Raw gets blitzed by NFL
You know those “Did you know” graphics that WWE was running coming out of commercial breaks about Raw having higher ratings than Monday Night Football during the preseason? Well, don’t expect to see how the show fared against the NFL last night being trumpeted on next week’s Raw.
Raw’s rating fell to an alarmingly low 2.6, according to pwinsider.com. The Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game did a 13.3, the highest rating in the history of cable television.
There’s no doubt that the NFL game cut into Raw’s numbers. The question is how much. The Cowboys are probably the NFL’s biggest draw, and the Eagles also are a high-profile team. And Raw’s ratings traditionally take a hit during football season. Still, dropping this low has to send shockwaves through Titan Towers. It will be very interesting to see if next Monday’s game – the New York Jets vs. the San Diego Chargers – has a similar effect. New York is a big market and Bret Favre playing for a new team also has appeal.
The disturbing thing for WWE is that, in my opinion, Monday’s show was pretty good. The Shawn Michaels-Chris Jericho story line has been especially well received by wrestling fans, but apparently casual viewers don’t find it compelling enough to become more than casual viewers. I’m sure there are some people behind the scenes in WWE who will claim that the ratings indicate Jericho’s world heavyweight title reign is a flop, but I think that would be oversimplifying things.
I have seen some wrestling pundits state that the declining ratings should be a wake-up call to Vince McMahon that his creative process is flawed. Obviously, fewer people are watching the product, but is that really a reflection that the content isn’t good? Again, I think that is an oversimplification, especially because I feel the content is good. Some will argue that it’s a copout to say that the wrestling business is cyclical and it’s just in a downturn, but I do think there is something to that.
I also believe the audience has been splintered due to the fact that viewers have so many options on TV now. Plus, let’s face it, wrestling is not the “cool thing” like it was a decade ago. The growing popularity of UFC has impacted wrestling, too. I have no idea what the actual percentage is of wrestling fans who have abandoned the genre for mixed martial arts, but I do have friends and acquaintances who have done exactly that.
I think another big factor is the lack of a larger-than-life superstar. During the boom in the 1980s, Hulk Hogan was that guy. Everyone knew who he was. In the late ’90s and early part of this decade, it was Steve Austin and The Rock who crossed over into the mainstream. No disrespect to any of the current talent, but there is no one at that level right now. The closest one is John Cena.
When ratings have dipped in the past, WWE has taken drastic measures to shake things up. I’m just not sure that another “Who killed Vince McMahon”-type story line or publicity stunts such as McMahon’s Million Dollar Mania are the answer. Recent history shows that going that route spikes ratings in the short term, but it’s not a long-term solution. Unfortunately, I don’t know what the solution is or even if there is one.
And as I have said in the past, it’s important to keep in mind that ratings are but one aspect of the wrestling business. WWE’s bottom line is quite healthy. It was just six months ago that more than 74,000 people attended WrestleMania XXIV and the show did 1.2 million pay-per-view buys.
A few more thoughts on last night’s Raw:
I forgot to mention the debut of Dolph Ziggler in this morning’s post. The new character is being played by Nick Nemeth, who formerly was Spirit Squad member Nicky. Now sporting longer, bleached-blonde hair, he looks like a cross between a young Chic Donovan (longtime fans probably remember him as a jobber to the stars in Georgia Championship Wrestling a couple decades ago) and a Dynamic Dudes-era Shane Douglas.
Ziggler ––whose character might be a takeoff on Dirk Diggler from Boogie Nights –– appeared in a few scenes, as he went up to various people backstage and shook their hand. I’m not sure what the point was, but I’m speculating that it might be a spoof of locker room etiquette. It is customary for people that are new to introduce themselves to everyone and shake hands, and those who fail to do so will have major heat On wwe.com, there is a video of Ziggler introducing himself to JBL during a commercial break while JBL was on his sit-down strike in the ring. The look on JBL’s face when Ziggler offered his hand was priceless. …
Candice Michelle has been getting a lot of criticism from fans for her subpar in-ring performances since returning from injury. I agree that she hasn’t looked good, but I will cut her some slack for now. She did suffer a broken clavicle and then had a setback during her recovery, so there is bound to be some ring rust. Before getting hurt, she had improved a lot from when she started.
I also saw where some are unhappy that Michelle’s push has come at the expense of Mickie James. I like James as much as anyone, but I don’t see it that way. Michelle versus Beth Phoenix is a natural feud considering the fact that Michelle suffered her injury against Phoenix. And I don’t think James is going to continue to be an afterthought. James and Phoenix had wrestled a bunch of times and it was time for some fresh matchups.