The Offseason Question…

by Kevin D’Hooge

Given the surplus of injuries across the roster, it’s time for WWE to consider an offseason. Superstars such as Tyson Kidd, Rusev, Erick Rowan, Hideo Itami and Sami Zayn are all missing serious time due to injuries suffered in the ring.
Vince McMahon has long been known as a staunch advocate for running his company year round. Vince mentioned on the Stone Cold Podcast that no breaks in action are taken in the WWE schedule; the show must go on and on and on.
The WWE schedule involves working at least four shows a week across the globe, a physical exercise regimen and constant training.
The company also has a central mentality that encourages superstars to continue performing even while injured. CM Punk elaborated on this on The Art of Wrestling Podcast with Colt Cobana. Punk was unfit to continue performing, but was continually encouraged to perform on a nightly basis in part because of the “Show goes on” mentality.
A better schedule to follow would be those of professional organized sports: MLB, NBA, and NHL. These groups run 9 months out of the year. More physical sports like the NFL and UFC run shorter schedules. The NFL can last up to 5 months for some teams while each UFC fighter generally has a handful of fights a year at most.
There are certain superstars and athletes that are exceptions to wear and tear. John Cena, for instance, is barely missing from action. He even came back four months earlier than expected when he injured his tricep in 2013.
In the NBA Kobe Bryant maintains a “play through injury” mentality. This philosophy has largely worked for him, although controversial German blood therapy may or may not be to thank for that. With that being said, Kobe’s insistence on playing through injury has clearly had a negative effect on Dwight Howard.
Howard famously injured his back in 2012, the year before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. The offseason did not give him enough time to heal. When Dwight contemplated resting for a stretch during the 2012-2013 regular season, Kobe told ESPN, “We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal.” Howard has not reached the height of his Orlando Magic days since.
It’s fair to speculate that Vince McMahon feels the same way Kobe does about injuries. Vince famously abides by the idea that he would not force a superstar to do something he would not do. I just think that Vince is that far out in left field, that he wouldn’t say no to anything. I mean the guy signed off on his son-in-law doing this to him! Keep in mind these guys attend board room meetings nowadays on a seemingly daily basis.
If I were in charge of WWE I would run a 9 month schedule beginning in July and ending in March. The superstars would open up during the heart of the summer and have a month worth of shows and Battleground (or whatever the July PPV will be called in the future) to warm up. This would set the stage for Summerslam in August.
The rest of the pay per views could remain as scheduled. The season would culminate with Wrestlemania in March. This would bring much needed closure to storylines and maybe even create anticipation for future ones. Ending the season at Wrestlemania adds special meaning to the event and would give extra swag to the big winners of the night. Imagine carrying the WWE title around during the 3 month break and headlining the season premiere of Raw. Rasheed Wallace sure can!
We would forgo the night after Wrestlemania Raw and wait until July. If you think that event is great now, imagine what it would be like with 3 months of anticipation and marketing! It would be a show like no other, a true spectacle of a season premiere.
Allowing a 3 month rest period allows superstars to heal up, consider growth for their characters, it allows WWE Creative time to write more intelligent story-arcs, and most importantly we don’t have to see the same old matches on Raw and Smackdown every week. A break would be nice for all parties involved.
What could WWE do in the offseason you ask? The possibilities are endless: NXT could also run a 9 month schedule from October-June. This would fill the WWE gap between April-June. The first 6 months of NXT could run on the WWE Network while the final 3 month buildup could take the Raw spot on USA. Year in review commemoratives or other similar original WWE programming could air in place of Smackdown, and in all likelihood, would probably draw similar ratings. Superstars and on camera personalities could take to Youtube, social media, or talk shows to draw attention to their characters, the company and future storylines during breaks.
WWE and its superstars desperately need an offseason. The positives outweigh the negative. This would be their best long term plan in my opinion in order to preserve the brand and to expand its audience. NXT stars could take center stage and the main roster talent and creative team would have a 3 month rest period to focus on writing and marketing. Do you agree with me or think I’m off my rocker? Sound off in the comment section.

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