Bigger than the brand?

Hey Scott,

You've written many times about the WWE taking the position that no one is bigger than the brand anymore, which I sort understand in the abstract, considering as a company grows, it becomes more risk averse. As a result, booking reflects company policy and most of the roster ends up treading water and trading wins with each other in feuds that meander without a clear arc. This has been covered ad finitum on the BOD.

Has the irony of this policy ever been discussed? While it seems the WWE is bound and determined not to allow anyone to breakthrough and become a crossover star in the mold of Austin, Rock, Hogan or Cena ever again, does it seem odd that it's these same crossover stars of yesterday that largely sell WrestleMania every year?

Is the WWE hamstringing itself long term by not creating acts they can call back for novelty appearances that draw casual fans in the future? Or does the product cycle sufficiently that in 10-15 years, a top of the card guy and multiple time world champion like say an Alberto Del Rio or a Sheamus draw lapsed fans who might have enjoyed their work when their fandom was stronger?

The massive stars of yesterday can't work forever. So, is the brand enough? Because it seems while the WWE asserts that, they lean on their greatest past successes way more than real belief in that philosophy would indicate.

Jon Eks
Jon of All Trades Podcast
Twitter: @JoATPod

We're seeing it now, in fact, with the marginalization of everything but the biggest of the big stars of the 80s and previous.  The more they drag out the legends for comedy spots, the less they mean.  Now if they do a wacky segment with Ted Dibiase and Ron Simmons and Jim Duggan, it means absolutely nothing because they've let themselves become part of the same system.  Rock and Austin are still smart enough to make sure they're special attractions.  It really does make me wonder as well what's going to happen with the new generation of guys when they retire and get forgotten.  Just look at how little Mick Foley and Edge mean in their return segments, for example.  And look at Goldberg, who is still a special attraction that fans don't see every week, suddenly selling 100K copies of his DVD despite not being on TV since 2004.