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WWE Diva Search 2004 - Failure of 2004?



25 August 2004

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Pimping ain't easy?

They pout. They preen. They giggle. They wiggle. No-one cares. They gather together for warmth. And perhaps to avoid the tumbleweeds. At this point, they could all lie on their backs and fire ping-pong balls at Eric Bischoff, and we still wouldn’t care.

DivaSearch 2004 is the WWE failure of the year so far. Each time a segment airs, the viewing figures drop. This is a disaster for the WWE; the DivaSearch was announced by Vince himself, indicating that it was a big idea, one that they felt had potential; it’s not just a programming embarrassment, it’s failure has much bigger implications.

The WWE is narrow. As far as wealth creation goes, it only has the ticket sales, merchandising and PPV buys of it’s core wrestling business to feed it. There are no movie deals, or a separate music division. So, with wrestling buy rates down, and management either unwilling or unable to make the changes to correct it, the future of the WWE is looking a little bare.

They need another revenue stream. Vince has tried to diversify before, with expensive, high profile blunders like the World Bodybuilding Federation and the XFL. These were separate entities with big start up costs, and no way to mitigate the losses. But Vince has learnt his lesson – like Hollywood, he’s fallen back on a tried and tested formula. He’s combining two winners.

Of all the branch projects, the reality show has been the most successful. I know that “Tough Enough” is on the slippery slope of ratings due to over-familiarity, but the idea has legs, and uses enough WWE resources to keep the costs down. And sex. Yes, sex. It sells. And the Diva’s peddle it like no-one else in the WWE, they make fans put their hands in their pockets (to pay for PPV’s, of course!)

The WWE has already trailed this idea, with the truly objectionable “Girls Gone Wild” PPV; I sat through it (there was some wrestling I wanted to see on the DVD after it, honest), and it was boring, and very unsexual, but it did provide lots of nudity and sex games, and it was cheap. The winner got a few thousand pounds, whilst the WWE got a separate source of revenue; potentially millions for a few thousand – you don’t have to be Stephen Hawking, do you?

Of course, the winner of DivaSearch will get a lot more than a few thousand – 200 of them to be exact, a figure guaranteed to arouse the green-eyed monster in their dressing room sisters. What she probably won’t get is the chance to create her own personality (providing she actually has one in the first place), because she’ll be folded into the branded programmes and become another ringside decoration. And at the moment, each DivaSearch segment is almost an afterthought – an indication that Vinnie is losing faith in the girls already.

And that is not how you create a revenue stream. The Divas have the potential to make a lot of money for the WWE, but Vince has to decide what he wants them to be first. Some are clearly there to wrestle (Molly, Lita) whilst others are there to tease (Dawn Marie, Stacy Keibler), but he allows a cross-over with alarming regularity, and not just the pseudo-sexual cat fights, proper matches. This muddies their appeal and gives us mixed signals about how to react to them – Vince needs to have the Spaldings (c. Vince Russo) to completely separate them from the wrestling product, and sell them on sex alone. Only then will the money flow.

The WWE already controls them as if they are Playboy models; going further than Heff ever would by controlling their shape through breast and facial augmentation. They are told how to shake their booty, which direction to shake it and for how long – the cheap thrills are firmly controlled by the management. I get the feeling that the WWE see themselves as cut-price Hughies already.

Yes, the Divas are already treated as money-making objects, not even allowed to develop their own characteristics, beyond the fact that they all LOVE turning men on. The WWE should stop pussyfooting around (yes, I used it on purpose), and create another separate entity for them – with their own programme, not referenced by wrestling at all but pure softcore porn and tease; in fact, just what they do in the squared circle but as their own project. I’m sure it would sell, particularly with a reality TV element.

Now, I’m not condoning wholesale pornography (although wholesale would be cheaper…), and they would have to have some intelligence to make me interested, but at least by giving them their own show, no-one who wants to see wrestling would stumble across them.

The WWE would have a good money-maker for the lean years which almost certainly lurk ahead, and wrestling fans would get a little extra programme times for matches. I don’t really care how the WWE boys get their fingers dirty, as long as it isn’t the fans who get screwed.

The Cynic

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