Welcome everyone to my first in what I hope will be a weekly column I like to call “In This Corner”. Here I will examine some of the hot button topics in professional wrestling. This week we’ll take a look at the poor ratings RAW has had recently.
RAW has suffered it’s worst rating in the 25 plus year existence of the show recently, and ratings overall have not been good. Let’s breakdown some of the potential reasons, and what could be done to fix them.
Lack of Quality Story Lines
Historically, ratings take a bit of a dip after Wrestlemania season. However, in recent years, this is the time for returning/injured superstars to make their comeback, or the time that NXT call ups occur. Currently the top story line on RAW involves Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey. The feud has had little buildup, and has the potential to be a marquee, main event match up for WWE. The rise of Rousey appears to be forced, and has been questioned by multiple wrestling critics as to why a title match is occurring while she has never had a televised singles match.
The Bobby Lashley/Sami Zayn story line feels forced, as does Roman Reigns and Jinder Mahal. The one promising feud between Seth Rollins and Elias feels rushed just to fill a spot for an Intercontinental title defense at the upcoming Money In the Bank pay-per-view. There are no story lines related to John Cena, Brock Lesnar, or the Tag Team Champions of Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt. Speaking of John Cena….
The John Cena Effect
Love him or hate him, John Cena has been the cash cow for the WWE for well over the last decade. Cena is a polarizing figure that has been both a top ratings draw and merchandise seller. While it’s understood the WWE cannot rely on him forever, we haven’t heard much in regards to Cena since Wrestlemania.
John Cena is still a valuable asset to WWE, and while the star doesn’t shine as much as it used to, Cena can be used to help put over talent, while not necessarily becoming a job guy.
The Lack Of Brock Lesnar
Let’s face it, whether you agree with it or not, right now, Brock Lesnar is the top draw in WWE. He really is the only true attraction the company he has, and the only star that continues to have people’s interest. With that being said, it is hard to have your World Champion make minimal appearances a year, and be involved with very few storylines. While I grew up in the era of the 80’s where you never saw Hulk Hogan wrestle a weekly TV match, he was still always involved in some type of storyline.
Weak Tag Team Division
The tag team division on RAW is as weak as it has ever been. While the quantity is there, the quality is lacking. You have perennial jobbers/comedy acts such as The Ascension, Breezango, Titus World Wide, and Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. While the stronger teams of Dolph Ziggler and Drew Mcintyre and The Revival are not booked correctly. I would much rather see either of those two teams have a lengthy title reign than than Axel and Dallas, the current number one contenders for the RAW Tag Team Championships
Lack Of Stars In General
While RAW’s roster is deep, it feels like the star power just isn’t there. The handling of wrestlers like Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt, Kevin Owens, Bobby Lashley, and most importantly Braun Strowman is mind boggling at best. If WWE ever had a chance to take the title off Brock Lesnar and shoot a star into the stratosphere, they had it and lost it with Braun Strowman.
Let’s Fix It
While some of the reasons for RAW’s rating slump may be obvious, what may not be so obvious is what can be done to fix it.
As much of a top draw as Brock Lesnar is, the title needs to come off of him. The most likely scenario would be Lesnar losing the title at Summer Slam to whomever will cash in their Money In The Bank briefcase. Lesnar could essentially lose without being pinned, thus not hurting his character. It would be more logical for Lesnar to lose the title clean. An end to a historic title reign. While Braun Strowman makes sense in this situation, I feel that it wouldn’t mean as much as it would of in 2017. With that in mind, Finn Balor cashes in after winning Money In The Bank, thus elevating himself in WWE
The tag team division doesn’t give us much to work with, but there is potential in a feud between the Revival and Ziggler/McIntyre. It’s a tag team feud that can carry the division throughout the summer.
Elias and Seth Rollins will have their short feud culminate at Summer Slam with Elias picking up the victory and the Intercontinental championship. Elias is both over with the crowd, and a great heel. All is not lost for Rollins as he will go on to rekindle his previous feud with Finn Balor.
Multiple directions can be taken with the Women’s Division. Rhonda Rousey may be the future centerpiece, however, she is not ready. Natalya will cause Rhonda to lose her match with Nia Jax at Money In the Bank, thus giving us an intriguing match up. Rhonda obviously has the athletic background, while Natalya has the technical wrestling background. While it isn’t the marquee women’s feud, that will happen Sasha Banks and Bayley.
While they may not be able to recapture the magic from their classic NXT matches, it is the match that could clearly main event a pay per view. The build for this match has been classic. Are they friends, are they going to feud, who will turn, who is the heel? No gimmicks or titles are needed for this one.
RAW has one of the deepest rosters in history, there is potential to turn the ratings around. What are your thoughts? What would you do differently? Discuss below!