Friday, July 3, 2015

Everybody Took the Week off From Watching Wrestling

Ethan Carter III's big moment was not seen by many people
Photo Credit: Lee South/
The ratings for RAW on Monday were abysmally bad if you haven't read already. It drew its second-lowest non-holiday rating ever, going up against not a whole lot in terms of competition either. ESPN aired a baseball game on national television, and that was it. Anyway, longtime readers of TWB know my thoughts about ratings, or at least paying attention to week-to-week ratings. Plus, it still was the highest-rated show on Monday, so it's not really that much of a big deal.

But then the viewership numbers from Destination America came in for both TNA and Ring of Honor. TNA's viewership dropped from 451,000 viewers to 318,000. ROH's drop went from 330,000 to 238,000. Pretty much, people flocked away from the three flagship wrestling programs this week for the big American wrestling companies. It's only one week of ratings drop, sure, so it's not endemic of any kind of exodus away from being a wrestling fan. No real reason can be discerned without polling every single person who chose not to watch this week. But it is funny to see all three viewership numbers drop that much.

Of course, RAW and ROH can be easily explained. RAW came off a week where the company tried making Brock Lesnar show vulnerability to draw more interest for Battleground, and it apparently flopped. Additionally, RAW has pretty much been the same thing for the last, what, two years now? It's not a must-see show every week. ROH was once again in "replay the NJPW joint show footage" mode, this time airing matches from the two Philadelphia shows, which were taped before the Best in the World pay-per-view. The narrative is in neutral right now, so it might follow that people thought they could take the week off. Of course, I could be off-base on both of those analyses, and maybe fans just wanted to take a mental health holiday from wrestling.

But TNA's drop in rating has to be especially disheartening. Last night's show was the culmination of a build towards Ethan Carter III's big title win, and it continued the trend of dropping viewers like flies. Week-to-week ratings don't necessarily matter when you're WWE and your patterns have been stuck in a rut for the last infinity years since the Attitude Era, but when the viewers have been steadily declining like TNA's have, then it might be time to panic.

But then again, everything might rebound next week. Ratings, especially now when people watch stuff on DVR, replays, on-demand, or through other digital avenues, legal or not, are volatile in some respects, especially for wrestling, the only televised thing that has first-run material every single week (Lucha Underground notwithstanding). It not only makes sense to take a few weeks off here and there, but it is probably mentally healthy to do so. It's just funny to see all three big companies (or one big company and two mid-level ones) drop off so drastically for a week. It probably doesn't mean anything, but it's definitely something to see.