I mentioned this in last week’s space, but WWE’s ratings are declining. Okay, I think the better term is probably declined. Sunk. Disaster. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, Monday Night Raw had its lowest rating in 18 years (2.7) this past Monday night. 3.3 million people tuned into seeing a main event of Roman Reigns, last year’s WrestleMania main eventer, take on archrival and main event caliber heel in Bray Wyatt. To me, this is the scariest thing. I want to blame the ratings on the reemergence of Kane in the WWE World Title picture or perhaps John Cena burying another wrestler. I want to blame the ratings on Monday Night Football or a crazy episode of Dancing With the Stars. Except I can’t. Kane and Seth Rollins were highlighted at the beginning of the 10:00 hour, while John Cena opened the show. Monday Night Football was essentially a blowout and evidently Kim Zolciak was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars because she couldn’t make it to the show (thanks google and Mom).
The current ratings catastrophe will fall on Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt, but really should fall on Vince McMahon. Reigns and Wyatt are two of the younger, more popular stars that WWE has developed in the last decade. But on a Monday night where the football game didn’t matter and these two had a war that was built up for the entirety of three hours, nobody cared. According to Meltzer, 3.19 million people watched this, the second lowest third hour of viewership in Raw history. The ratings plummeted throughout the show despite the buildup. The unfortunate and obvious reason is because not enough people care about Roman Reigns or Bray Wyatt. This again falls on Vince McMahon.
John Cena is a made man. Merchandise, ticket sales, and ratings has always proven this. Cena though is 38 years old and has been on top of the company for over a decade. This is Hulk Hogan like longevity. With the over reliance on Cena, WWE is barren of another true star. Sure, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins are very good at what they do, but they aren’t at this moment the man. When fans know that ultimately #lolCenawins, they have absolutely no reason to tune in. When they know that Bray Wyatt, who couldn’t beat John Cena for three months straight earlier this year, is in the main event, they tune out. They just haven’t been given a reason to care about him anymore.
Besides Cena, WWE has only one other legitimate star in Brock Lesnar. Diehard and casual fans alike will turn on Raw to see what Lesnar is up to. But, it’s not that is thanks to WWE either. Yes, back in 2002, they made Lesnar an unstoppable monster. But, over the last decade, Lesnar REALLY was an unstoppable monster. His aura just screams different, real, and scary. We want to see what Lesnar is going to do next; we don’t care what a guy like Bray Wyatt will do next. Lesnar spikes ratings, which is why WWE pays him as much as they do for limited appearances. Every time he shows up, it means something. There’s not a single wrestler, including Cena, they can say that about.
Now, WWE will dive back into the past, and think that is a short-term solution. Bring back Austin, the Rock, Flair, and the Undertaker. Ratings will pop and all will be right in their eyes. Hey, the network is doing well, so they are fine they’ll say. But the larger problem will still remain. The reason they can keep diving into the past is because they successfully created talent back then. The Rock, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Triple H, Chris Jericho, Mick Foley, and the Undertaker were all in WWE in the late nineties, rotating in and out of the main event picture. They are all current or future Hall of Famers because they were given an opportunity to succeed. Today? John Cena is given a chance on a weekly basis and that’s it. Despite Seth Rollins having been WWE World Champion since April, I am willing to bet he has lost more matches than he has won since then. How can you have your WWE World Champion lose on a weekly basis? How can you have your United States Champion (John Cena) constantly defeat your WWE World Champion cleanly repeatedly and expect to “make” Rollins?
In fact, everything WWE does currently is repetitive. If you’ve seen one Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev match, you’ve seen 1000 of them. Every beat, in every feud, is familiar. The same boring tag and six man tag matches; the same rematches; the same everything. Here are five things WWE can do to change and hopefully bring the ratings up.