Here's a theory I'm developing in response to the curious Hogan phenomena of turning off young viewers while still being cheered out of every building.
1. Die Hards.
First you've got your die hard types, like all of us, who'd watch anything, this makes up I'd say a pretty small proportion of your fanbase. Now, this isn't marks or smarks or anything in particular, it's just your total wrestling nutter, the kind of guy who gets teased by his workmates. The kind of guy who was watching WWF in 95, who was watching WCW in 2001.
2. Alternative fans.
This is the fans who started with ECW, then NWO and then Attitude. Where wrestling started marketing to an alternative audience rather than straight to the mainstream. This means that the product is designed to appeal to anyone who is interested in entertainment that is a reaction to the mass marketed mainstream entertainment world as opposed to being part of it.
3. Mainstream fans.
The absolute casual fan, who wants just a taste of the cutting edge but doesn't really want to be associated with it.
Now here's what I think happened. The alternative audience and alternative image of wrestling got so big that it became the big thing in the entertainment world much like Nirvana and Seattle did ten or twelve years ago. So suddenly hordes of mainstream fans are watching and the alternative audience that revived your business is being less marketed towards and there's more marketing towards the mainstream, take Rock instead of Austin for example.
So the WWF tries again to become mainstream and in doing so loses it's cutting edge which is what appealed to the mainstream in the first place.
Soon enough, the alternative fans are pretty much gone, leaving the majority of fans to be the mainstream fans.
Now the mainstream fans are the ones who aren't watching Hogan, they're the ones who stop watching when Rock isn't on television.
The alternative crowd wants their Hogan nostalgia, they want Austin as the top face and not The Rock.
________________________________________ The Big O - Sucking Less Every Day.
Naw. I can't see it happening either. I think at this point Bret is simply concerned with being Bret. I don't think he'll really want to make an appearance as part of a gimmick or an angle. He'll likely want to appear as himself, if at all.