Survivor Series.

WWE obviously believes that one of the difficulties in attracting news subscribers is getting them to try WWE Network. Removing the six-month commitment and offering November for free are clearly designed to eliminate any reluctance to try WWE Network.

This past week WWE announced that WWE Network has 731,000 subscribers. As noted earlier, this increase of 31,000 over last quarter is disappointing considering that WWE Network is available in more countries that it was last quarter. (For simpletons not familiar with the business world, “quarter” is a financial term referring to sections of the fiscal year.)

The elimination of the six-month commitment is interesting because it eliminates the revenue certainty WWE Network was supposed to bring. It also eliminates the constant access to an audience to promote events and merchandise, which was supposed to one of the benefits of WWE Network. My educated (of course) guess is that there will be a spike in subscriptions before WrestleMania. The question is how many of those subscribers will stick around after that month.

Achilles Heel has a few ideas to make WWE Network more attractive to subscribers. Although I am well-versed in business, my suggestions this week will be confined to content. (Although, contrary to the beliefs of too many business types in too many media companies, content and business are closely related.)

1) Make the schedule more accessible. WWE seems to want people to check out the Network to see what’s on. Achilles Heel says WWE should tell that what’s on – and not just for the next few hours. Make the schedule for the whole day easily accessible. Better yet, make the schedule for the next seven days accessible. Yes, people can look up shows on demand, but, instead of having them search for shows, WWE should let them know in advance when shows will be broadcast. People will plan to watch shows, just as they do with the limited daily schedule.

2) Create more consistency in the schedule. For example, there should be designated one-hour time slots for wrestling from the territories. Even better, have the old territory shows on the same day each week. Monday could feature shows from World Class Championship Wrestling, Tuesday could be AWA, Wednesday could be ECW, Thursday could be Mid-South Wrestling and Friday could be Championship Wrestling from Florida or the old TBS shows from Georgia Championship Wrestling. Why not dedicate the Saturday morning block every week to old WWWF and WWF shows (Superstars, Challenge and their predecessors)?  The old WWWF and WWF shows were broadcast on Saturday morning. People are always nostalgic for the way things were when they were kids. Give them what they want.

3) Dedicate one night each week for a featured documentary. One of WWE’s strengths is the quality of its documentaries. They should appear throughout the week, but there should be one prime-time spot every week for the featured documentary of the week.

4) WWE Network should have a daily news show. At a designated time (5 p.m. and/or 11 p.m. – later on Monday’s), there should be a discussion of the events of that day (or that week). There will be a lead story, with interview and analysis. This would likely involve an angle on RAW, Smackdown or a pay-per-view. If there was a big upset on RAW, treat it like a news story. There should be some secondary stories, just as there are on the local news. There could be a “this day in history” segment toward the end of the news, featuring archived footage. There could be features involving current and former wrestlers. There could be features on developmental wrestlers. The possibilities are endless.

The Greek god of wrestling enjoys WWE Network and wants to see it succeed, which is why he is offering these suggested improvements to WWE for free instead of holding out for a consultant’s fee. Let’s hope WWE isn’t too proud to take my advice.

*****

RUMBLE SOLD OUT: When Achilles Heel saw the ticket prices for the Royal Rumble, he was concerned they were too high for the plebeians. In a rare moment, the Greek god of wrestling admits he was wrong. The Royal Rumble at Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 25 sold out within hours of going on sale Saturday. That’s positive news for WWE.

*****

ROODE-NESS PREVAILS: Congratulations to Bobby Roode, who regained the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from Bobby Lashley on Impact Wrestling this past Wednesday. Roode and Lashley produced a terrific match – despite the overbooking of multiple referee bumps – before a small and less-than-inspiring crowd. Roode has been TNA’s best champion in recent years, so Achilles Heel is glad to see him with the belt back around his waist.

On the other hand, the Greek god of wrestling continues to worry about TNA’s future. I know TNA taped a ton of television during September’s shows in Bethlehem, but there aren’t any live events listed on TNA’s Web site until the United Kingdom Tour that begins in late January. Is the lack of a date to tape television an indication that TNA won’t be on television after its current extension with Spike TV expires?

*****

CELL RECEPTION: As Achilles Heel predicted, Hell in a Cell was a terrific event. Most importantly, the two Hell in a Cell match involved rivalries for which a Hell in a Cell match seemed appropriate. Sometimes the match seemingly takes place in a Hell in a Cell only because that’s the name of the pay-per-view. That wasn’t the case this year.

The long bitter rivalry between Randy Orton and John Cena is worthy of a Hell in a Cell match. As I noted in last week’s Heel Turns, giving the winner a shot at Brock Lesnar’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship added intrigue to this match. Cena and Orton delivered an epic match, with Cena prevailing with an Attitude Adjustment through a table from the corner turnbuckles. Cena and Orton deserve a lot of credit for producing an epic match without using the cage too much, saving the insane cage spots for the later match between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose.

The crazy cage match between Rollins and Ambrose started with Ambrose climbing to the top of the cage. Rollins sent Authority stooges Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury to the top of the cage to bring Ambrose down. Ambrose, of course, beat Noble and Mercury with a kendo stick, allowing Rollins to climb the cage and attack Ambrose. After fighting on top of the cage, Ambrose and Rollins battled while climbing down the side of the cage. This led to a spot in which both of them fell off the cage and through the ringside broadcast tables.

Both men were being taken off on stretchers, but the match didn’t end there. Ambrose got off his stretch, attacked Rollins and dragged him into the ring. There was an inconclusive finish, with the lights going out, a holograph appearing in the ring and, subsequently, Bray Wyatt attacking Ambrose. Rollins won the match, but Ambrose was protected from losing clean.

The main events were the highlights, as they should be, but the undercard also was good. Dolph Ziggler opened the show by retaining the Intercontinental Championship with two straight falls against Cesaro in an entertaining 2-out-of-3-falls match. Goldust and Stardust retained the WWE Tag Team Championship by beating the Jimmy and Jey Uso in an action-packed match.

Seamus retained the United States Championship against The Miz in a match highlighted by the comedic actions of Damien Sandow, acting as Miz’s stunt double. Rusev beat Big Show in a good match that set up Mark Henry’s heel turn the next night on RAW, A.J. Lee retained the Divas Championship in an OK match with Paige, and Nikki Bella defeated twin sister Brie Bella in a decent match that was better than many expected.

Hell in a Cell was terrific. It was certainly worth the monthly WWE Network fee of $9.99.

*****

CONTROVERSIAL ENDING: With a shift from traditional pay-per-view to the WWE Network, WWE seems more willing to end big events with angles rather than conclusive endings. Bray Wyatt’s interference in the Seth Rollins-Dean Ambrose Hell in a Cell match is a perfect example of this trend.

*****

BRYAN A GIANT SENSATION: Injured former champion Daniel Bryan played a prominent role in the parade celebrating the San Francisco Giants’ World Series championship. Bryan led the crowd in “Yes!” chants. Midway through the season, former Phillie Hunter Pence, a wrestling fan, started encouraging fans to do the “Yes!” chant, frequently after home runs. Bryan appeared before a playoff game to lead the crowd in his signature chant, and did it again during this past week’s parade.

*****

GEIGEL DIES: Condolence to the family and friends of former NWA president Bob Geigel, who died Thursday at the age of 90. Geigel was the owner of the Central States Wrestling organization, and later took over the St. Louis office. Geigel wrestled from the 1950s through the 1970s while holding ownership before becoming exclusively an on-air authority figure.

*****

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: Ring of Honor has a huge weekend coming up in Ohio. On Friday in Columbus, there will be six Survival of the Fittest 2014 qualifying matches. The next night in Toledo, the winners of the qualifying matches will be a six-man elimination match, with the winner earning a shot at the Ring of Honor World Championship.

Friday’s qualifying matchups are: Matt Sydal vs. ACH; Jay Lethal vs. Hanson; Adam Page vs. Cedric Alexander; Tommaso Ciampa vs. Caprice Coleman; Roderick Strong vs. Tadarius Thomas; and Adam Cole vs. Delirious.

Ring of Honor champion Jay Briscoe will be team with his brother Mark on both shows. They will battle Matt Taven and Michael Bennett in a no-disqualification match on Friday, and then will battle Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian on Saturday.

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