Chris Featherstone from Sports Illustrated and the Pancakes and Powerslams Show had the pleasure to interview former WWE Tag Team Champion Matt (Evan Bourne) Sydal on his show. They had a great conversation, talking about the current state of professional wrestling, why he has no qualms about WWE letting him go from his contract last year, and much more.
Chris posed a question to him about why professional wrestling is experiencing such a decline in ratings, and here is what he had to say about that:
I understand that ratings are important. You have to realize WWE’s contract. They’re not getting paid from advertising money. USA makes that money. WWE gets paid by USA, they get paid a lot of money, and the money increases every year. Ratings aren’t the most important thing to them. And, let’s just be honest: ratings aren’t as precise as internet clicks and time spent on the website. If you look at that, WWE is crushing everyone. So, I think ratings might not be the best metric with which to rate wrestling in this day and age. But it does mean they’ve got big distribution.
Let’s face it: when we were crazy into wrestling, there were 20 million people on Monday nights watching wrestling. So what you have are 17 million lagged wrestling fans. People who connect to it somewhere but haven’t found an inspiration or a cultural connection to it. That’s been missing because wrestling’s been dominated by one person. It’s as if every song on the radio had to go through the same producer. You would say that this is always the same thing because it’s always produced by the same place.
What there should be is more middle ground. There’s room for five or six of these federations because people love wrestling. People like you and I connect to it from a nostalgic view, from respecting the athleticism and enjoying the characters the story, and the live-action production that is pro wrestling. It’s a special form of entertainment, and people miss [the ability to] go to a show and have fun.
It’s more about the feeling and how you felt when it happened. Were you laughing with your friends? Were you having a good time? That’s what makes wrestling good. It’s not the wrestling itself. It’s the experience that people have. And we need to work on what kind of experience we’re giving fans at these events and what kind of experience they want. Are we looking for new fans?