As the media landscape constantly changes around us many entertainment providers are trying to figure out how to adapt. WWE has always been looking for new innovative ideas and their launch of the WWE Network in 2014 was an example. Currently, a majority of WWE’s profits come from their television rights. However, everybody knows television has been losing traction due to various streaming technologies.
In order to stay ahead of the curve WWE announced a show called Mixed Match Challenge that will air via Facebook Watch starting January 16. This show will feature men and women from Raw teaming up against men and women from Smackdown. The pairings have not been announced but WWE has encouraged their fans to help decide the pairings through social media. These teams will compete in 12 week single elimination tournament with the winning team earning $100,000 dollars for a charity of their choice.
The women from Raw that will participate in this tournament are Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Alicia Fox, Asuka, Bayley, and Sasha Banks. They will team with the men from Raw who will be The Miz, Braun Strowman, Finn Bálor, Enzo Amore, Goldust, and one last man to be voted on by the fans.
Those Raw wrestlers will compete against the Smackdown women of Lana, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Naomi, and Natalya. These ladies will be paired with Rusev, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Jimmy Uso, Sami Zayn, and one member of The New Day to be decided by the fans.
This is a very fun concept but hopefully it does not lose interest over the 12 weeks. There have been many times when a new show is hyped up only for it to be an after thought in a few months.
This is exactly what happened to the cruiserweight exclusive show 205 Live. WWE pushed it hard at first before it became a show an after thought. It seems that even less will watch it as Mixed Match Challenge is taking the time slot 205 Live normally has. 205 Live will now air on the WWE Network right after Mixed Match Challenge. The fact that the Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore is in the tournament may mean the only bright spot of 205 Live will be elsewhere.
Despite this issue Mixed Match Challenge seems to be a great move for WWE. Not only does this allow them to try out Facebook as a content provider but it also pushes their idea of a women’s revolution in wrestling. WWE over the past few years have made strong moves to make their women come off as serious athletes as opposed to the eye candy they were in the past. This tournament allows for the women to be seen as just as big of stars as some of the men they will be teaming with.
The most interesting aspect of this new show is the fact that Facebook Watch is relatively new and unproven. WWE loves to boast the amount of followers they and their superstars have on social media so this is an obvious step. The big issue is how well the WWE fan base will adapt to this new means of watching wrestling. Facebook Watch has shows such as Ball in the Family featuring LaVar Ball and his family but it does not seem their shows are gaining traction. WWE has a very loyal fan base so Mixed Match Challenge may help increase this network’s exposure. There have been other experiments with social media such as the Tout debacle of 2012 but this seems more stable. Do not remember Tout? Well there is no good reason to remember it.
Mixed Match Challenge does not debut for another month but from the buzz it has gotten since the announcement it is clear people are interested in this concept. While there is always the chance this show will fade over the 12 weeks there is no doubt that Mixed Match Challenge will be interesting.