There may be nothing that WWE fans enjoy more than grousing about how WWE has no idea what it’s doing, and while that may be true when it comes to the creative department, which has somehow managed to book Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a Universal Title match at SummerSlam – their 800th match in the past two years, approximately – the business crew in Stamford seems to be doing a pretty good job.
WWE’s stock price reached an all-time high of $85.73 on Thursday, eventually settling at $83.84 at the close of trading, and the company’s long-term stock graph looks like Disco Stu’s record sales chart. If these trends continue… ayyyyy!
The hopes for professional wrestling’s flagship brand to continue on an upward trajectory should be a bit better than disco. WWE just signed not one, but two, new television deals, news of which last month drove the stock price to what was then an all-time high.
Also importantly, WWE showed earlier this year that it understands how to use Facebook as a conduit for its product, an area where major sports leagues are failing miserably. Viewership for the Mixed Match Challenge probably was not what the company had in mind, but it did finish strong and provided a solid template for the company moving forward.
Aside from serving as a foray into streaming on social media, the Mixed Match Challenge did something that WWE long has struggled with: it put men and women on equal footing. The booking there did not help, as anyone watching knew that Asuka’s undefeated start to her WWE career was not going to end on Facebook, but steps forward are steps forward. Now, WWE is moving ahead with an all-women’s pay-per-view event, Evolution, in October.
Pay-per-view in name only, that is, because Evolution, like all of WWE’s once-expensive premium events, can now be seen live or on demand on the streaming WWE Network, for the price of $9.99 a month. WWE uses the network not only to stage big events, and let wrestling fans watch old cards, but to put on original programming like “Ride Along,” where viewers get to better know performers by looking in on their city-to-city car rides together. It’s obvious why Major League Baseball can’t do something quite like that, but surely MLB At Bat could at least provide streaming access to MLB Network, or vintage World Series films, or… really just about anything.
As it stands, MLB At Bat and its analogs across sports are most useful for fans who don’t live in the same market as their favorite team, which, believe it or not, is an extreme minority of sports fans. Meanwhile, WWE Network is a must have for someone who wants to see wrestling’s biggest events, with a whole lot more offered beyond that.
These should be things that leagues comprised of 30 or more teams owned almost exclusively by billionaires are able to figure out, unless being super rich does not also automatically mean super smart, and some people just happen to have the good fortune of getting into an industry in which even the worst-run businesses are basically a license to print money. Someone that stupid and that rich, though, surely would eventually get duped out of a bunch of their money, right? In the dumbest possible way? So that can’t possibly be it. We’ll keep trying to figure it out.