One of my favorite past times is watching Xavier Woods and other WWE personnel on YouTube. However, I’m not watching Xavier Woods and the other Superstars playing games. More precisely, I’m watching a guy named Austin Creed, Prince Pretty, Big Swiss, Miss Bliss and many others playing video games. That’s because the channel I’m referring to is UpUpDownDown.
Austin Creed’s UpUpDownDown must have made a significant mark in the wrestling industry and in the WWE as, before, I couldn’t find any other WWE Superstar doing such an extra-curricular activity like this. What makes this even more surprising is Austin Creed didn’t really do this with the WWE’s help at the start. It was almost quite the contrary as he had to negotiate with the WWE to allow other WWE Superstars to join in and *gasp* be their real selves, free from their kayfabe personas.
Thanks to his persistence, UpUpDownDown has over 2 millions subscribers (including myself) and it seems to have started a short-lived trend with other WWE wrestlers as they also started their own Youtube and, more importantly, Twitch gaming channels. I say “short-lived” because the WWE mandated for all WWE performers to either link all the revenues they make from Twitch streaming to the company or shut them down. Most of them decided to shut down their Twitch channels rather than see the WWE leech off them. Of course, you can bet some WWE Superstars, such as Paige/Saraya are upset for a myriad of reasons.
Without a doubt, I’m siding with the WWE Twitch streamers. I mean, they’re already in the public eye and are used to entertaining thousands of fans. So I don’t see the big deal with this. However, it looks like the WWE did so they went and gave an ultimatum and, well, here were are.
I do want to be unbiased and try and understand the WWE as to why they did this and, to be fair, I’m sure they have their reasons. The problem is I’ve been doing my research and I can’t suss what made the WWE do this. I can speculate, however, and I did come up with two possible reasons. Unfortunately, none of them are all that good.
The first reason is the WWE wants a bigger share of the revenue their WWE Superstars make from their Twitch sessions. The rationale they can give is that, if it weren’t for the WWE, they wouldn’t be successful Twitch streams in the first place. I can see their point of view with this… but at a really weird and crooked angle. The WWE can basically say they’re only getting the huge number of views because they’re WWE Superstars. So, it stands to reason they should get more than a small chunk of the change they’re making. They’re only successful on Twitch because they are WWE Superstars, after all.
The easiest way to follow this line of reasoning is, well, kinda like YouTube’s busted ad revenue system. We all know about “fair use” and how you can use a clip of a video or music in your own YouTube video as long as it’s “transformative” in some way. I don’t mean changing the color grain on a video or a note in a song. I mean using it in some manner to illustrate a point or something like that. Even if the media is used in a “transformative” way, there will still be companies who will gladly try to monetize it and take all your ad revenue because you used something like a few seconds. It’s complicated so here’s a video sarcastically explaining the general idea.
Anyway, this is what I see the WWE might be trying to do. They basically “created” the WWE Superstar so, in their minds, they’re more than entitled to whatever they make now, right? Of course, this doesn’t take into account the personality of the Twitch streamers who have to cultivate the fanbase and grow it. Oh, and it’s also downright dehumanizing if you think about it for a millisecond.
The more plausible reason the WWE may have for shutting down their Superstars Twitch streams is more creative control over their performers. Oh, they can have their YouTube accounts operating since the WWE can review the content and ask the Superstars to modify the footage or even take the video down if might embarrass the company.
Twitch, however, is a different beast altogether. It’s generally a platform for live streaming so anything can happen. Fans can even chat directly with the Twitch gamers, meaning the WWE Superstar, directly and ask them questions. These questions may be answered honestly but not in a way the WWE would like and there would be no take-backies. In this scenario, the WWE just can’t entrust their performers to give the “approved” answers or perform in a way that would meet their standards if they’re not fed to them directly. Everyone knows that, once something is on the Internet, it’s there forever in one form or another. Paige/Saraya knows a thing or two about that and that includes the videos she tried to delete off her Twitch channel.
I can kind of understand this as it’s like when a famous actor gets caught doing something terrible in public and a movie studio has to go into damage control because of it. The WWE could be trying to avoid this kind of incident which could happen while they’re Twitch streaming.
This is still, in my opinion, kind of dumb. WWE Superstars are always going to be in the public eye and, in this age of social media, it only makes sense for them to use things like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and, yes, even Twitch to connect with their fans. So trying to curb it feels nonsensical, especially since they still allow them to use other social media sites like the ones mentioned above.
In fact, because the Superstars have become incredibly versed at using social media, the WWE is actually hamstringing themselves as they’re eliminating a potential way to get new fans to watch their product. Let’s take UpUpDownDown as an example. As Austin Creed was given an enormous amount of leeway with his YouTube channel, he was allowed to participate in video gaming tournaments and programs. He even had The New Day crossover with Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks from New Japan at E3!
Now, while there are some overlap when it comes to wrestling fans and gamers, not all gamers are wrestling fans and vice versa. So when this crossover happened at E3, there were some people in attendance who might have no idea who are The New Day but maybe they saw them and they decided to check out Austin Creed’s UpUpDownDown channel. Then maybe a few of them saw Austin Creed interact with the other WWE Superstars on the channel and chose to watch a wrestling match or two. Then maybe some of those who watched that wrestling match or two wanted more and tuned in to RAW and Smackdown again. Then maybe, just maybe, they came to the conclusion they also liked professional wrestling and became WWE fans. I mean, that’s totally possible, right?
The same thing can happen for the gamers who stumbled onto the WWE Superstar Twitch streamers. They liked the personality behind the stream and wanted to see more of them on either RAW or Smackdown. This can’t happen anymore because, well, there aren’t many Superstars who are on Twitch because the WWE wanted to get all greedy.
I strongly believe the WWE trying to take over their Superstars Twitch streams is ridiculous and stupid. Not only does it gets the fans and the Superstars angry at them, they’re also limiting a possible fanbase from stumbling into the joys of watching professional wrestling! Once again, the WWE is very short-sighted on what’s “best for business.”
What’s your take on the entire WWE and Twitch situation? Let me know in the comments section below!