WWE creation had only cemented itself as the “only game in town” for a few scant years before the streaming scene changed the game itself entirely. Once obscure hardcore-fan-only promotions like Ring of Honor now draw a wide audience thanks to ubiquitous internet wrestling fandom, as do international operations like New Japan Pro-Wrestling and hyper-stylized mold-breaking outfits like El Rey’s Lucha Underground – all of which have carved into WWE’s fanbase in by catering to elements like more extreme violence, technical-wrestling fundamentals and elaborate storylines that WWE’s mass-appeal mandate has aimed to eschew.

In response, the promotion has once again split its brand and roster in two (RAW and Smackdown), added a separate Network ...

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