Edge and Christian welcome Tommy Dreamer and Shane “Hurricane” Helms to the show to discuss social media’s impact on the business of professional wrestling.
Dreamer points out that after the emergence of the dirt sheets in the 1980’s and 1990’s, ECW became a trailblazer in the way they utilized the newly established internet to interact with fans through message boards. Helms agrees, saying that while WWE is often behind the ball when it comes to utilizing new technology, ECW was way ahead of the game with their use of the internet in the mid 90’s.
Edge wonders if WWE is often behind the ball on this type of technology on purpose. Perhaps they like to wait and see if new technologies work before they start investing millions of dollars into it. He also points out that when WWE finally does pull the trigger on something, they go all in.
Dreamer’s not sure WWE would voluntarily be behind the ball with new technologies like Edge suggests because they’ve tried certain things in the past. At one point in the early 2000’s Shane McMahon was the head of a technology department within WWE, but Dreamer admits that it was hard for Shane to get the company’s full support to invest in certain technologies.
Edge recalls being a young fan in Canada many years ago, waiting for Bill Apter’s wrestling magazines to arrive on newsstands every month. There was no other way for wrestling fans to get information back in those days, and that’s hard to wrap your mind about now. Helms points out that by the time fans would get the information in those magazines, it may have been completely out of date.
Dreamer points out that multiple wrestlers have utilized social media to get themselves over – Zach Ryder is a great example of that. Colt Cabana has also utilized new technology in a very innovative way, introducing the wrestling world to podcasting.
The entire landscape of the wrestling world changed when WWE introduced the WWE Network. They’re now driving all of their fans to the Network instead of selling PPVs which is a huge shift in their business model. Dreamer points out that his promotion, House of Hardcore, is now airing live on Twitch, where he can interact with fans as the show is airing which is just incredible.
Much like Zach Ryder years prior, guys like Chris Jericho and Matt Hardy have utilized social media to push their wrestling angles or to interact with fans in character, and they’ve both been very good at that. Dreamer points out that fans are smarter than ever today, with all the podcasts and information that’s available, so talents need to work harder to make the business work.
Helms points out that new technology has done a lot of good for the wrestling business, but it has done some bad as well. The wrestling business used to try to hide a lot of stuff, but that’s not the case anymore. Some fans seem more interested in the behind the scenes “crap” than the actual product that the wrestlers are putting out. Nonetheless, a fan is a fan, and as long as they’re interested in the business that’s a positive according to Helms.
Helms, Edge and Christian all agree that when they came up in business it was very difficult to make a good living. There was only two or three places to work, even if you were lucky enough to survive training. Nowadays it’s so much easier to make a living on the indies as it has become a legitimate alternative to WWE. You can look at the work that Cody Rhodes is doing as proof of this.
Edge says he would love to be getting into the business now because there are so many more avenues to have success. Helms says he’d be in trouble if he was coming up now because he was crazy when he was younger and he’d probably be on TMZ every other day.
Helms remembers talking to Stephanie and other officials when he worked in WWE about Twitter being the next big thing, but they didn’t believe him. Edge recalls attending meetings with WWE officials urging all wrestlers to open Twitter accounts. Edge fought this tooth and nail because he wanted to protect the mystique of his character.
Christian didn’t want to be involved with any of it at all. WWE issued Facebook pages for all their talents at one point, and Christian received an email with his profile and password included. He was somewhat upset by this because he had no intention of using it and after telling them that, WWE shut his page down. Several months later he decided to give it a try and quickly realized that he controlled what and how much information is shared, and that made him more comfortable using it.
That sums up this week’s episode of E&C’s Pod of Awesomeness. You can listen to the show yourself anytime here, and I’ll catch ya next week for another recap!