It’s no secret that WWE is disappointed with the number of WWE Network subscribers thus far. Start-up costs have been monumental, which was expected, and the company’s business numbers took it on the chin this past quarter.
WWE is doing everything they can to try and sell the network. They’ve already instituted several free one-week trials, which is a sound strategy early in the game, but comes off as desperate the more they go to the well. They are now offering a deal where individuals who help sign others up will get $25 towards WWE merchandise for each subscription. There’s a limit of 10 signups for a total of $250. That speaks volumes in and of itself.
With Daniel Bryan temporarily on the shelf, it’s going to be hard to sell people on the next two “Special Events.” Bryan will miss WWE Payback on Jun. 1, and nobody is sure whether he’ll be able to wrestle at WWE Money in the Bank on Jun. 29. With WWE hurting for subscribers, Bryan’s injury is not welcome news.
As of right now, Bryan is still the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. No mention was made on Monday Night Raw as to whether or not he would be stripped of the title. If he’s allowed to keep the gold, WWE Payback probably won’t be successful. Even in today’s wrestling scene, it’s hard to sell a PPV without your world champion or even a world title match.
It’s risky to keep the belt on Bryan for a few reasons. We still don’t know how long he’s going to be out of action, although the initial prognosis is 6-to-8 weeks. It’s possible that he’ll need more time away once the surgery is completed on Thursday, or he could be cleared to compete sooner than we expect. Everything is still up in the air, and my gut tells me this is why the company has been hesitant to make a decision regarding the status of the championship.
This is the last thing WWE wanted. At a time when they can’t afford to lose subscribers, it appears that the next couple months are going to be a slog.