From “NITRO: The Incredible Rise and Inevitable Collapse of Ted Turner’s WCW” by Guy Evans
“The final point was of particular importance to Bischoff. An earlier discussion with Siegel led to the implementation of a research project to devise Nitro’s creative formula (Ted Turner, presumably, was kept in the dark). The outcomes of the study were clear-WCW’s target audience wanted a feeling of spontaneity to permeate the new program. They wanted ‘can’t miss TV’, a drastically different television format (as compared to the WWF strategy of giving away ‘squash matches’, i.e. bouts where established superstars predictably beat up on hapless underdogs), and an avoidance of the tried-and-true tactic of reserving the major, often more unpredictable match-ups for pay-per-view.”
People want to be surprised. It does become boring knowing that titles will only change hands at PPV events.
If there was a title match on a Monday night show, you were just waiting for someone to run in and cause a disqualification.
Some creative lessons…
- There’s room to differentiate (even if both products looks like giant men in scripted fights): WWE definitely felt different from WCW. Even when DX was a bit of a clone of nWO, it was more punk rock where Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were going for west coast gangster rap. One bald star in black tights talked his ass off and now, of course, has a wrestling podcast. The other bald star in black tights built one of the hottest runs in wrestling without talking much at all.
- Better to create a category than to compete in SEO for the term “productivity”: Dickie Bush and Nicolas Cole (pretty solid starts for wrestling names, by the way) created Ship 30 for 30 for learning to write online. One of their main lessons is getting more and more and more specific when you can. That’s in terms of individual essays and in terms of your own set of category buckets. Vince McMahon couldn’t compete with major sports but he became a billionaire leading “sports entertainment”.
- Don’t save your best idea for Wrestlemania: It might never come around. You’ll have other good ideas. Especially if you’re working in an online medium, you probably have plenty of chances to launch things. Go ahead and get that good idea out there in some way. (1) It might not be good and it’s better to find out now. (2) If it’s the execution that matters, you can really just run that idea back later. Nobody will notice if you aren’t big enough in the first place. (3) I promise, you’ll have more good ideas and a better one will come along.
Some of the most memorable title changes happened on Monday nights.
Some of your most popular content will be the least expected.