Raw ratings have been a bit of a talking point in recent weeks. Mostly as in the distinct lack thereof. In the weeks since WrestleMania, the Monday night brand has dropped from an audience of 2.5 million to 2.37 million to 2.15 million. This revealed a disturbing trend, highlighting the troubling tailspin the red brand has found itself in of late.
Compounding these numbers is the fact that WWE’s other main brand hasn’t exactly been knocking it out of the park either. With the flagship program in trouble, SmackDown drew a poultry 2.07 million pairs of eyeballs last week (down from an already poor 2.22 million the week prior).
To put that in context: in 2010, TNA attempted to revive the long-slumbering Monday Night Wars, as it shifted its programming to go head-to-head with Raw. On its first night of direct competition, TNA recorded a viewership of 1.4 million, against Raw’s 5.1 million.
Ten years ago those numbers made TNA a laughing stock. In 2019, that may soon become a regular night for SmackDown Live.
So it was against this backdrop that Raw kicked off last night. With the desperate need to do something – anything – to bring wrestling fans back to their TV screens. This recurring theme was something first alluded to by Vince McMahon, as he addressed the crowd to open the show:
“This Raw will be something special. One for the ages. One that you will never forget.“
So what would Raw do to live up to that lofty pledge? Bring back a legend? Call up more NXT acts? Maybe rely on sustained, rational, long-term booking methods to build champions, challengers and titles?
Don’t be ridiculous, they just brought back Roman Reigns.
And then, despite having advertised ‘the Big Dog’s appearance for most of the last week, his presence prompted a dumbfounded Vince to exclaim: “You’ve been assigned to SmackDown! Who the hell do you think you are?”
What do you mean? You presumably brought him in, Vince!
This was a worrying start, characterised by incomprehensible indignation from Vince and the absence of any storyline reason for this continued brand hopping. But surely, I pleaded, it could only get better from there. Surely it couldn’t get any worse. Right?
On with the review.