While doing promotional work in India to promote WWE Network, which recently became available to the country, former WWE World Heavyweight Champion and incredibly popular independent star Daniel Bryan gave an interview where he offered his opinion on some of the problems WWE has been facing. Recently, falling ratings (the most recent Raw slipped under 3 million viewers for the third hour) and a perceived lack of creativity have led to a worry that WWE hasn’t created enough big stars to carry the company. This problem has been exacerbated by many factors, including John Cena being absent from the promotion for most of the rest of the year, as well as serious injuries to Bryan, Randy Orton, and several others.
Currently, WWE is banking on Roman Reigns becoming a top star, potentially as early as this month’s Survivor Series Pay Per View, but attempts to push Reigns in the past have met with serious push-back from fans. In the meantime, support has been growing for several former independent stars who have ended up in WWE, including Cesaro, Dean Ambrose, and Kevin Owens, leading some to question if WWE is becoming increasingly unable to create their own stars, and will at some point be forced to rely on the more experienced independent wrestlers who developed their own followings during their career outside of WWE.
In this excerpt from the interview, Bryan offered his thoughts on why fans are tending to gravitate towards independent wrestlers instead of WWE’s carefully crafted Superstars:
I think it’s a natural evolution of what happens.
Because, RAW right now is three hours long, right? So what happens is, before, when RAW was two hours, you didn’t see many long matches, and there were separate brands. There was RAW and Smackdown!, and you didn’t see people on both shows very often.
Well now, we have a three hour RAW and two hour Smackdown!, so guys are wrestling long matches on both shows. And who’re going to stand out on that kind of platform? Guys who know how to be different in the ring, who can go out there and wrestle a 10, 12, 15 minute match twice a week, and not have the fans get bored by it.
Because realistically, if you take wrestlers from the previous generations, and if they had wrestled as much on television as we have, they would be over exposed. But then, you won’t like them as much.
That’s one of the biggest battles our generation faces; the previous generations’ battle was getting exposure, trying to get exposure. Now our battle is over exposure, and those who can handle over exposure the best are the ones who are popular, and incidentally, people who handle over exposure are the ones who’ve spent years wrestling in all the different places. So they know how to interact with people in different settings, and that kind of stuff.
So I think it is natural that the independent stars are the people coming up and doing very well.
You can read the rest of the interview right here.