Most wrestling fans stay for the wrestling in 2018.
Those wrestling fans aren’t going anywhere; WWE’s key demographic skews heavily towards adult males who likely grew up on the product and have forged a lifelong connection to it. To them - us - WWE is an institution akin to family. It is almost literally a part of us. Even in these barren times, we check the various goings-on almost subconsciously by opening up the browser app on our Smartphones. Much like the WWE’s product, we are bound by routine. To underscore this, WWE’s primary audience is comprised of males over 50 years of age. They have lived through times far more meaningful, far more buzz-worthy, far more meritocratic. If nothing else, it is too daunting to enter another realm of entertainment. It is, almost literally, an old habit.
This is key. This is the mentality WWE, in particular, preys upon. We aren’t going anywhere. No matter how much WWE prods us, we will not be moved.
WWE knows we are bound to wrestling. They “super-serve” content to us accordingly as part of the overarching company strategy. And, in order to convince us to consume yet more content - out of exasperation - the company intentionally deprives us of good wrestling with a new, subverted meta approach to generating heat.
The most loathed performers in wrestling are not those who insult us. Those insults, when delivered with the deadpan panache of an Elias, are at least entertaining. No: we loathe, and WWE knows that we loathe, those perceived as being terrible performers. With our so-called smartened-up sensibility, we appreciate the work of the best heels, rendering them ineffective at drawing heat. Instead, in a fruitless attempt to control the reaction of an increasingly defiant fanbase, WWE pushes ineffective performers. It all makes some kind of terrible sense - but nowhere enough.
Consider Carmella, the reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion. She is incompetent at best; at worst, she infects those around her, like Charlotte Flair, who appear positively hapless when unable to escape her basic and poorly-applied holds. That’s not even mentioning Asuka. Her prospects are so bleak that it borders on the disrespectful at this juncture. It’s almost certainly pointless.