Oh, WWE. It seems that whenever they try to address a problem, they just create new ones for themselves. Such is the case this past week, where the company managed to piss off not one, but both of its TV networks, FOX and the USA Network respectively. And just how did WWE manage to spit in the Kool-Aid of two major TV networks in such a short time? Well, it seems to have all started with the AEW debut of one Charles Montgomery Punk, or CM Punk as he's known professionally.
CM Punk's return to wrestling on AEW has made an immediate positive impact for the company in the form of big TV ratings for the episodes of Dynamite and Rampage that he's appeared on thus far and a big bump in ticket sales for upcoming events. And now according to Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, FOX, the home of WWE Smackdown, is none too pleased that WWE didn't make CM Punk a huge offer to return to the company and let him walk to their competitor.
Meltzer further explains that FOX had a very good relationship with CM Punk, stemming from his time as a host on WWE Backstage, which was mostly a FOX production about WWE and not a WWE vehicle (Punk hasn't worked with WWE directly since leaving in 2014). The network would have loved to have seen him back in WWE proper and staring on their weekly show on their airwaves, especially in the wake of the ratings success he has brought TNT and AEW.
Now of course this is kind of an unrealistic expectation on FOX's part, as everyone who knows the story of the demise of CM Punk and WWE's relationship knows that there was probably a better chance of Hulk Hogan receiving an award from the NAACP than Punk ever returning to WWE. But FOX is a Hollywood network and they think that like on virtually any Hollywood production, throw enough money at the problem and it suddenly goes away and that WWE should have simply offered to pay him an absurd amount of money, though that probably wouldn't have worked with someone as determined as CM Punk.
So to try and put out the fire with FOX, WWE rushed back both Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch at Summerslam last week, with both set to appear on the Smackdown brand going forward, which leads us to problem number two for WWE.
According to Andrew Zarian of the Mat Men Pro Wrestling Podcast, NBCUniversal and the USA Network, home of both Raw and NXT, is now pissed at the company and feeling slighted that they have loaded up the Smackdown roster while leaving them in the dust. USA hasn't been thrilled with WWE as of late anyway, due to Raw's ever-worsening ratings and the company's decision to weaken NXT down to strictly a developmental product with fewer stars.
The annual WWE Draft is set to take place in October and that could be used to balance out the rosters a bit, but right now, it's easy to see why NBCUniversal and USA feel second class when Smackdown has all of the company's marquee stars while their shows feature The Miz and John Morrison fighting over a water gun.
So despite record profits last year, the struggles continue for WWE with pleasing their fans and TV partners. Seeing as the company makes money despite itself, maybe they should focus on putting out a good product too, that way everyone is happy?
Ah, who am I kidding? As long as Vince McMahon is pleased with himself, we should all just shut up and smile, right?