Tha Sports Junkies 101

WWE Booking Killing Viewership

WWE Paul V via Commons.Wikimedia.org

WWE

WWE Raw Fails to Plan Ahead

As the product on Raw has progressed since WrestleMania, spontaneous booking has caused huge issues for the show. Despite having a talent pool rich in both skill and personality, WWE has fallen into the trap of consistently changing their direction. With little regard for the long term stories they are portraying, fans have grown tired of seeing the same matches week in and week out. Raw has seen a significant drop in viewership and it could get worse in the coming weeks.

Raw Shakeup Breakdown

On the Raw after WrestleMania, Vince McMahon told the world that there would be a Superstar Shakeup. This event would see talent from both Raw and Smackdown move to the opposing brand offering new matches and new possibilities. On the surface, this seemed like a great idea. Several weeks later, it is clear they failed to put the proper thought into who to move where and it has backfired. One great example is the moving of the Miz and Maryse to Raw and having them immediately start feuding with Dean Ambrose. The Shakeup was to offer something exciting and new. This feud had just drawn to a close on Smackdown two months prior.

The arrival of Bray Wyatt on the Red Brand could have held the promise of great things except he never got a title rematch after losing the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. A rematch is customary when someone loses a title. Then we have the debuts of mid level talent who have yet to make any sizable impact. Apollo Crews, Rhyno, Heath Slater, and Curt Hawkins have added nothing to the brand.

Long Term Planning Works

In the rise of the WWF in the early years of Vince McMahon’s reign atop the world’s largest wrestling promotion, stories would unfold over months of interaction. The feud between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant would play out over the course of two years. It started on Piper’s Pit, extended to WrestleMania III, rekindled on the Main Event, gained more momentum at WrestleMania IV, was resolved at the first Summer Slam. The intrigue was always there. It all made sense.

Now, WWE plans changes to prime story lines mere moments from going live on Monday nights. Bray Wyatt was scheduled to face Randy Orton in what we would expect to be his title rematch in a House of Horrors match. Unfortunately for Bray, the title isn’t on the line because Vince decided at the last minute to switch him to Raw where Brock Lesnar already holds the Universal Title. Instead, Bray was immediately thrust into a feud night one with Finn Balor. That match could be great as well. The problem is that two weeks later the story line has been dropped and Wyatt will now feud with Dean Ambrose. Who thinks this stuff up? Don’t they see how horrible this comes off? I can’t even tell who Finn Balor is actually feuding with right now.

Pay Per Views without Premium Talent

So now that we have moved talents around and established feuds only to drop or change them as the winds change, we have WWE Payback this Sunday night and the most significant talents brought to the brand in the Shakeup are missing from the card. The Superstar Shakeup got kicked off with the arrival of the Miz and Maryse. They have no role on the Payback card. Dean Ambrose is also without a match. For a guy who headlined several shows last year, he can’t find an opponent for a brand show. Essentially, one talent from the Shakeup has a match, Bray Wyatt, and his match is a Smackdown match. It doesn’t make sense.

Finn Balor is one of the most significant talents on the roster and like Samoa Joe at WrestleMania, he has no match on the card. Do you know who does? Enzo and Cass versus Gallows and Anderson for the 347th time in the last five months. This has had a dramatic effect on the viewership.

Nielsen Ratings Don’t Lie

Since the Post WrestleMania Raw, ratings have been plummeting to the point that this past week’s show was the lowest rated show since 1997. The show only drew in 3.007 million viewers which is 350,000 less than the previous week. There are only so many reasons this can happen. Raw episodes have been virtual clones of each other for months. Fans are clearly deciding to tune into other programming as they have no vested interest in seeing the same matches repeatedly. In addition, Pay Per Views matches have become blatantly obvious to predict. Is there anyone who believes that Chris Jericho will win the United States Title at Payback? He is leaving the company two nights later? This is one of the biggest issues with the booking. It is way too predictable.

Lesson Learned? Not yet.

What WWE needs to do is take a page out of their own historical book. They need to start planning feuds to last throughout a significant portion of the calendar year. Cultivate new feuds and stick with them once the debut one on a live show. There is a need to feature the talents that they have built the show around and insure that all of their upper echelon personalities are on every Pay Per View Event. Come on WWE. Give us better booking. If you book it, we will come!

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