During the turn of the 21st century, WWE was peak entertainment. Amid its “Attitude Era”, World Wrestling Entertainment, then known as the WWF, had re-branded itself as a more edgier form of professional wrestling with the likes of D-Generation X and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Amid a ratings battle with rivals WCW, WWE captured the imagination of the public everywhere and its stars were household names. Austin was an international celebrity and DX’s signature move had kids all over the world doing the “crotch chop” and yelling “suck it” virtually every chance they could get. Vince McMahon’s family empire felt untouchable, like its superstars would forever be etched into the halls of our minds. Zoom ahead almost two decades and WWE is a shell of its former self. Revenue numbers, viewership and live attendances are all down, and the sport’s biggest stars are no longer water cooler talk. A multi-million dollar deal with Saudi Arabia is just one of a few moves the company has orchestrated as of late to try and re-energise itself and expand to new markets. Oh Hell Yeah! RT @WWENetwork : If you're ready for @steveaustinBSR 's #BrokenSkullSessons with The #Undertaker THIS SUNDAY, give us a HELL YEAH! ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/w3PuFhjSuR — Steve Austin (@steveaustinBSR) November 22, 2019 One can chalk this fall up to anything – controversies, simple malaise at a product pushed into people’s faces for an extended amount of time with little competition, or the proven fact that what goes up, must come down. Millennials, the new driving force behind consumer reports, are also turning to other forms of entertainment. One will never be able to obtain a collective, cohesive answer, but one thing is for certain: the new WWE is not like the old WWE, and probably never will be again. Jon Moxley says WWE ‘made me walk away from all this money’ Studies have shown young people within the current sweet spot demographic, roughly 18-35 year-old males, are not watching traditional television, want more opportunities for fan engagement, and as we all know, have the attention span of goldfish. There’s also more females diluting what was once a male-dominated landscape on top of this. These millennials like e-sports, and streaming; they hate advertising; they watch a lot of non-game sports content and are not brand loyalists like their parents; they are turning away from sports that were Generation X and baby boomer strongholds like American football, baseball and even golf. To put this into perspective, they are a very difficult generation to pin down. Running parallel to this millennial catchment and the fall of WWE as a juxtaposition is the rise of another organisation, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Since then it has taken the mantle from the WWE and remained atop the fighting world over the past decade, Ronda Rousey and, in turn, Irish loudmouth Conor McGregor lifting the brand’s mainstream popularity into the stratosphere. Where this leaves us today is an interesting story of two organisations – one arguably looking to recapture past glories by still relying on bringing back legends like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Austin, The Undertaker and Bill Goldberg; the other successfully developing new major stars like Jorge Masvidal, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Israel Adesanya. The WWE, in its attempt to remain within the entertainment conversation, now looks like an inverted version of Major League Soccer. Retired players from overseas, be it the English Premier League, La Liga or Serie A, make the move over to the MLS to extend their careers and elongate their money making days in a league on the rise. View this post on Instagram La familia Latina unida. #CrownJewel @wwe A post shared by Cain Velasquez (@officialcainvelasquez) on Oct 31, 2019 at 11:28am PDT The list of former UFC fighters now associated with WWE is also growing longer. Former UFC heavyweight champions Brock Lesnar – who ended up in the UFC Octagon after quitting WWE in 2004, only to return in 2012 – and Cain Velasquez recently squared off against each other in Saudi Arabia. Lesnar is the WWE champion and possibly its biggest household name, in no small part down to his famed UFC run. Rousey, once considered the greatest pound for pound female fighter on the planet, is now channeling the spirit of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, although is taking an extended break after losing her title at WWE’s WrestleMania extravaganza in April. Down the ladder there are the other members of Rousey’s former MMA crew, the “Four Horsewomen” – veteran Shayna Baszler is developmental brand NXT’s women’s champion, where she is flanked by Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. Matt Riddle is another former UFC star shining in NXT. Though he is a rising star in his prime at 33, and spent years honing his craft on the independent scene after being cut by the UFC in 2013 for twice testing positive for marijuana. Still, it could be argued WWE is trying to cash in on another organisation’s leftovers. Is this a deft marketing strategy with ulterior motives, or simply an entertainment empire out of answers when it comes to attracting and retaining new fans? No matter how you frame this equation, WWE tying its life raft to another organisation’s star power seems like a short term fix, in absence of a long-term play when it comes to the future of sports, and sports entertainment. Once a golden empire, the WWE is quickly realising that staying on top is actually much harder than getting there.