In the world of professional wrestling, WWE’s Monday Night Raw has been a staple for decades. This flagship show has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but after a recent three-hour episode, it’s clear that WWE is focusing on delivering quality content to its dedicated fanbase.
While some might argue that WWE is in a hot period right now, the numbers, particularly in terms of viewership, don’t necessarily support that claim. Raw, which is WWE’s primary platform, occasionally dips below two million viewers. To put this in perspective, even during the dying days of WCW, a secondary show called Thunder still managed to garner a 2.6 rating, showcasing the popularity of wrestling during that era. So, it’s safe to say that WWE isn’t experiencing another boom, and recent success has been more about adapting to the changing landscape of the television business.
In fact, viewership declined for several years during Brock Lesnar’s title run and the ill-fated Roman Reigns super babyface push. However, despite the decline in viewership, WWE’s profit has hit record-setting levels, they completed a massive merger worth $21.9 billion, and their fan base remains engaged and willing to pay top dollar for signature pay-per-view events.
Just a few years ago, WWE had to bring Stone Cold Steve Austin out of retirement to boost ticket sales for Wrestlemania. In contrast, today, they’ve already sold more than 40,000 tickets for each night of Wrestlemania in Philadelphia next year.
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Interestingly, WWE’s current success has put some storylines in a holding pattern, waiting for the right moment to pay off at events like the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. The potential return of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in 2024 is a hot topic, as it could bring a tremendous boost to WWE’s stock, both financially and in terms of mainstream attention. If not The Rock, another exciting option on the horizon is a rematch between Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns, a match that has been a year in the making and promises to add depth to the ongoing storyline.
Cody Rhodes’s momentum has been surprisingly well-maintained, even after he failed to win the title at Wrestlemania. His feud with Brock Lesnar has kept him strong as one of the top performers in the company. However, his recent match with Damian Priest at Crown Jewel seemed like a rehash of the Lesnar feud, indicating that the office is biding its time until the individual storylines can fully unfold. The plan appears to be to keep Rhodes and Reigns apart until the time is right for their Wrestlemania rematch. Additionally, Damian Priest holds the Money in the Bank (MITB) contract, and WWE seems intent on keeping the audience guessing about when he might cash it in for a title shot.
Speaking of the MITB contract, Seth Rollins’s involvement in the championship picture seemed somewhat irrelevant. While Rollins is undoubtedly a tremendous performer, the character he portrays doesn’t quite fit in the current landscape. It seems like he’s a placeholder champion until the belt can be used to elevate another performer and give it more purpose.
Similarly, Drew McIntyre’s role as a challenger seems to be that of a placeholder. Despite his incredible talent, it appears that WWE has a “been there, done that” attitude regarding McIntyre as the champion. However, his role as a credible challenger remains intact.
This dynamic makes the entire Rollins/McIntyre angle somewhat moot, at least until Damian Priest’s potential cash-in comes into play.
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On a more positive note, the women’s division in WWE remains a strong point of Monday Night Raw. Rhea Ripley, in particular, stands out as a top-notch performer with the potential to be a major star for the next decade. The recent match setup at Crown Jewel served to push Rhea’s character forward, rather than stalling for a bigger angle in the future. Becky Lynch, as the NXT Women’s champion, has also added significant star power to the brand. Overall, the women’s division provides some of the best in-ring action and dynamic characters on Raw.
In summary, while a three-hour weekly show can sometimes feel tedious, WWE’s macro view is optimistic. The audience remains engaged, and there’s enough potential for compelling content in the near future, with matchups like Cody vs. Roman and the potential Damien Priest cash-in on the horizon. WWE is also on track to sell nearly 100,000 tickets for a two-night Wrestlemania event, which bodes well for the company’s future and its stock price under the TKO group.