Wednesday Morning Backlash: 5 Thoughts on WWE (Raw and Smackdown Ratings, CM Punk)

Columns, Top Story

1. Raw’s second hour ratings have been tanking of late and for that, the blame almost has to fall on the man who’s been dominating those second hours: John Cena. The first hour of Raw has been doing very strong rating week after week, but when the second hour comes, it’s a steady decline to the John Cena main event. Traditionally that main event slot and overrun have been the strongest on the show, but now they’re the weakest. WWE really must try building to either different style main events or utilizing different talent in that “draw” spot to return ratings to their usual patterns. It’s too soon to panic, but not too soon to see what might remedy the situation.

2. I’ve been getting questions lately about why WWE shoots television in UK and Mexico only to have an entirely Amero-centric show, with specific angles that are really only important to America. The short version is that the television audience far outstrips the live audience, but the live audience can be boosted (and thus direct financials boosted) by doing a TV taping rather than another house show in that market. In addition, they feel like they get a boost from being able to hail Raw from an exotic place. That’s why you get Kelly Kelly promoting her US Maxim magazine appearance in UK or JR’s Michael Cole angle in Mexico (when JR doesn’t announce for WWE in Mexico) – WWE already has the live audience’s money and are now doing things for the television audience exclusively. The idea is that they tape in these locales so rarely, fans will be rabid for the product anyway by the time WWE returns and not hold the ethnocentric product against them.

3. A lot of what I enjoyed of Air Boom is their weird dynamic. Generally, face teams have one guy who’s there to take the beating and one guy to get the hot tag and rip stuff up. That’s the Midnight Express formula and one WWE have wholeheartedly embraced with everyone from the Dudleyz and Hardyz to Smoking Guns and Hart Foundation. Air Boom do something I can’t recall any regular WWE team doing since the Rockers. They have either man capable of “playing Ricky Morton” and either man capable of coming in and cleaning house. It isn’t hugely important on Raw matches, despite some unpredictability, but in a longer match, were they ever to get one, it could really add length and quality to the encounter with multiple heat and comeback sequences.

4. So, we can give up on Daniel Bryan now, right? Mark Henry is just straight up devouring him. They aren’t giving him a real push before Wrestlemania. Hell, they probably count this as his real opportunity to get over. Oops, Bryan fans. But a funny thing is happening. While Raw ratings go flying down with Cena on top, Smackdown ratings have been solid, even growing with Mark Henry on top, particularly as he faces names that aren’t established. No way WWE views this as anything but a fluke, but it probably isn’t and is a trend that bears watching. Basic booking with faces that aren’t in entirely familiar roles seems to be what the majority of the audience wants.

5. CM Punk, for as over as he is, is a bit underexposed on WWE television. Look at how many segments and how much time each segment that the John Cenas and Randy Ortons get. Punk, instead, will get either a match or a run in and a quick hallway encounter. This is absolutely to Punk’s benefit. Conventional wisdom has it that TV time is what gets you over, but that ignores the law of diminishing returns. If Punk is in every segment every week, like Cena, then the fans have no reason to want to see him, to eagerly anticipate his presence. Short burst of television time with a great quick promo or insult and then kicking someone’s ass? That’ll keep Punk’s star shining bright… and with Rock and Cena set to dominate air-time going forward, it seems like Punk is in quite the healthy position, even if he’s no longer a business changer.

Glazer is a former senior editor at Pulse Wrestling and editor and reviewer at The Comics Nexus.