Many of us are guilty of working ourselves into the ground. We put in long hours often sacrificing our personal lives, and quite frankly our mental and physical health, in the process. Of course, this work ethic can lead to success in careers. You want to be viewed as reliable, always there and available to help out when the company is in a bind. There is no place for sickness or letting exhaustion take hold. The same ideals run across the board in a wide range of professions like WWE superstar. Only they don't accrue vacation time or clock in and out.
These men and women of the ring travel the globe wrestling in city after city, town after town. They are television stars who don't have the luxury of a break before new episodes call for a return to set. They are also athletes who don't get the chance away from the field or court. If a WWE contracted talent isn't on the road, they are promoting the company through appearances and media obligations. You say no or turn down an opportunity, there is the feeling in the back of the head that you might have done detrimental career damage or will never be asked again. It's an endless cycle one doesn't get off unless they put in a special request or are sidelined with an injury.
Conditions have certainly improved compared to the age of the territories, double shots, wrapping any wound up with a bandage and getting ready for the next event. But can it be better? The question is does it have to be the way things are now? Can there be an off-season just like any other sport or form of entertainment.
These are questions that came back into the conversation during a recent interview Roman Reigns did with TalkSPORT while promoting the announcement WrestleMania 36 was coming to Tampa. Reigns, who recently returned from his battle with leukemia, gave the common response/tagline that there is no off-season in WWE like most sports or any kind of entertainment or competition.
"I think if we could make it work, it would give a great benefit to our performers and our fans as well," he said. "It would definitely give our performers another couple of months if not a full quarter to rest and recover, not only just from a physical standpoint, but creatively."
The main eventer makes some good points. An off-season would have a number of benefits. The pro wrestling mentality is to go, go, go. And if you don't there is fear you could be forgotten and/or left behind. Pro wrestlers are so good at their jobs we would never know how rundown they might be. Early flights, late car drives, hotel beds, quick meals, there is no way this grind doesn't take its toll.
It all boils down to the fact that, yes, they are human. A few weeks to recharge the batteries, reconnect with family and just take a step back could do wonders. The superstars might come back refreshed ready to take their game to another level. They may come back with a clearer mind not living with possible guilt of leaving their children or significant others for long periods of time.
There are companies offering substantial contracts. The independent scene is stronger than ever. Surely, there are those who might at least think about what it would be like outside the proverbial bubble. And motivation for the change could be that they are burnt out and want a lighter schedule. This might be one way for WWE to help sway them back in their direction. A gesture and message they don't have to be Brock Lesnar for them to work with them on shaving off some dates.
There is also potential positive creative reasons for an off-season as well. With three touring brands and a robust roster of signings, WWE is not hurting for talent. In fact, even with all the hours of television, they've run into the problem of being able to use all of them in meaningful roles. WWE has one of the deepest rosters in quite some time. It spans across the board, even considering who is on NXT, NXT UK and 205 Live. Do an NXT week spotlighting top tier representatives in a match or two, which can give new audiences a reason to watch this brand. Out of the three hours, Raw can certainly spare a few minutes. If the push is for the developmental brand to be considered more than that perception-wise, this is a way to go.
It's when you see those moments with everyone standing out on the entrance ramp where you think, "Where has Heath Slater been? The B-Team, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, all quite good, but I don't see them regularly. What ever happened to Mickie James, Nikki Cross and Dana Brooke? What are they really doing with Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, SAnitY?" The list goes on and on.
Rotating certain names out for time-off leaves the opportunity for others to step up. Fresh matches and stories, newer faces in different situations and interactions, can give the product a shot of rejuvenation. Often times it feels to viewers they are seeing the same matches with the same people in the same position week after week. This can help keep things moving along. Absence also makes the heart grow fonder. Fans love welcoming back their favorites when they haven't been around for a certain period of time.
WWE is a billion-dollar company and didn't become a sports entertainment juggernaut by accident. So maybe if it isn't broke, nothing has to be fixed? However, I think an off-season is worth exploring further. The infrastructure would have to change on many fronts. They have to reevaluate contracts, talk to partners, shareholders and sponsors and schedule countless meetings to take a broad look at their overall business structure. Though there are more out-of-this-world ideas that have bene made into reality.
And I'm not talking about doing these mental and physical furloughs around one of the big events like WrestleMania where it's all hands-on deck. But I do feel an off-season is worth pursuing as the impact would be good on all sides if done the right way That and it's something the company can have in the PR cannon to further demonstrate they genuinely care about those they employ.
Tell us what you think. Should WWE provide an off-season to its superstars? If so, how would you structure it?