Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WWE Wanted NJPW Content on The Network

NJPW on the Network? WWE tried to make it happen
Via Bushiroad (in Japanese, translation via @e_key_oide)

For as much of an out-of-control tire fire WWE is right now on the main roster, nearly every other facet of its production would grade positively on some scale. A lot of that goodwill comes from The Network, which has a decent pay-per-view product, archives of every WWE, ECW, and WCW pay-per-view ever, original programming worth watching, and of course, NXT. As fate would have it, WWE tried adding the other worldwide promotion that has enough corporate backing and penetration to compete with it, only with a ton more critical acclaim, to said Network. Bushiroad President Takaaki Kidani penned a column talking about various things, including an offer from WWE to have New Japan Pro Wrestling content hosted on its over-the-top streaming service. Bushiroad is the parent company that owns NJPW. Kidani rejected the offer, however, because he sees himself as a competitor, not a collaborator, to WWE, and because he doesn't want any NJPW superstars to run the risk of being bought out by WWE.

The move is a bummer for fans who want easier access to premium NJPW content, but otherwise, it was the absolute right call for Bushiroad and NJPW to make. WWE needs competition, whether abroad or at home, and honestly, companies shouldn't feel like they need to pay protection fees to WWE in the form of content mining at the cost of questionable gains for the companies being farmed. It's one thing for EVOLVE/WWN Live, the indie conglomerate with a name but with little market penetration, to partner with WWE. It's another for a promotion like NJPW that has as much history and sizable global stature to basically capitulate to WWE.

It's also a sign that WWE is a company that is still trying to grow an audience and is very much looking to do that through the Network. Low ratings are the rule of the day, and yeah, I guess you can get panicked about them if you're not a WWE shareholder if you're predisposed to rooting for rich dudes to make money or not. But if enough people have reason to subscribe to the Network, then the ad rates can stand to drop a little bit before anyone really needs to lose their shit. Either way, it's an interesting time in wrestling, and one that looks to be predating some upheaval...