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Stone Cold’s appearance on Raw just underscored a bigger WWE problem

Sylar

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Stone Cold Steve Austin was called in by WWE for a special appearance on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, reportedly because tickets weren’t moving all that well for the promotion’s return to Madison Square Garden. That was an issue, seeing as the return was for a live TV show.

And, hey, his appearance was fun! Who doesn’t love fun?

He cut a promo (he was always one of the best at that), hit AJ Styles with a Stone Cold Stunner after the double bird, and threw back a few beers in celebration. At the end of the night, he made his way out to have another celebration, sharing a few more with the babyfaces who emerged victorious in the 10-man tag team main event.

This all sounds good, but it really just served to underscore the major problem here: WWE does not have a star on the current roster who is anywhere near the level of Stone Cold Steve Austin. I don’t even mean Austin in his prime when he was feuding with Vince McMahon back in 1998. I mean Austin today. Like, right now. The podcast/talk show host who is 54-years-old.

That’s a problem!

That closing scene magnified that. Cedric Alexander pinned Styles — which is probably going to lead to a U.S. title match — and the first thing you heard was Austin’s music and all eyes were on him. He is the star, and his sharing beers with the Universal, Raw tag team, and maybe future U.S. champion isn’t going to make a new one.

I don’t know the answer here. The bigger issue is that no one at WWE seems to either.

https://www.cagesideseats.com/wwe/2019/9/10/20858389/stone-cold-steve-austin-raw-madison-square-garden-wwe-problem
Just saw this and decided to see what the smarks thought about this. It raises a few good points, but haven't we been aware of this for years?

It seemed ages ago when Cenation was winding down they wanted to focus on making WWE the star and brand attraction itself, right?
 

Chris

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I don't really disagree with this and I definitely see ticket sales as a much bigger problem than ratings bc a weekly show might be down just due to the current climate of TV and a lot of people might watch it next day instead of live (like me), but a live event especially at MSG should have enough special attraction to move the tickets regardless.

What I don't really agree with...or rather I kind of agree I just don't think the article completely gets it right. The problem is that the roster doesn't have a huge star like Austin, but the reason they don't have a star as big as Austin NOW which is the point they make, that Austin in 2019 is a bigger star than anyone else on the roster is just because nostalgia is the only fucking thing that can draw nowadays for whatever reason and that's something that's a problem in every medium. Just look at movies, every big money event now is a sequel, prequel, remake etc. and original shit doesn't get near as much buzz. There was an article I read a year or so ago talking about how the gap for best picture nominees and big money blockbusters was growing farther and farther without much overlap (which could also be a problem with the Academy but that's another topic), and that's because the big blockbusters are almost always franchises or remakes now where before there were still a ton of them, but original movies would make a ton of money and have a lot of buzz behind them as well. So yeah, it's a problem overall but like TV ratings, I think it's a problem afflicting much more than just WWE as a whole and that's why I don't blame them too much for relying on nostalgia when EVERYTHING has to rely on nostalgia right now to get anything outside of a niche audience. I don't really think it's fair for me to expect WWE to be the ones to crack the code for how to get something original over anymore when most other mediums can't, but if they do somehow then I'd definitely respect them a lot for it.
 
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Dale

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Aren't MSG tickets expensive, like super fucking expensive? I was reading on Reddit in the leadup to the event and it was just full of people saying how crazy the prices were for a family of like 3 or 4 and it totalling hundreds of dollars with all the other stuff added on top.
 
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The EC

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Aren't MSG tickets expensive, like super fucking expensive? I was reading on Reddit in the leadup to the event and it was just full of people saying how crazy the prices were for a family of like 3 or 4 and it totalling hundreds of dollars with all the other stuff added on top.
Hundreds for a family to to see Raw at MSG doesn't actually sound that steep to me if I'm being honest. Maybe I'm the jabroni but I just paid 80 something dollars to go see a Kid Cudi concert last year in a medium size venue and I didn't even get particularly good seats. Tickets for NBA games also go in the hundreds for one decent seat I believe. So idk, that just doesn't sound like highway robbery to me.

As for the article itself, I don't think it's saying anything we don't already know. When you think of who the top individual draws in the company are, the top two are clearly John Cena and Brock Lesnar who have been around close to 20 years and are pretty much in semi-retirement at this point. I couldn't even tell you who the biggest drawing full timer is because I don't think ratings or attendance have really seen improvement with anybody at the top. I would guess the two biggest draws who are actually active would be Roman Reigns and maybe AJ Styles, maybe Seth Rollins but I truly don't know. Regardless or who it is, they aren't good draws because they've all had a whirl at the top spot and yet here we are.

Going back to what Smark said though maybe it's by design that WWE has no one particular draw right now. Maybe they think the initials WWE are enough to pull people in. And they do, as long as we're talking about an established event like WrestleMania or special overseas PPVs. But on a week to week basis, there's much less appeal for fans to flock to arenas or tune in because there's not really any marquee names who you just can't miss on TV. At least that seems to be the case.

I guess the real question is, until investors start pulling out and networks really put the squeeze on Vince, does it matter? Those things are beginning to happen, it seems, but as long as the bottom line is looking pretty, they'll just keep trucking along. From a business perspective you can't really fault them for that. And it seems like they know if worse comes to worse they have an arsenal of legends with name value they can deploy to correct things in the short term. Eventually that novelty might wear off though, and then where do they turn?
 
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Sylar

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Maybe Boston Garden tickets are also expensive, but I generally pay between $100-200 for a pair of loge or floor seats.
 

Deezy

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This problem has been an undersocre since 2003.

Steve Austin's don't grow on trees......and let's not pretend any rasslin company have stars on that level too.
 

Cwalker

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The fact that guys from 20 years ago are more over than the current stars isn’t new news.

Hell, it’s part of the reason we get 2-3 Sweet Saudi Blood Money shows a year