In case you weren’t watching “Monday Night Raw” last night, there’s a good chance you were watching “Monday Night Football” instead. Last night’s game was a bigger draw than usual with the release of the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. It was a huge draw for the game, which probably brought in a lot of people who normally wouldn’t watch the broadcast in the first place. The announcement was a big deal and was heavily publicized on TV and online leading up to “Monday Night Football.” Now let’s take a look at why WWE needed to take a lesson from the NFL.
So how did WWE market this? Well according to the Five Point Preview on WWE.com, the featured attractions were:
1. Brock Lesnar and Undertaker. This happened, but both were gone after the first fifteen minutes with no physical contact.
2. Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. They were both on the show, but Austin, who would have been a much bigger draw, wasn’t mentioned in the preview and his status was changed back and forth for weeks leading up to the show, with Austin himself saying on Twitter that he wouldn’t be on the show six days in advance. Austin did appear….for about five minutes. He said “Wrestlemania XXXII” would be in Dallas, plugged his podcast with Lesnar and introduced the Undertaker. This opened the show, which we’ll come back to later.
3. A prophecy from Bray Wyatt. The Wyatts (with Erick Rowan replacing Luke Harper with no notice) were on the show but Bray didn’t have anything to say. He and Roman Reigns were in the ring together but Reigns did all the talking. This announced prophecy just didn’t happen and there’s no other way to put it.
4. Something about PCB and Natalya being attacked on Smackdown. This didn’t really happen either but Paige did deny being behind the attack. It’s better than nothing at least.
5. More on Kane vs. Seth Rollins for the pay per view. Again, this didn’t really happen. Kane wasn’t on the show whatsoever, Rollins barely talked about him and spent most of the night trying to prove himself to Triple H and Michaels by showing he could wrestle twice. We’ll get back to the second match in a bit as well, but there was little to no hype for the title defense.
So out of five points we had a meaningless staredown, an accurate preview that left out the biggest star they could have advertised, something that didn’t happen, something that kind of happened, and something else that didn’t happen. WWE released this preview earlier in the day and forty percent of what they advertised didn’t happen that evening. The sixty percent that did happen ranged from nothing to incomplete to insignificant.
As screwed up as the preview for this show was, the show actually drew higher numbers than it has in recent weeks with an average of 3.36 million viewers over the three hours. The viewer breakdown was:
Hour #1: 3.6 million
Hour #2: 3.35 million
Hour #3: 3.12 million
Now let’s take a look at the order of some of the events on last night’s show. As I mentioned, Austin opened the show. This was Austin’s first appearance on “Monday Night Raw” in four years, meaning it was quite the moment. It’s pretty safe to say that this was the biggest attraction of the night, even though it wasn’t clear that he would be appearing.
Austin’s hour was the strongest (which may or may not be due to Austin as it’s also the only hour unopposed by “Monday Night Football” but for the sake of argument we’ll say it’s mainly due to Austin.), aided by the Undertaker and Lesnar also appearing. Again, we’ll come back to this.
As I also mentioned earlier, Rollins wrestled twice. After beating Ryback in a non-title match (which was a GREAT way to make me care about Ryback’s Intercontinental Title shot on Sunday. Yes I’m sure the way to build someone up is to have him lose clean in four minutes less than a week before his title shot. Owens could have interfered and caused a countout to give you the same result but no, instead just have him get pinned clean like any given jobber), Rollins decided he needed to prove that he could go twice in one night. This led to him agreeing to team up with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns in a six man tag.
So yes the Shield was back for one night only (WWE tried to say it wasn’t a reunion even though that’s clearly what it was, even if for just one match). One of the biggest weapons WWE has left that is guaranteed to draw an audience (even for this unofficial and nowhere near as big as it’s going to be version) and they use it on a random episode of “Monday Night Raw”. It gets better though as this match had roughly 30 minutes notice. The match main evented the show and ran about fifteen minutes. It was announced at about fifteen minutes after the start of the third hour.
The two biggest things this show had to offer were a combination of not announced and given a half hour of notice. Austin opening the show was a waste. The people know Austin is there for his podcast, so why not wait until later in the show to have him come out? Build him up and give the people a reason to keep watching the show as football is coming on. Why waste such a big attraction when you could have kept people flipping back and forth to see if he’s there yet or not? No instead just put him out there in a meaningless five minute cameo and then don’t have him do anything else all night.
That leaves me with the Shield and brings me back to the beginning with the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer. If you watch television of any kind of spend any time whatsoever on the internet, odds are you know that the movie is coming out in December. It’s one of the biggest films to be released in years and is probably going to make well over $1 billion. People have been talking about this movie for well over a year and tickets went on sale two months in advance.
If that’s not you cup of tea and you only prefer wrestling, the tickets for “Wrestlemania XXXII” go on sale early next month, or roughly five months before the show. WWE spends all year hyping up Wrestlemania as the be all, end all of its events, which is certainly true. If you’re a WWE fan of any level, you know about Wrestlemania and you’ll hear about it in some form on almost any show you watch.
So why doesn’t WWE do the same for their matches? When is the last time you saw a match advertised a week in advance for “Monday Night Raw”? A few weeks ago Sting had his first two matches on “Monday Night Raw” in one night and it was announced earlier in the show. The same thing happened last night: a big match was set up and executed in the span of less than an hour.
It’s a waste of the potential viewers that might want to see something like that. The only ways you knew that match last night or the Sting match from a few weeks ago were going to happen were if you watched the show from the start or happened to catch that one stretch in the last hour. Why in the world would you not spend more time building this up. How hard is it to do this:
Rollins hears about how Triple H and Shawn used to wrestle for a long time. He talks about how tough it is to fight Ryback one on one but Triple H laughs it off. Wanting to prove himself, Rollins says he’ll go twice next week to show what he can do. Triple H puts him in the match with Ambrose and Reigns to let Rollins prove himself on a high level and gives him a week to think about it.
That accomplishes the same thing and gives you a week to get ready for it, as well as to let the fans think about what they’re going to see. Look back to “Wrestlemania XXVIII” with The Rock vs. John Cena getting a year of buildup. By the time the match happened, the fans needed to see it. Not wanted to, but needed to. Not every big match is Rock vs. Cena, but it might deserve more build time than the Rock vs. Cena match itself had (30:34).
Disney doesn’t hide the fact that the original cast is coming back for the new Star Wars movie and they aren’t announcing the movie a day before it premieres. They’ve got the fans drooling to finally see the movie and are doing everything they can to build the anticipation more and more. The only thing WWE has its fans doing is fuming at the company for not letting them know what was coming last night, which wouldn’t make me want to watch more. It would make me question why I care about this stuff if WWE clearly doesn’t care about letting me know about it. That’s not good and it hasn’t been for a long time.
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