When the idea to bring back ECW several years ago was bounced around, fans, such as myself, were optimistically cautious. After all, Vince had this tendency to utterly ruin any potentially big money-making gimmicks that he wasn’t directly responsible for creating. Look no further than the WCW buyout, the subsequent Invasion angle and the eventual recreation of the nWo. At least in the case of WCW, he could’ve dragged that story line out for years, instead of the few months he let it exist before completely destroying it.
As a quick side note, I’m not a business major, but it never made sense as to why he would only buy WCW so he could tell his audience how terrible they still were. The company no longer existed. In fact, he spent several million to acquire what was left of it, and he still continued to trash it. But, that’s a rant that’s pretty much pointless anymore.
Anyway, back to ECW. Vince bought that one, too. It came with a built-in audience that was completely different from the one he was already attracting. So, it seems logical to cater to that different audience in order to grow your overall audience. But, that has never been Vince’s way.
Vince’s ego got in the way, as it often does. He didn’t create ECW, therefore in his mind, it wasn’t really successful. Forget the success of the Rise and Fall of ECW DVD. Forget the success of the first ECW One Night Stand that he ran. Forget the crowd constantly chanting “ECW” during the big spots (something he took credit for even though fans had been doing it for years).
And Vince did forget it, or blatantly ignored, the differences that set ECW a part from his company in the first place. The fans didn’t, though, and really wanted to give Vince the benefit of the doubt when his ECW debuted on the then-Sci Fi network. Ratings pushed the 3.0 mark, which was pretty much unheard of on that network. The fans wanted to give it a chance, hoping that the organization, even if in name only, would still have some semblance of the company they remembered.
Well, fast forward a couple of years later, add to that Vince’s vision of the business, and ratings have not only plummeted, hitting just a 0.8 this past Tuesday, but now there’s talk of frustration at Syfy and a complete rebranding of the show.
No surprise here at all, either. No network is happy to see a 60-70% drop in ratings. So, now there’s talk of dropping the brand completely, maybe in favor of a show solely dedicated to developmental talents, instead of being partially dedicated to developmental talents like it currently is. Plus, there’s talk that the ECW initials will be dropped, a move that, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I’d actually agree with. Once Vince’s vision took over, the show stopped being “extreme” anyway.
Regardless, though, big changes are likely ahead for the one-time “extreme” WWE brand, and Vince, though he’d never admit it, if he even realizes it at all, has once again left money on the table by not realizing someone else in the industry actually had a good idea.