WWE is always trying to boost its subscriber numbers for the WWE Network, always making a big push for new subscribers around their tentpole pay-per-views like WrestleMania and SummerSlam. At this year’s WrestleMania, WWE unveiled all the upcoming shows, tournaments, and specials coming to the Network, while also touting that you can watch all the PPV events and weekly shows.
The WWE Network provides solid value, but there’s one thing that I think could take it to the next level in today’s landscape of streaming and immediate content. The return of the Hardcore Championship.
WWE loves nostalgia plays and is always trying to hold on to some bits of the Attitude Era, so why not bring back the one thing from that era that is tailor made for the Network. The Hardcore Championship could be defended anywhere, at any time as the only 24/7 title in WWE and they now have a streaming service that they could blast out a live match to the millions (and MILLIONS) of WWE Network subscribers by sending out a notification to people’s phones that the Hardcore Championship was about to be defended, live, exclusively on the Network in two or five or however many minutes.
Hell, call it the Network or 24/7 Championship for all I care if you want to avoid the Hardcore name, but the premise of the belt was way ahead of its time. Rather than showing the title defense on tape, you could do it live and have a true element of surprise for fans that would be phenomenal. Just imagine if back in the day you could have gotten a text notification that Crash Holly was about to have to defend his title in the parking lot of the circus, because the Mean Street Posse had disguised themselves and a ref as clowns to jump him.
You’d be all over that and it’d provide more live, unique programming that’s actual wrestling exclusively to Network subscribers. My dream right now is that they put the Hardcore belt on Braun Strowman while he lives in the purgatory that is being an unbeatable monster that they aren’t ready to put into the main title picture yet. The best thing Strowman’s got going for him right now is that he destroys stuff and it’s always at its best when he’s backstage, so why not take that to the extreme and let him defend a title 24/7 out in the “real world” and break stuff out there.
Imagine you’re at your desk at 2 p.m. on a Thursday and a notification buzzes that Braun Strowman is about to defend the championship because Dean Ambrose has dragged a ref with him to confront Braun at a Piggly Wiggly in Sarasota, Florida. You would 100 percent fire up the Network on your phone to watch that, or at the worst watch when you got home.
In recent years, Chuck Taylor, Joey Ryan, and others have proven that fans still get interested and invested in a 24/7 title, but those wrestlers usually only have social media at their disposal. Imagine a series of one-minute (or whatever) matches that can happen at any time, and you’ll get that nice little WWE alert on your phone to tune in instantly.
Now, there are certainly some logistical hurdles to overcome in doing this, but I’m sure WWE could find a way to do it and do it well. It’d bring another dimension to being a Network subscriber and would be a pretty amazing way to keep people engaged with your product from Wednesday through Sunday, when a lot of your fans tune out post-Raw and Smackdown. Bring back the Hardcore title, put it on Braun, let him throw people around in bars and hotels while they’re on the road to house shows and watch your subscriber numbers climb, WWE.