WWE had some reason to be disappointed in the viewership’s of both Raw and Smackdown this week. Raw drew 3,339 million viewers, with many falling off by the third hour, while Smackdown had a viewership of 2,627 million.
As I sat and watched the segment involving Goldberg on Raw this Monday, all I could think is that this guy walked onto Raw a few months back, having done nothing in wrestling for years, has made limited appearances and is instantly one of, if not the best built good guy on the roster. This speaks both highly of the creative team because they’ve made Goldberg such an effective fan favourite but a negative reflection as it also begs the question, why does a guy who’s had such limited TV time do this so easily, but you can’t make guys with plenty more time on TV even half as liked by the fans. Possibly the extra TV time is the problem, over exposure certainly can have negative effects. People were so excited to see Seth Rollins come to the main roster years ago and now whenever he’s on TV, sure he’s popular but it isn’t at the same level, it’s not special anymore, you can see him every week. Although the extra TV time does just give the WWE additional time to mess up characters. Goldberg has been made to look like a complete badass. He defeated Brock Lesnar in quick fashion, he’s still got one of the best entrances of all time in my opinion, he is intense and I mean the guy put himself on the list and won’t back down from a fight. That’s what people want in their fan favourites.
Over on Smackdown, maybe they are starting to build an effective good guy in Luke Harper. As I said last week, it will take some commitment from the WWE to teach their viewers that Luke Harper can be considered as a main event level guy. There is no question he has the talent, but when you condition your audience to view someone as a second or third wheel to other people and as someone who would generally take the loses for Bray Wyatt, the fans won’t necessarily just believe over night that Harper is suddenly a level or two above where he was before, but you can teach them to think that way. The issue is at the moment that it would make sense for Harper to have big matches with both Orton and Wyatt. However, with Orton and Wyatt looking like they’ll be positioned more highly at Wrestlemania, if those matches happen it will likely be Harper losing. I’m not sure I want to see Harper used as a pawn in the greater story of Orton Vs Wyatt. I personally am a fan of the idea of Wyatt winning the WWE title to then face Orton for it at Wrestlemania; however, I’m more of a fan of inserting Harper into that match and making it a triple threat as he has been just a big of cog in this story as the other two.
After Wrestlemania it always feels like WWE starts somewhat of a new “season” it feels refreshed and it tends to be a time of change. Some may be anticipating a draft around this time and while I wouldn’t rule it out, it certainly does seem a bit too early. However, I am hopeful that the WWE will somehow find a way to get the cruiserweights on Smackdown. I find myself not caring about the cruiserweights on Raw to then finding 205 Live to be a highlight of my week. This was added to this week with a fantastic 205 Live main event that probably got the most reaction from the crowd I’ve seen on 205 Live. Not only would it make sense logistically for the cruiserweights to be part of Smackdown in order to have them working the same day, rather than both, but the Cruiserweights feel lost in the shuffle on Raw and with Raw being the brand that people are down on at the moment, it makes it tougher to popularize a new division using it as a platform. Plus the division just seems to be a natural fit for Smackdown and the Smackdown roster instantly allows for more cross over between the roster and the cruiserweights. Obviously this would allow Kalisto to be a part of 205 Live and he would instantly be one of the top stars, but Apollo Crews is a guy who could really do with something new and his friendship with Akira Tozawa is well known, a tag team between them would be interesting to see on the level of WWE and there is no doubt in my mind Tozawa is one of the most able on 205 Live to be mixed with the rest of the wrestlers. Guys like Tajiri and Brain Kendrick would also be helpful on the Smackdown brand as they could seamlessly transition between being a cruiserweight and working with bigger guys and their experience would be helpful for some of the younger wrestlers on the roster.
Smackdown’s women’s division is evidently on a roll right now. None of the matches are quite reaching Bayley Vs Sasha Banks levels and it’s also true that none of the feuds are quite on the level of Trish Vs Lita. However, it will always be dangerous to compare everything to the very best comparisons possible. With three individual feuds going on in the division right now, while none of them may be remembered as all-time classics, they also won’t be remembered as being bad. Three solid feuds all with proper reasoning that isn’t insulting or relaying on women’s looks ongoing at the same time and all three getting matches at Smackdown’s Pay per View this Sunday. That’s certainly progress and what makes it better is that WWE isn’t constantly marketing to the viewer about how much progress it is which ends up making it come off as manufactured and forced. Instead it appears natural and you can’t really argue that any of the matches don’t deserve to be on the card, all the women involved have earned their spots, instead of being handed them in the name of equality or progress. Which ironically means it’s true, genuine progress and equality.
With Smackdown providing Backlash from the Elimination Chamber I’d imagine it will do a decent viewership next week. Raw’s viewership is hard to predict at the moment as I wouldn’t have expected the drop this week. Nonetheless with the bad rating this week I’d expect WWE to ramp up the promotion for this week’s Raw, probably offering a few big appearances such as Brock Lesnar, so I’m predicting both shows will experience higher viewership’s next week.