In the so-called 'New Era', WWE has positioned itself as a content provider akin to Netflix, Amazon and Disney. Though television ratings plummet, Network subscriptions gently rise, suggesting that people are still willing to broadly invest in the output, if not always in the most timely fashion.
It's been been part of a careful move away from wrestling's old star-driven system, where headline heroes were 'draws' and the best heels got their main event payday up against the top babyface. Now, fans pay for a ticket to 'WWE' and keep their fingers crossed that the performers they like will end up on the show.
To the company's credit, they've made it so most will enjoy their night, even if their favourite wrestler isn't on the bill. But the re-engineering of the formula has scythed through the episodic television that was once the organisation's bedrock.
In his 1997 Attitude Era address, Vince McMahon infamously derided the 'passé' adage of 'good guys' and 'bad guys', then promptly became his own territory's biggest heel against his most profitable face.
It's no coincidence that Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mr McMahon created so many memorable, money-spinning moments. It may sometimes have been at the expense of his colleagues' own trajectory, but exactly as Vince channelled his inner evil, Austin understood more than most how to protect his aura as a hero. As a recent guest on his podcast, here's hoping Bayley soaked up some wisdom on how to do the same.
Square eyes on a square head, trained almost exclusively to Pro Wrestling, Sunderland AFC & Paul Rudd films. Responsible for 'Shocking Plans You Won't Believe Actually Happened', some of the words in our amazing Wrestling bookazines (both available at shop.whatculture.com), and probably every website list you read that praised Kevin Nash.