WWE has appointed Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff as the Executive Directors of their Raw and Smackdown Live TV shows, respectively. WWE has been the leading name in wrestling for roughly two decades, but the company's recent troubles have been highly publicized. Both Raw and Smackdown Live are losing viewers on the USA network, the company's recent Stomping Grounds pay-per-view saw a record low number of buys and live attendances are also dwindling, with large sections of arenas remaining empty, even for televised events. Critically, WWE's product has been on a downward slope for quite some time, with fans citing underused talent, terrible booking decisions and a controversial deal with Saudi Arabia as just a handful of the problems currently plaguing the company.
In recent years, WWE has had no real competition within the wrestling industry to concern itself over, but that situation has changed with the emergence of AEW. Led by The Elite and Cody Rhodes, with financial backing from the Khan family, AEW held their debut Double or Nothing event in Las Vegas last month to a rapturous reception and ticket demand for their next show, All Out, has been unprecedentedly high. AEW managed to sign one of WWE's top stars in Jon Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose), who has since publicly criticized WWE's creative process and treatment of wrestlers.
With ratings continuing to fall, WWE has been making sweeping changes to their product in recent times and have now announced that Paul Heyman has been appointed Executive Director of Raw, with Eric Bischoff taking the same position over at Smackdown Live. These roles have been newly created and both men will directly report to WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon. Heyman and Bischoff will be responsible for overseeing the creative output of their respective shows.
This news has been met with a largely positive reaction thus far, as both men are highly respected within the wrestling industry. Heyman's time leading ECW and Bischoff's success with WCW demonstrate that the duo are more than capable of heading up their own shows, and the appointments should help address the criticism that Raw and Smackdown Live feel almost identical at present.
Many of WWE's recent changes have been roundly mocked, including the "Wildcard rule" and the attempts to avoid wrestling in ad-breaks by essentially stopping matches mid-flow. However, the new Executive Director positions show a genuine attempt at a much-needed overhaul and can hopefully reverse the negative spiral WWE is currently enduring.
On the other hand, many WWE critics, whether that be fans or wrestlers such as Jon Moxley, have claimed that the company's problems stem from Vince McMahon himself. With the CEO possessing full creative control, it's been said that many of WWE's most derided stories and decisions come directly from McMahon, and since Heyman and Bischoff will still be reporting directly to WWE's chief, the forthcoming changes may not be as drastic as fans are hoping.
WWE Raw next airs July 1st on the USA network.