Wednesday, October 14, 2015

This. Is. RAWCenter.

Rollins heralded WWE's partnership with ESPN last night
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ESPN has had a mostly hands-off relationship with professional wrestling ever since it stopped airing the AWA in 1990. That status changed in April, when Brock Lesnar took to SportsCenter to announce that he had re-signed with WWE, spurning an offer from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Then, in August, the Worldwide Leader in Sports sent former WWE employee Jonathan Coachman to cover SummerSlam in Brooklyn. Last night, on SportsCenter, WWE Champion Seth Rollins appeared to usher in another step in the partnership between the leaders in sports media and sports entertainment. The 9 PM Tuesday broadcast of SportsCenter, which appears on ESPN News, will contain a recap of Monday Night RAW and feature WWE superstars.

The move to cover WWE right now feels curious to some in the face of low ratings. RAW is setting records with how few people watch the show live, but at the same time, cultural penetration may not necessarily correlate with overnight ratings, especially during football season. Wrestling right now still has a decent pop culture cache, enough that ESPN is not afraid to dedicate a small block of time on its "C" network to the company. WWE superstars are still making appearances on TV shows and movies, and I've found that I don't need to whisper to people that I like pro wrestling anymore. Oh, and John Cena is doing a mainstream television show about fitness.

Yes, Cena has been confirmed as filming a "fitness reality television program" during his hiatus between Hell in a Cell and late December, when he's back in the advertising for WWE programming. This news puts a little bit of clarity as to why the biggest star in WWE would miss a chunk of time for reasons other than injury, but it's good that he'll get away from WWE television, just for freshness reasons. Then again, Cena has been the one of the best parts of the show, and the prospect of him dropping the United States Championship to Dolph Ziggler seems less than optimal at this point. Imagine that, touting Cena over Ziggler as a positive on the show. My how 2015 has gotten strange in the world of rasslin'.