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July 13, 2011

The shocking truth: CM Punk does not equal ratings

CM Punk turned the wrestling world on its ear with his brilliant worked-shoot promo on Raw two weeks ago, but while wrestling websites and social media outlets have been buzzing, viewers for Raw have been bailing.

Last week’s lowly 2.4 rating (3.7 million viewers) for Raw was explained away by the fact that it aired on July 4. However, this past Monday’s show only did a 2.9 (4.3 million viewers), which is a disappointment no matter how you look at it.

That’s a significant decline from the June 27 show (the night Punk cut his much-talked about promo), which did a 3.1 rating and 4.9 million viewers. The special three-hour episodes the previous two weeks each did 3.1 ratings and 4.5 million viewers, while the June 6 Raw did a 3.2 and 5 million viewers.

The numbers seem to indicate that the Punk angle, which is geared toward hardcore fans, is not resonating with the masses. Either that or casual wrestling fans would rather watch the sluggers on Home Run Derby than the bruisers on Raw.

I think a lot of people in the wrestling community (including me) have been thinking that Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view – which is headlined by WWE champion John Cena’s title defense against Punk in what is being billed as Punk’s last night with the company – is going to do a better-than-usual buy rate, and it still may, but the ratings dip suggests otherwise.

That would be unfortunate, because it would send a message to WWE decision-makers that “insider” angles such as this one aren’t good for business. It also would give some ammunition to the Punk detractors in the company who don’t think that he’s a draw.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 6:27 PM | | Comments (55)
        

Comments

This is disappointing - no, depressing - news. Have we, as a society, been so Cena-fied that this can be true?

Home Run Derby always brings Raw' s numbers down. It usually gets better ratings than the All-Star game itself.

Wow. Surely, I thought with his imminent 'leaving' of WWE, the RAW episodes leading up to MITB would have better ratings. Perhaps fans have grown tired of the Nexxus angle and Punk as their leader or maybe the WWE Universe just isn't 'feeling' him.

I don't think much can be learned from looking at ratings in such short-term snapshots. Sure, there may be the occasional huge happening or hyped event that spikes them, but this CM Punk stuff in recent weeks shouldn't be viewed through that prism.

What's the bigger story here is whether or not what we are seeing of late represents a shift in the company's direction. There has been a far edgier feel to the show recently than in any time in recent years, and dating back to the WM27 buildup, more cursing in the last four months than the previous four years.

Of course, this direction shift- if I'm not imagining it- gets a bit lost if Punk really does leave. That is, unless it leads to something that a sizable chunk of fans have been wanting for years: the John Cena heel turn. It's their next big play, even if Punk stays.

This talk of long-term direction brings me back to the ratings. They typically follow long-term trends, often lagging as much as six months behind the quality of the show. This CM Punk stuff, brilliant as it is, only pays off if you build on it over months. The Attitude Era, for example, really started in the summer of 1997 in terms of show quality: several months before Montreal and nearly a year before WM14.

Even if Punk leaves, they've given themselves a foundation to build upon, but it's probably unwise to assume they're ever looking down the road that far with that much foresight.

in 2011 ratings should mean nothing

i agree that short term ratings arnt worth analyzing.

what is worth looking at though is the crowd reaction. normally the crowd is dead to raw, this one was going ballistic.

RESPONSE FROM KE: Crowd reactions at live events are not really accurate indicators of the state of the business. If that was the case, ECW would have ruled the industry.

So, the week where Punk is "suspended" and not on TV the ratings absolutely plummet, and then spike back up the week he is on, and yet Punk is not a draw?

RESPONSE FROM KE: The ratings plummeted because the show was on July 4. Everyone expected that. But with all the buzz surrounding Punk and this angle, you would think the ratings for this past Monday's show would be well above where they were at three weeks ago before the angle started. Less people are watching the show now than they were then. That's not good.

Maybe in this era of social media, the Neilsen ratings shouldn't mean as much. What's the buzz on Twitter, Facebook, or You Tube? While there's no way to use this as a gauge vs. past superstars' popularity since it wasn't around in the 90s (can you imagine how much hotter the Monday Night Wars would've been w/ today's instant internet reaction), it is a gauge vs. overall trends. The times are a changin'...why watch a whole episode of watered down WWE when you can just catch the best parts (i.e. Punk) later on You Tube? Or WWE.com for that matter.

RESPONSE FROM KE: Agreed it's a different world now, but the ratings still mean something. Fewer people watching the show now than a few weeks ago before the angle began is not good.

whoever wrote this article is an idiot! The next raw was on july 4th! people werent watching it because they were out blowing off fireworks not to mention that most already knew what happened because it was pre recorded

RESPONSE FROM KE: You should read more carefully before you call someone an idiot, otherwise you may look like an idiot.

Read this sentence again and think about it:

Last week’s lowly 2.4 rating (3.7 million viewers) for Raw was explained away by the fact that it aired on July 4.

I'm hoping that the raitings were low due to the homerun derby. Honestly, while I was primarily watching raw, during the commercial breaks, I would switch it over.

The ratings are declining because of lack of action on Free TV. CM Punk is doing his job up to big potential. You see, only promos don't mean anything. People also need some PPV-standard matches on free TV like back in the old days. Book some championship matches on free tv like Cena vs Rey and see how ratings hit the sky. Book a match between Punk and Rey with a stipulation or a tag match between Cena/Rey against Punk/Del Rio.

I don't think this is, necessarily, a good indication either. I only follow wrestling so often, because it pissed me off so much the past few years. Punk was the main reason I even paid attention to wrestling in the last few years. With his work recently I've been watching intensively.

But I don't even own a television so there is no other way to gauge this than on youtube. So, in effect, my increased viewership is not even accounted for. I also noticed that Punk's shoot/work promo has gotten over one million views in a remarkably short period of time. There's obviously a reason for that.

Neilsen ratings don't count the voiceless, and as Punk stated, he is the voice of the voiceless. But in all seriousness, ratings are tricky now days with DVRs and everything else. The PPV buy rate will be what matters in the long run, and I predict the buy rate will be like Altoids - curiously strong.

Kevin, I'm guessing you've read Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham's book, "Sex, Lies and Headlocks." What I said earlier about ratings being months behind the social curve is directly from that book: it was several months from when Raw was perceived to have passed Nitro critically before the ratings reflected it.

So I think you're overreacting- as WWE brass would be if they share your reaction- by declaring it to be "not good." It's not anything. As has been noted, one of the shows was July 4th and another was the Home Run Derby. And we're comparing the ratings to two of the special three-hour shows, which are almost always temporary spikes.

Aside from pre-advertised appearances by The Rock or something else of that nature, it's unfair to look at a show's storyline and then declare it a commercial failure because the next week's ratings didn't correspond. They don't work that fast.

I also think it's a false analogy to compare what's happening with the crowd reactions to ECW. That was a few hundred- a few thousand at most- cracked-out, blood-lusting Philly mutants. I think in cases like this, with storylines like what they're doing now, the crowd reaction is worth paying attention to. Clearly they're responding. Ratings and PPV buys tend to lag behind that, but if the storyline remains strong, people will catch on.

What they're doing with CM Punk right now is something special and I hope the WWE higher-ups have more faith in the product they're currently putting out than what short-term ratings "trends" suggest.

RESPONSE FROM KE: There's no doubt that during the Monday Night War, Raw was a better show than Nitro months before the ratings reflected it. But I'm not sure that analogy works here. People were used to watching Nitro and it took a while to get them out of that routine. There is no head to head wrestling competition for Raw today. With all the buzz about the Punk angle, one would think it reasonable to assume that the ratings would increase at least slightly, but they actually went down. The three-hour shows, by the way, traditionally don't do produce high ratings because the first hour usually doesn't do well because viewers are not used to watching Raw at that time.

Or maybe Punk's shoot promo was too brutally honest? It was compelling to watch at the time but rang amazingly true and did not paint a good picture of WWE or its brain trust nor did it offer up much of any hope for change for the better. Nor has the follow-up. Ouch!

Unless maybe Punk isn't really leaving. Or maybe Cena will take up his anti-establishment role after he is gone in an effort to re-invigorate his stale character?

My bet is the latter.

We'll see.

The numbers don't lie, but I have to wonder if there's something else at work. Punk's shoot promo a couple weeks ago lit up the wrestling world for those of us who remember the Monday Night Wars and the Attitude Era. Then, two hours after that scorching promo, it was all over the internet that Punk was back in and Cena would be "fired" if he lost. Yawn.

In the follow-up to this week's Raw, and then the follow-up to that, you said that we shouldn't be surprised that this week's Raw was back to the traditional angle-based gimmickry. That's probably true, but it doesn't change the fact that what most fans wanted was for the worked shoot angle to continue through Money in the Bank. When you have such a hot ending, to then doggedly trek back to the same old 'see it from a mile away' trash. It's no surprise that people didn't tune in on July 4th. To me, it's not shocking that, after reading the results of last week's Raw, hardcore fans wrote the angle off as ruined and didn't bother tuning in to see the take-away show. I think, to an extent, those people are justified.

Watching this week's final segment, I couldn't stop shaking my head. Punk's over-the-top demands were ridiculous to excess, but I understand that it was him blatantly trying to get Vince to not sign his contract. Then Vince called him Phil, to overtly remind viewers that what we're seeing is "real life." Then Cena came out. Look, I agree that, aside from the groan inducing "I hate Vince McMahon" bit, he was the best we've seen him in ages. The problem is that people are excited, not only because Punk is the best wrestler to show up since Stone Cold was in his prime, but because the WWE is finally doing an angle where John Cena is a secondary character. So naturally, on the 4th of July episode of Raw, Vince McMahon makes it about John Cena. Then, in the last moments before the pay per view, John Cena interrupts Punk's promo and makes it all about him. Your casual fans and children aren't happy because someone's being mean to John Cena, and the hardcore fans are pissed because, once again, Cena has made it all about him. It's unsurprising that the ratings are suffering.

remember, these last two weeks were stuck with other events. july 4th and the home run derby. i agree wwe needs to step it up, but when bigger events occur to evade people from the show, this stuff happens people (Wrestling source)

RESPONSE FROM KE: July 4 is a given, and I would not be alarmed at all by that rating. I am alarmed by this week's 2.9. The Home Run Derby should not be that big a factor when WWE is running such a hot angle.

Though there are some facts, the rating as a whole, doesn't say much to me. I'm going to be totally honest. I only watched the beginning and the end of RAW knowing CM Punk was going to be on both those segments. The rest of it was the HR derby. The middle stuff is whats wrong with the WWE, it's so diluted to the normal boring crap we see every week, it disinterests me. Maybe do a breakdown of the quarter hours and then we'll see. Plus its unfair to put a rating competing with a big sporting event to one of a previous rating with no sporting event. There is a huge percentage of people who watch WWE because there is nothing else good to watch on Mondays. The crowd reaction is more than enough that the people are more interested than they were in years.

RESPONSE FROM KE: I'm a baseball fan, but there's no way I would watch the Home Run Derby over Raw. But that's just me.

I was sad that I missed the opening to RAW this past Monday, because I figured Punk would come out to say something. We were at a baseball game. But we got home, put he younguns to bed, and I was happy to see the last 18 minutes or so of RAW because Punk, Cena, and Vince were coming on. I didn't care that I missed the rest. Sorry. They need to get the quality up in multiple storylines, not just one. Make the IC and US championships interesting and meaningful. Smackdown writers: Don't show me Rhodes-Bryan on three consecutive weeks, even if they produce some good matches. Call me crazy, but if your job title with WWE is "Creative", then live up to it. Be creative across the board! It's not rocket science.

they get what they deserve for being so greedy
who the hell wants to watch the show on tv when every 5 seconds there is a another long commercial break

everyone watches it either taped with the fast forward button ready
or online commercial free

i bet if you counted the online views of raw this week the numbers would be above all other numbers this year

go away ratings, go away marketing industry

I think the headline of this blog is a smart one because it's designed to get clicks RIGHT NOW. The brilliance of the Punk-Cena-VKM angle is buzzworthy, but it's designed at MITB buys and perhaps the long-term play. It's important to pay attentions to the Nielsen rating, but again, we just don't know enough to garner meaningful info from 1 true show.

Most real fans want to see quality over the long run before they fork over their money. (The same applies with going to see a Judd Apatow produced movie compared to most others in Hollywood right now, at least for comedies imo.) A sustained track record of excellence will slowly bring people back into the fold based on reputation and word of mouth.

If CM Punk is legitimately one of the 4-5 main eventers at Wrestlemania, RAW could be drawing 4.0's come January-February-March when it's "hot season". People need good stories to watch, not just a good page or a chapter. Can WWE recognize this for fans who want good stories? Time will tell if the build for WM28 has already started and if it gives people with longer attention spans a reason to invest their emotion.

Kev,

We all need to remember that in todays watered down WWE PG era people are not caring about RAW or even wrestling anymore. Almost all my friends who were wrestling fans don't even bother to watch anymore. It's not only watered down now, but also most of the recognizable wrestlers are gone. Those two reasons combined are why Raw's ratings are so low and you're right and they have no more excuses. I'm pretty sure the head honcho's at WWE are fully aware of this. But it seems all they care about is selling thier John cena and rey mysterio merchandise rather than putting out a good product. I had to get this out of my system Kev.

Please post the quarter ratings from wrestlingobserver. It will tell you what draws and prove this post the opposite.

Here's the ratings breakdown from the Observer:
In the segment-by-segment, the show opened at a 3.12 level for Punk and John Cena in the ring. Cena vs. David Otunga & Michael McGillicutty lost 475,000 viewers, which is not good. A Mark Henry video, plus Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Vickie Guerrero and Vince McMahon backstage lost 4,500 viewers. Kelly Kelly vs. Melina lost 128,000 viewers. The Miz and all the Money in the Bank guys doing promos one-by-one gained 382,000 viewers, which is less than the top of the hour usually gets. Miz & R-Truth & Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne & Kofi Kingston & Alex Riley lost 274,000 viewers. Big Show vs. Ziggler & McIntyre with the post-match Mark Henry attack lost 281,000 viewers and did a 2.61 quarter, which is just dreadful. The final segment with McMahon, Punk and Cena gained 1,346,000 viewers, one of the biggest growth segments of the year, closing at a 3.50. It should be noted that going 16 minutes past the hour instead of the usual 5-8 minutes means double or triple the amount of time to both gain new viewers, and pick up the viewers tuning in for the next show.

RESPONSE FROM KE: Thanks for sending this along. As this breakdown rightly pointed out, the rating for the final quarter has to be kept in perspective. The overruns are always inflated because people are tuning in to see the next show, and like this report stated, the longer the overrun, the bigger the rating should be. With Raw going 16 minutes past the hour, I'm not sure a 3.5 is all that impressive.

Let me say this.PPL are so anti Cena for no real reason what so ever. The man is tough and show up to perform and does so consistently. Overexposure of the man may be a problem but its a problem because there are so few to step up to his level. Everyone would have hated Hogan back in the day if he wasn't presented with huge challenges and highly supported by a monstrous middle and undercard. The tag team division ACTUALLY HAD REAL TAG TEAMS. The IC belt mattered, and was comparable to the world title.But recently, WWE has been hit hard with a loss of talent.It started after the Chris Benoit scare/tragedy and its been declining ever since. And some of the best are no longer performing night after night like they used to or at all. Think about it, to lose HHH, Undertaker, Edge, Jerico, Trish Stratus, Lita, Kharma, Shawn Michaels, Batista, to name a few, is heavy. You are left with no one but Cena and Orton consistently trying to keep the company afloat. CM Punk has been awesome but really only now is he really starting to show his true excellence. What you are left with is a crew of talent who aren't quite there yet and you want to pawn off on me an Alberto Del Rio? You must be on whatever Jeff Hardy is.In the company, only 2 belts actually mean something, the World, and the WWE titles.So yeah we have to have super Cena and Mighty Orton, but the difference between the two is Orton was NEVER geared toward little kids. Players like The Miz, Alex Riley, R Truth, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, The Usos, are going to be the next phase of the WWE but in time. Until then we got Cena, Orton, and the newly crowned CM Punk.Those are the options ppl. And its not Cena's fault that its like that. It just happened that way. So at least admire the man's work ethic even if you don't admire the character, and lay off a bit.The wind of change is blowing , I can tell. We'll all be satisfied in due time

dont people just tune in and switch the channel a second later and maybe leave it on for a few minutes at opening/closing and womens segments?

vince only wants the common man, mainstream audience anyway. thats why hogan, austin,rock and cena are so important to him. who cares about the ratings.

people now can see the best bits on youtube and are too busy entertaining themselves with their phones or laptops.

How does this dip in ratings compare to the dip that happened at last year's home run derby? That seems like the right question to ask. I get skeptical when someone makes an argument like the one in this post. It starts by saying that objective data (ratings dip) says that the public isn't into the CM Punk angle, but then the only response offered to questions about the influence of outside factors is a blanket statement of opinion (the angle "should have" still kept viewers anyway).

This is a classic issue of failing to isolate a variable. The quarter hour data suggests that the rest of the show could be at fault, there's the MLB factor, and so forth. Pulling the plug on something because of a single data point is the epitome of shortsightedness, and it's the sot of thing that can come back to bite you.

How long does it take for someone to become a big draw in this business? When Steve Austin started getting red hot in 97, WWE was still losing the ratings war to WCW. It took a while before WWE began to narrow the divide, but through consistency and good stories, they eventually did it. I use Austin as an example because of the similarities that he and Punk have. The whole anti establishment stance they both take. And seeing how CM Punk has been used since his stay with the company, especially within the last year, i think its unfair to say he doesn't equal ratings based on one show. I believe its about consistency, and sadly, we may never see if Punk could be a real draw or not.

Then keep USA programming's ratings in perspective as well. What's on after Raw these days? Suits? Necessary Roughness? Some other crappy show I'll never watch, like Franklin & Bash? I don't know that any of those recently debuted shows are strong enough (yet) to credit them with the ratings for the final segment. If Raw was followed by something as established (but still awful) as, say, The Closer, I would be quicker to concede that Raw's waning moments got an unexpected assist. In this case, I'm not so sure.

RESPONSE FROM KE: The point is that people tuning in to see the next show -- whatever it is and however popular it is -- are now watching Raw whether they have any interest in it or not -- and that inflates the number. You're right, to what degree it inflates it depends on the popularity of the show.

As the ratings break down shows, the segments with Punk where much more popular then every other segement combined.
This Punk thing is the draw, it's the other boring garbage that isn't.

Though, i guess WWE thinks burying the Tag Champs by having them get beat by one person, AGAIN, is what people want to see.

It's not that Punk does not equal ratings; WWE itself does not equal ratings anymore.

Has anyone suggested that maybe the reason why the ratings have dipped is because the outcome has already been given away? I mean they say that if Cena loses then he gets fired and CM Punk will leave with the title. Haven't we seen that Punk can't win with that kind of stipulation hanging over Super Cena's head?

How do these ratings compare against tna impact, on average?

Does anyone know how they determine the ratings? Is it watching it live? Does watching it 2 hours later on DVR count towards or against the ratings? I've always wondered this, as I watch RAW either later Monday or even Tuesday so I can fast forward through all the replays, commercials and Michael Cole vs Lawler stuff (thank God that's over!). I know a few people who are buying MITB, including myself, who would normally not and its because of CM Punk!

KE, I think you missed the point from the stats Alex posted - the lack of depth in the Raw shows. As much as you might think people want to watch Mark Henry and Big Show, the stats show people change channels when they're on. And pushing Otunga & McGillicutty (at least change his name back to Hennig) is embarrassing.

My take on the ratings dip is based on the PG rating the WWE has lived with for quite some time now. I believe many fans have been driven away from Raw because of the PG rating and had not yet tuned back in based on one solid episode featuring CM Punk. Also, I think it's possible that many parents, watching with their young children, may have turned Raw off after hearing the language being used the past two or three weeks.

As for me, I hate the PG rating and wish it would go away forever. Bring back the brass knuckles and the blood; bring back the bra and panties matches and, most of all, stop trying to make people over the age of 10 believe that someone like Rey Mysterio can actually beat someone like Kane. Create new superstars (Ziggler, R Truth, Kingston and Del Rio) and let them take the company into the future.

The true value was the buzz it got. July is vacation time for many. But besides the Punk/Cena deal what compelling storyline do they have right now? None.....

I think it's a shame you put together your case against Punk at this point. You could have at least waited until the mitb ppv numbers came in before throwing statistics at us. Jerk move in my opinion.

RESPONSE FROM KE: I'm not making a case against Punk at all. I love Punk and I'm really into this angle. I'm merely reporting the facts: The angle -- so far -- has not spiked ratings. I said the PPV could still do better than usual -- and I hope it does. But I don't care how people try to spin it: A 2.9 (well below average) with a hot angle that has wrestling fans talking is cause for concern. And I'm concerned. Think about this: If I had ignored the 2.9 rating, all the people who accuse me of having a WWE bias would be blasting me over that.

Wow someone is quick to look at the bad side of things.... One person isnt a show, Cena the supposed money draw ruined the segments he was in and lost numbers during his "match". The rest of the show was trash, the rating sucked because the show sucked and the homerun derby was on and had ny and boston players in it. No one draws anymore, ratings will never be what they once were and expecting ratings to skyrocket or fail is slightly ignorant when basing it on such a short amount of time, I dont wanna call you out of anything but in all honesty this is a piece you should have wrote after MITB at the earliest. Plus DVR ratings havent come in yet and they always boost the numbers up, probably a higher than average dvr rating because of the derby. In closing, yes this means wwe wont be jumping into the 5.0 ratings overnight but to put as your headline - CM Punk does not equal ratings - proves your just being a tool and looking for attention.

P.s Kevin Eck doesnt equal quality writing, it equals cheap headlines so he can get page views....

C'mon KEvin, admit that the Punk shoot promo was great and most of the rest is basic crap just like Punk said.

The truth hurts, even if saying it makes for good TV.

RESPONSE FROM KE: I think a lot of you are missing the point. Of course the Punk stuff is awesome compared to the rest of the program (the main angle in any era is usually superior to the other angles), and of course the Punk-cena segments are going to be higher-rated than the other segments. But an overall 2.9 is not good. Wouldn't you think a hot angle would at least maintain the average rating?

@ Mr. Eck
First of all, this is a great article. These are the sort of in-depth discussions that will eventually prove to be the sort of critical journalism that will move wrestling forward as far as how it is treated in media.
As for my own feelings---many of the commenters here are sharp and correct. You absolutely cannot judge the efficacy of Punk's story based upon one, or two, or even three shows. Done well, this could be the start of a fresh direction for WWE in the 21st century. Not the "shoot", not the specifics of the story--but the fact that it is being publicly referenced by WWE itself that creative directions have been taken which have diminished the company and have diminished wrestling in general in the public perception.
The 2.9 reflects not interest or lack thereof in Punk, but the long-term slide in ratings for the last few YEARS. You cannot expect fans to flood back when many grew frustrated and bored with WWE long ago, and are not going to all come back in one day even under the most optimistic of conditions. For my own personal example, I read about Punk's rants on your blog, and watched them on internet sites like YouTube. The hits on those sites clearly show that many did the same.
I would assume that many of these folks feel the same that I do. The creative direction has been stale for so long that I am reticent to "come back", as it were, quite yet. I want it proven first that changes are going to happen, that Punk's referencing of WWE's problems are going to be addressed, and not merely used as a one-shot storyline.
In the corporate, ADD mass culture, there is a tendency to look at NOW, RIGHT NOW, and this has actually been one of WWE's problems, and the problem of many non-wrestling businesses. Long-term goals have been left by the wayside, but long-term goals are in the end the only things that work.
I wholeheartedly believe that if WWE takes the risk, (risk being another necessity of a successful business and risk in that context ALWAYS being a venture made into long-term goals that you will stick to no matter the intermediary ups and downs in order to produce an eventual outcome), that the people just watching on YouTube right now WILL come back. Viewers that aren't watching wrestling at all right now will come also, if the CM Punk shoot is not a flash-in-the-pan, and results in a slow build to a newer and better creative model that will produce MORE things to pique the public's interest.
In addition, like I mentioned with a slow turn in wrestling journalism's paradigm, the eventual outcome, if wrestling is to have a real future, is to increase the perception of its validity as entertainment on its own terms. You are NOT going to reflect that instantly in ratings, and I think anyone would be foolish to suggest so. It is a slow build, one brick at a time, each set carefully, and with forethought.
Think of Punk's introduction of this chaos as only the dismantling of what was there. People aren't going to come en masse to see the old building being taken apart, although they will notice the buzz that something is going on, which has happened. Some will retain interest as the new construction begins, wondering what will be there---but the banking of long-term plans is on the audience that will be there to see the shining new construction when it is completed---a thing unlike what they have seen before, yet retaining enough lines that they know where it came from---and the risk is opening the doors and hoping that you get a flood of new people to come look inside.
However, if you insist on short-term, shot-by-shot goals, (as WWE may mistakenly do if they read the "ratings" as you have--no offense--we're just discussing your take as compared to mine and obviously others), then you're left with the same building, with all of its warts, flaws and signs of age and wear. The same outflow of people will keep happening, and soon enough, be it five or ten or twenty years, (ironically the same time you could have spent building a new one), the building will fall apart, as all things do if not reinvigorated whether literally or metaphorically---History teaches us so, and nothing left to its own devices has ever lasted forever. Things last when pieces of the old are used to build something new.
Okay, so I hope that covers it. Punk's shoot now has us at the point of you writing arrticles like you are, and we commenters providing thoughts like we are--is that measurable in ratings? Is it worthless to the health of our sport? You told me, when we had our discussion on Christian, to take the long view---now ironically, my esteemed acquaintance--I'm telling you the same.

Kev in you opinion do you think that the sports entertainment/pro wrestling industry is in serious decline? Hopefully ROH will get back to classic rasslin angles LOL blend the back stage stuff(less of it though) in with classic angles. Something TNA should have done they(TNA) need to watch classic WWWF and NWA stuff late 70`s early 80`s and get some pointers on how to conduct angles. The industry needs new blood on the writer/booker end badly. LOL can we get Jim Crockett back and George Scott(1970`sNWA/early 80`s WWF/E booker) their old now where is Paul Haymen? The Punk angle is hot but the industry is in a down period with fan intrest and with booking/writing to me.

Kev,

I think there are two factors at play with that rating:

#1 That July 4th pre-tape was AWFUL. Absolutely awful. If I was in the live audience I'd have felt so ripped off. In real time, it took about what, 30 minutes to kill that angle off? At least we had a week to ponder how much of a work that promo was. To be there live, you instantly lost interest. Cena wants Punk back because "it's the right thing to do." Vomit. It just made the whole thing seem so contrived, so why should anyone have an interest in seeing Punk this week. His program was totally neutered as soon as John Cena, the man who personifies everything Punk spoke against is suddenly saving his job.

#2 and why the Raw ratings in general are down is that the WWE takes every opportunity to make Cena this total angel and it kills everything he touches. How many careers has he killed? He is the face HHH. HHH was fed guys like Steiner and RVD who were built up and then just destroyed credibility wise. Steiner was hot when he came in, dead when he went out. Same for RVD. Cena has done it to others too for the sake of keeping him protected. Stone Cold didn't have Bret Hart being nice to him. He kicked his ass and then he kicked someone else's ass and then went and kicked someone else's ass after that. This is referred to as Punk's Stone Cold moment, but they already made it about Cena. Cena even had to get in how he doesn't like Vince too.

Cena is scripted to do the things that killed WCW. He is out there making it all about him to protect himself. Hall, Nash and others used to do that on Nitro off the script all the time to bury people and it decimated the product. The Miz was rising fast and extremely hot, now he's jobbing to Alex Riley. Same thing with The Truth who was breaking out and then shelved. Both men were fed to Super Cena and have no momentum. It's taken Sheamus over a year and a new brand to get back on track. Wade Barrett might was well be future endeavored already.

We had one week to think this time it would be different. This time someone would be allowed to break through. He still could, but Super Cena has to die in the process. Think about when Punk returns as an anit-hero face. If Super Cena is smiling and laughing and making poopy jokes and Punk comes back, no one will care. Cena has no intrigue until Mania next April. We are conditioned to know he's going to win. At least Hogan was facing guys like the Undertaker, Savage and Warrior to maintain suspense. Cena vs Del Rio just doesn't have the same ring to it. However if you flip the script and pit a heel Cena against a face Morrison or a face Miz? You can make a new star every two months. Then when a Stone Cold stype Punk returns, the roof would blow off the place because a heel Cena was about to get owned. The kids would want to see him beat for betraying them and every male would still hate his guts.

Until WWE takes a risk, they are doomed. Smackdown as a brand is circling the drain because Christian was undercut just as his star was the highest it's ever been. Orton is so protected there and he's not even a big draw. Well he was, when he had an interesting character. Now he has the character of a mid-carder, but he doesn't shave, so that's his gimmick now? "Ooooh, I used to be the Legend Killer, but now I just stopped shaving."

For different reasons, the WWE and TNA are stale in the same way. You cannot get invested in anyone because WWE will ruin anyone getting over for the sake of the two proven guys they have left and TNA will just turn their rising stars 100 times before someone over 60 goes over on them.

Anyway, not surprising that the rating sucked. It took one week to put this whole angle on life support. After Sunday it could just be DOA.

Do you think 2 weeks was too long to keep Punk off TV?

In my little circle of friends, it got people talking about wrestling again (who had not talked to me about it in years) and it got me interested in actually pursuing watching the PPV at a WWE Blast Area instead of just reading recaps afterward. Maybe I am atypical, but with the exposure they got from Jim Rome and ESPN, I would think they would get a bump. I wonder what kind of programming would get a consistent increase, because I thought that was it.

Can't say this for other commenters but on the occasions (which aren't many) that I do watch RAW live, I usually watch the opening segment and then tune in for the last half hour of the show. There's only so many Dolph Ziggler-Kofi Kingston matches I can watch. Simply put, the mid-card feuds have no build up, depth or intensity to them.

On a broader scale regarding WWE's ratings, to think that RAW will ever get a 4.0 cable rating is naive with the advent of Youtube and dirt sheets. Further, WWE gave this slow death to themselves when they decided to make RAW the John Cena show many years ago. CM Punk's truthfulness in his shoot and the breath of fresh air surrounding it is the biggest indicator that WWE is a stale product.

I think for years people have continued to watch RAW in the hopes that it would eventually get better, but it's gotten to the point where many have given up and resorted to read the recaps rather than bother to tune in to the show.

I love when people play the old ratings game like they understand TV trends at all. First of all, the MLB Home Run Derby was on. Second of all, you can't judge how hot the angle is solely on the ratings. Sometimes it takes a while for word-of-mouth to spread and it is far more important how the ratings are in aggregate after a few months than one single data point.

What does matter is how well MiTB sells. It is hard to build a PPV better than this. If it scores a huge buy-rate, it will be undeniable that Punk was instrumental in getting folks to fork out cash. Not only that, but Punk has expanded WWE's social media and traditional media presence, meaning that the WWE brand is getting recognition in new markets beyond just TV markets. There are also house shows whose gates have declined over the last few years. How well are they doing now? Does anyone have an answer? Are people showing up to see Punk?

How is Punk's merchandise selling?

Basically, one week of ratings means jack in the grand scheme of things. Wait for the PPV buy report and we'll see how much leverage Punk actually has in contract negotiations (though I think he is re-signed already). Remember, Stone Cold Steve Austin didn't pull in the big ratings over night either. These things take time. But to say that Punk will somehow be rendered irrelevant is asinine. He's the hottest commodity WWE has right now, even hotter than Cena.

This article is simply retarded by any reasonable measure (as are 90% of the comments)

Hey KE, firstly good article, but I have to give my counter point. Now I realize there are a lot of people giving quick responses just because they see this as an "attack on my favorite" so excuses will abound. However a few good points have been made. One is about DVR, many fans DVR RAW only to check it out in the morning or later the next day. Hell I am guilty of this often and only tuned in full time to see Punk this week. So once those numbers come in it should give a more honest look on how RAW did. If you see a jump in the amount of people who DVR'd RAW from the previous couple of weeks (you should probably pull it from say 6 weeks ago) then it gives you a better idea of how well the storyline did.

The other thing to look at is the breakdown that another user posted. The fact that the numbers jumped at the end can pretty much correlate with twitter and facebook. As soon as Punk's segment started there was a huge jump in posts relating to Punk. I was watching it in real time and it was obvious with the trends that were going on. So let's take this into account you have huge growth in twitter posts referencing CM Punk doing a shoot on RAW, that would correlate pretty well with the numbers for the final segment. The fact that lowest cable ranking I could find for Monday was a .4 (http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/07/12/monday-cable-ratings-all-star-softball-edges-out-pawn-stars-home-run-derby-closer-rizzoli-alphas-eureka-more/97860/) and whatever came on after RAW was not on the ratings (don't even know which show it was) we can deduct that at most you can take away .3 from the Punk segment. That still leaves him at a 3.1...more realistically it's probably at a 3.2. Now those aren't spectacular but when you go from a 2.61 to around a 3.2 that is saying something big.

Now all that aside I'm in marketing and it's a different world for EVERYONE, facebook, twitter and YouTube are huge cash cows and the shift that WWE is taking shows that they frankly "get it". Though the segment did not do nearly as well as the "shoot" from two weeks ago twitter was still a buzz and his "shoot" had over a million YouTube views in around 3 days. That is worth more long term to the WWE then a strong Nielsen rating from Monday Night Raw. Coming from my background as a Social Media Manager and marketing this is why I am very excited. There is just no way a company can back track right now with out loosing "lighting in a bottle" as so many dirt sheets like to say.

Anyways I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Long time reader, first time commenting.

Yours is the only blog i read as im not an 'Internet fan' and and i came across u our blog randomly.

Barring your rather odd dislike of Bret Hart, and you not realising Hornswoggle was Vince's 'lovechild' when it seemed obviously to me after 'Things are looking up', i must say you do give a good well rounded view of all WWE.

As for CM Punk? I have never been so interested in the WWE for long time....

Id suggest wait more than ONE WEEK before proclaiming Punk doesn't equal ratings!!!! Jeez, ONE WEEK!!! (tho part of me thinks your headline and the article was to draw hits to your page!)

I hope u report on the PPV ratings....

Actually die hard fans don't mean much because you will watch regardless, casual fans won't. CM Punk. while a talented wrestler, so far has not shown himself to be able to reach casual fans.

"Wouldn't you think a hot angle would at least maintain the average rating?"

Maybe not when the angle involves trashing the product and its makers and it rings true. And the messenger also says he is leaving the trash behind. And the trash continues otherwise.

So unless Punk is responsible for how this is playing out rather than just playing his part well, I'd suspect the blame can be laid mostly at WWE creative's lap, not Punks.

IF this is true, then the best hope for WWE is for Punk to now remain and take on teh Austin anti-hero role. Cena doing that in his place, which seems to be where this is heading currently based on the storyline, might work as well. Someone now has to take on the role of being the one to help correct all the wrongs that have been pointed out, that's for sure.

Interesting stuff even if ratings are not good at present. We'll see.

I questioned this angle from the very start. The reason I questioned it, is because they allowed CM Punk to say things to the audience that I correlate to a magician telling the crowd the secrets to his tricks. Once the secret of the trick is revealed, what's the point in seeing it again. I felt all this was, was a ploy by Vince McMahon to drive up the buy rate for MITB. I had a feeling it wasn't an introduction to a new era for the WWE.

I stated in a previous post that in order fo this angle to work, then everyone involved would have to go to the same places that Punk is going and for an extended period of time, but obviously they are not willing to go that far. Cena still hasn't addressed the ass kissing accusation, because he can't go there. Why not get Triple H out there, to respond to being called a doofus? Why not let Triple H be the corporate authority figure in the angle? Atleast then he and Punk could get physical. Vince is too old for that anymore.

The fact is people watch Raw to see somebody get their ass kicked, yet Punk hasn't been doing any of that lately. Two weeks ago, he walked out on a match with Kane, and the following week he was suspended, and this past week he didn't wrestle at all. You see, you can't just Talk the Talk, you have to Walk the Walk too. And Punk hasn't been doing much walking lately. Yes, The Rock and Stone Cold could talk up a storm, but people also tuned in to see them Lay the Smack Down, and stomp a mud hole into people. Punk needs to be booked strong in the ring, but he hasn't lately. Steve Austin fought his battles with McMahon not only through his promos, but through his actions as well. People don't tune in to Raw to see promos get cut for two hours, they want to see some action too.

If they are going to let Punk proclaim he's "The Best Wrestler in the World" and have it mean something, then he's the one that should be beating two men at once and not John Cena. But we all know that's not going to happen. That's why I felt WWE had dropped the ball on this. Are they going to let Punk run right through the WWE like they let Austin do it? No they won't, so again what's the point of this?

However, there are still a few things they can do to save this angle. Re-sign Punk and let him beat Cena clean or Turn Cena Heel and have him cheat to win. But again are they really going to do either of those things? I doubt it. Which again is why I question the reasoning to even go there. Driving up a PPV buy rate proves nothing if the next one goes right back down, and you lose momentum.

This whole things smells of being thrown together and not well thought out. But don't blame Punk for the ratings. The ratings have been slowly declining for years. Punk can't turn it all around by himself. The rating have steadily declined through the PG (Cena)era. So it doesn't surprise me that rating didn't spike for Punk.

The casual fan doesn't even know what Punk was talking about any way. They don't know who Colt Cabana is. They probably don't know Triple H is Vince McMahon's son in law. So a lot of what Punk said probably went over people's heads. If they give Punk time and give him the strong push he deserves, then you'll see ratings. But if they just half ass this thing like they've been doing, then it won't catch fire. Like I said before, Why start the fire if you're not prepared to deal with the enfurno that results from it? Vince McMahon wants an enferno, but also he wants to be able to control it.

I agree with Kevin that this is a cause for concern. If the WWE wrongly interprets the ratings, then we might never ever see something like this again. I think one of the problems here is that many members of target audience for CM Punk's worked shoots (adult males) have gotten used to watching the WWE through the internet. So there might well have been an increase in the number of people checking out the final segment of this show as compared to the final segment from Raw two weeks ago but the television rating alone won't reflect that.

Maybe for the sake of variety and storyline depth, the WWE should go back to all the wrestlers showing up on both shows in a continuing manner. The brand division is a joke anyway. Maybe that would strengthen the mid-card again.

The intro last nite on Raw was bad ass!! CM PUNK coming out to the band Living Colur "Cult of Personality" blaring brought me back to time in when wrestling rocked!!!!!

The ratings are low--for now--in part because many an ex-wrestling fan like myself simply fell out of the habit of thinking about Raw on Monday nights. Either way, as has been said, ratings are becoming an increasingly diminishing part of the equation for measuring the sport's popularity.

AMC-agree with you in part. WWE brass, if they're even a shadow of what used to be, will follow Punk's lead with the new "reality" angle. They must if they want to retain the interest that's been piqued in the past few weeks. And Cena definitely needs to turn heel. In fact, no wrestler since Hogan has needed to turn heel as badly as Cena does right now.

As for the lack of wrestling, I'm okay with it if they devote more time to developing actually compelling storylines and utilizing the mic skills of some underused talent. You're right that people want to see two guys beat the heck out of each other, but more importantly, they want to care about why the two guys are kicking the crap out of each other. That's partially what WWE's been lacking during its recent nadir.

I'm a little bit more optimistic about the potential for WWE to run with this, too. Why? Linda McMahon's no longer running for Congress. They have nothing to lose at this point (except tons of potential profits). Triple-H was there for the Attitude Era's rejuvenation of the company. The list could go on. Really, if they blow this, I'll be shocked.


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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
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