Triple H and Stephanie McMahon recently took part in a chat with investors and were asked about the UFC. The WWE execs not only dismissed the UFC as competition and explained why the WWE is much better than its non-competition.
“They aren’t really a competitor to us and I explain this to our talent this way in the Performance Center and every time I say it people will say to me oh, that made it very clear for me: people like UFC, they like boxing, but it’s completely different from what we are. We are like the movie Rocky. We’re a story. We’re a great story that just happens to take place sometimes in the wrestling ring, so if you think about us less of Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match which you’ll watch one time and on pay-per-view and then once that fight’s over it’s kind of done, you know, and you’re really not going to go back and watch it a bunch of times unless you’re a connoisseur of boxing science, you’re gonna watch it one time. But Rocky the movie you will watch over and over and over again. It’s the story, it’s the characters. Boxing is irrelevant to the movie really. It’s a triumph story, it’s a love story, it’s all those things and that’s what we do. We create characters that you gravitate towards, that you connect with, that you passionately engage with, you believe in on a visceral level, whether you hate them or love them. We put them in unique storylines with creative passions and good guys and bad guys and the drama and sometimes love throws. We were married and divorced once on TV long before we did it for real, you know? It was a dry run, that’s why it works so well, we got it out of our system. You know, you have all those components, but that’s what makes us so successful and at the end of the day that’s what makes the Network successful because while a sport, who is gonna go back to watch the Superbowl from ’84? Yeah, right, unless you’re a massive technical football fan! Or who’s gonna go back and watch boxing from five years ago, you’re not, or UFC, it’s the same thing, it’s the same component. But our product is evergreen, because its the characters and the stories that you engage in, that’s what makes a passionate fan of the WWE and it’s lifelong, because even if you move away from it, even if you become a lapsed fan, you get out of college, you don’t have a lot of free time anymore, you get a job, you have kids, you do all those things, and now all of a sudden your kids start to watch, and you get on the Network and you start to watch the Attitude Era or the ’80s, that Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior that you watched when you were a kid and all that emotion comes flooding back to you and it’s something that you don’t put down, that you don’t walk away from, it’s always there and it’s very easy to get hooked back into it to watch it again.”
The irony here is that he has some very valid points yet also winds up contradicting himself in the process. The point about the UFC having a five-year shelf life with its fans while the WWE has an infinite shelf life may be one of the dumbest things he has ever said. I would take that statement and flip it. While I am not a big UFC fan anymore, I look at the UFC like any sport. I can stop watching baseball today and jump into a game next week, next year, two years from now, five years from now, etc and get right back into it. Chances are while I may not be a hardcore fan of that sport forever I will always have an affinity because essentially the sport will never change. I think the same can be said about the UFC. While you may not be as hardcore as you were when you originally discovered it, you will likely stop on a free event on TV long after your fandom declines. That can’t be said about the WWE.
Look at the WWE audience. They are targeting to kids and families. Kids grow up, find other activities, and are less likely to go back to the WWE. If he was right, where are the millions of people who watched pro wrestling during the Monday Night Wars? It’s been over fifteen years and most of them still haven’t come back. I think his point about the soap opera/entertainment aspect separating them from the UFC is accurate. I never found the crossover in UFC and WWE to be as high as some people. But his analysis is completely off in my opinion.
Quite frankly his wife made more sense in explaining the differences, the differences I have always pointed to as to why they are so different.
She is dead on. That has always been the difference in my eyes between the WWE and the UFC. That is why I never can understand why they are so frequently compared. The WWE can script their matches, stories, and market their stars without fearing they will lose their big matches. The UFC cannot. Nobody is disputing that and it’s definitely the biggest obstacle in creating stars. It has to be organic.
Unfortunately you aren’t always guaranteed to get your money’s worth. She obviously hasn’t watched Payback.