Gleed’s Blog: Why WWE’s international expansion is smart business
By Haydn Gleed
In recent years, we have seen an influx of WWE stars from other countries outside North or South America, and for a company that is trying to expand to all four corners of the globe, I think it's one of the smartest moves they could make.
When I was a kid, The British Bulldogs were my favourite tag team. Partly because the dynamic of the high flying, technical wrestler in Dynamite Kid and the power house wrestler in Davey Boy Smith was just, in my eyes, the perfect combination.
It was also because they were British.
I am from the UK, so growing up, there was a slight disconnect between myself and the majority of the roster. I loved the entrance music and the values of Hulk Hogan, but I didn't connect with him fully as to me being a Real American wasn't something that was obviously on the cards for me.
Equally, I loved the passion and patriotism of Jim Duggan, but aside from a few ironic chuckles when he was in the UK making the crowd chant USA, there was no emotional attachment to the character.
It never made me less interested in the product, but being able to get behind the Bulldogs and later on Davey Boy Smith as a singles wrestler, enhanced my enjoyment.
In 2014, WWE is a global company and on the main roster you have the likes of Wade Barrett, Drew McIntyre, Cesaro, Alexander Rusev, Sheamus, Aksana, Layla & Paige who call a country in Europe home.
With Emma who hails from Australia, Justin Gabriel from South Africa and The Great Khali from India, you have a truly International feel to the roster.
Hell, the NXT champion is a guy from Newcastle Upon Tyne in the UK in the form of Adrian Neville.
Just like in any sport, your natural gravitation is towards your home team, or players from your town, state or country. You instantly feel, "that's our guy!" and you instantly want success for that person. This is just human nature.
This is where WWE's talent scouting has been smart for a number of years now. As they are becoming more and more of an International corporation as opposed to an American institution, they need to make the fans sitting at home, wherever that may be, to feel a connection with the product.
The next step, and I know this will be unpopular amongst my American readers, is to hold PPV's outside North America. Don't get me wrong, it's not something that logistically will happen anytime soon. For a PPV to air live from the UK in North America at the same time as it does now, , the show would have to run from 1am to 4am in the morning over here. For many reasons that won't happen.
But with the network, and the way technology is moving forward, I can see a time within the next 10 years when traditional PPV's will be a thing of the past. The PPV, or events, could be run at a reasonable hour oversees and then be available to watch either live, or people could avoid spoilers and watch the PPV at the same time they have been accustomed to, on the network.
For me this is a natural move. When SummerSlam was held in the UK in 1992, there was such a huge buzz about the event. Every commercial channel was touting tickets, wrestling was the cool thing for the duration of the build up, and there was more interest from the British public then I can remember before or since.
How many of the UK fans of my age are only wrestling fans because they were exposed to the product in '92 when it was held at Wembley Stadium? How many of those fans would never have found professional wrestling and wouldn't be enjoying WWE today?
I'm not suggesting that one of the "top 3 or 4" PPV's are held outside the US, but 1 of the main PPV's could be held somewhere new in the world every year.
Can you imagine how more meaningful it would be if Battleground was held in Australia for their first live PPV event? It would give a boast to a PPV that would otherwise wise feel like a vanilla B show, you would be guaranteed a full house with a rabid enthusiastic audience and the buzz created in the country would drive a potential increase in network subscriptions in that part of the world.
WWE will always be an American company, and its roots firmly imbedded in American culture and beliefs, and long may that continue. However, they are taking the right and smart moves to make the rest of the world feel included.
If you want to chat Wrestling, British football or shoot the breeze with me, tweet away. Always happy to have a conversation. Either hit me up on twitter @haydngleed or via email at email@example.com
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