Many have been calling for a WWE off-season for quite some time. How does it work? Rob has some ideas.
One of the highlights of the round of interviews that Roman Reigns did this past week was his support of having some kind of off-season for the wrestlers. Now that’s something I’ve seen kicked around on Twitter for a while now, especially when we hit one of those stretches where the injuries start piling up. 2015 and 2018 ended particularly bad on the injury front, to the point of seriously affecting the following year’s WrestleManias, and 2014 got derailed pretty bad towards the end as well. So given that three of the last five years saw a lot of people go down in the closing months it definitely makes sense to consider some kind of way to not have all the top guys and gals grinding out every weekend from Friday through the following Monday (and in the case of the Smackdown roster Friday through the following Tuesday) year round.
The only problem is: how do you do it? As bad as the schedule seems now this is actually the lightest it’s ever been; they used to do three or more weeknights plus double headers on Saturdays and Sundays, with significantly worse medical care and time off for injury. There’s a real question as to how you can lighten up the schedule any more than they have.
But that’s not all. There’s also the issue of getting guys and gals to agree to take time off in the first place. Missing a month or more, even for your own good, can be the difference in you getting a title program or missing a show like Money in the Bank or TLC where you have a chance to put on a memorable performance in a signature match. And that’s just for the top people who are sure to get something upon their return. For the mid and lower card people missing a month or two means losing precious TV time to better familiarize the audience with you, which can in turn affect future pushes or angles for you.
Imagine if Becky Lynch had been scheduled off in November and December of 2018; that would have totally changed the booking of her and Charlotte’s match at Evolution (Charlotte wins the title back then for sure) and would have had her off TV entirely right when the infamous Nia Jax punch happened. More than likely that means no Rumble win and no WrestleMania main event for her. Even if she was really worn down and needed a break really badly, you think she’s gonna just accept it right when she was reaching the hottest point of her career?
So…….what to do? We have to make a couple of big concessions first. One is that the company is running all year. The networks are paying for twelve months of programming, and a lot of that time is during months where TV is otherwise dormant and they can capitalize on less competition. RAW getting 2 to 3 million viewers in the middle of July and even up against Monday Night Football is a huge win for USA network, probably more so than during WrestleMania season, because those July numbers are happening when most everyone else’s are a fraction of what they usually get. That will apply to Smackdown as well, both for the next few months on USA and especially on FOX.
Wrestling is an out of sight, out of mind form of entertainment and they will never risk going dark for three months and giving people time to get into something else. The other concession is that during WrestleMania season it’s all hands on deck. You’d have to lock someone in prison to get them to forego a run during that time and the possibility of a WrestleMania moment and bonus. I don’t care what kind of physical condition Kofi Kingston is in right now there is no way that he’d have elected to go home given what’s on deck for him.
So…..what can we contemplate here?
House Show Relief
This is the first and easiest option, I think. Right now RAW runs house shows Friday through Sunday and Smackdown does them Friday through Monday. There’s no reason why you have to run the same lineup every night the whole weekend. They have enough people to swap people in and out so that some RAW guys can get one of those three nights off and the Smackdown guys can get one or two of those four straight nights off. Like you don’t have to run The Usos vs The Bar vs New Day four nights in a row.
Whoever’s holding the titles at the time will need to work more but you can swap out either of the other two teams for someone else or no one at all. Asuka vs Charlotte four nights straight and then one or both doing TV on the fifth night doesn’t need to happen; no reason you can’t mix in a different challenger one night and have Charlotte take on one of the other women a different night. You obviously can’t give all your important people the same night off but they have enough people to mix it up some now.
Time Off Of TV
This is a bit dicier. In theory you could write one of your top people off TV at a time so they can get a break, and put them back in as soon as they return. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and others like them can go away for a month and pick up right where they left off with no problem. The only issue is what happens if there’s a ratings dip. We’ve seen how things went on RAW when Roman was out with no end in sight. A month away may not hurt, and would help from a personal and creative standpoint, but will have a lot of people checking out until he returns. And on a three hour show like RAW one big absence can leave a crater sized hole.
As for the mid and lower card guys and gals, well a lot of them already get de facto breaks as it is when they get stuck in catering for weeks at a time. Kinda hard to say they need time off when they get a lot of it anyway. And given that any of them could get inserted into an angle at a moment’s notice I doubt you’re going to see them be all that eager to head home for a month and miss their chance. The only thing I can think of is to give all the major players one Monday or Tuesday night off a month. If need be you can tape some stuff with them so that they can still appear on the show. But longer stints away probably aren’t ever going to become a thing.
So those are my ideas. A wrestling off-season is something that is great in theory, but is a lot more difficult to execute in a way that does not hurt your business. I’m open to any ideas or suggestions you guys might have. I think that it is doable but it’s going to take a lot of people from Vince to the wrestlers to us as fans to change how they think.