Hello Pulsers, and welcome back to Penny’s annual mania countdown. Starting today and concluding on Mania Morning, as with every year I’ll dissect everything going on in the plane of existence known as DUBBA YEW DUBBA YEW EEEEEEEE! And let’s start with the very thing I just referenced.
After YEARS of stagnant story-telling, feud recycling, and dwindling viewer interest because WWE had become so boring and predictable and uninteresting in SO many ways, (aside of a few bright spots that were basically the only things keeping fans around like Styles, Nakamora, Asuka and the mostly can’t miss humour of the New Day), we’re FINALLY starting to see some of the NXT magic creep up to the main product and see stuff Vince would normally never approve get on TV. From The Ultimate Deletion actually making it to air to the Womens’ Rumble main-eventing, things are finally starting to give the audience hope for the product shaking it’s stale predictability.
It’s depressing that the main reason for this is Vince’s Conservative Racism and friendship with Trumplethinskin, but if Vince wants to run off to revive a doomed vanity project so he can have football where no one kneels in peaceful protect so his friend Donny Rapeypants can watch football without being offended by a peaceful protest against rampant police brutality, well, hey! We get more TV run by Tripsy! And while it should be no surprise to see Vince revealing what a racist shitbag he truly is, (wrestlers of colour who left the WWE have been saying it for years; the only black wrestlers Vince likes are those who draw better money than his white boys), we DO get the silver lining here of Vince putting so much focus into getting his KKXFL revival off the ground that he has mostly handed off full control of WWE booking to Tripsy. Vince still throws his weight around on his pet projects, which is why we’re still getting Reigns/Lesnar II next weekend, but beyond that he’s all but officially backed off. And it shows.
If Vince was still 100% the final word on what gets on TV, Ultimate Deletion would NEVER have made it on air. Hell the rumour is that Michael Cole’s utterly obnoxious attempts to undermine Ultimate Deletion came FROM Vince himself. If that’s true it means Vince doesn’t like or get Matt Hardy’s creativity and had Cole be his mouthpiece, but is thankfully too wrapped up in his fantasy football league to actually step in and put a stop to it. Maybe he was hoping it would fail miserably so he could have his ego stroked and tell himself it proves he knows best and reassure him that he can never fail in his booking no matter how often audience reactions tell him otherwise.
Except it didn’t fail. Yes Ultimate Deletion didn’t magically triple the ratings, but it proved itself a success and proved the audience does indeed want something different and new, because thanks to Ultimate Deletion, for the first time in nearly 4 years, Raw didn’t experience a 1 point or higher ratings drop-off in the third hour. You see, one of the most consistent criticisms of Raw’s third hour is audience burnout. For years Raw loses at least an entire ratings point by the third hour. It’s Raw, not a PPV. The audience just isn’t as invested in a weekly tv show as they are for a PPV. They get burnt out by too much of the product, and the ratings reflect that. The third hour ratings drop-off has been a constant for years.
And Ultimate Deletion prevented it last week. For the first time in years there WAS no third hour ratings drop-off. Raw held steady at over 3 million viewers throughout hour three because people WANTED to see Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt go Batshit at the Hardy Compound. They WANTED to see Reby Hardy at the piano. They WANTED to see Vanguard 1 observing the proceedings. They WANTED to see Senor` Benjamin. They WANTED Brother Nero. The audience knew they were going to see something different from the same old recycled main events they get over and over and over and THEY STUCK AROUND TO WATCH IT. And that happened because TRIPSY, NOT Vince, had faith enough in the talent to let Vince’s leash on the booking go slack. Tripsy trusted Matt to create something special and entertaining, and now almost two weeks since last week’s Raw, people are STILL talking about it. Whether they loved it or hated it or were just confused by it, they’re TALKING about it. How often does something happen on Raw that the fans are still talking about after a couple days? And this is considering that one night later Daniel Bryan announced he had FINALLY convinced WWE to clear him to wrestle.
At ANY other time Danial’s big news would have buried anything that happened on Raw the night before. But Ultimate Deletion is still being talked about as much as Bryan’s unretirement. Because it was entertaining and different.
Granted, there are still a few examples of bad ideas and tone-deaf booking. Rusev is possibly one of the single most over acts in the entire company right now but they’re ignoring fan response to him and he’s just sort of adrift in the WWE flotsam. Lesnar has still consistently been booked to bury everyone he fights making WWE guys look weak. They continue to waste airtime on Jinder Mahal so that they don’t have to publicly admit he was only ever pushed because they were making inroads to the Indian TV market. Pet projects like Roman and Baron Corbin still get pushed despite being rejected by the crowd because they’re pet projects. And the ‘E keeps hiring celebrity part timers to take airtime away from the wrestlers who are there every single week fighting for a spot.
And in tomorrow’s column, we’ll look at the most glaring example of that and why it only hurts the product. Especially when the person in question is a transphobic bigot who slut-shames rape survivors and mocks people who attempt suicide.
See you tomorrow for Day 9!