WWE Main Event aired its premiere episode this past Wednesday on Ion Television, and despite the fact that the network is known mostly for reruns of existing cable series, the newest block of original content from WWE drew some impressive numbers for the channel formerly known as Pax TV.
The Wrestling Observer reported that the one-hour program, featuring CM Punk vs. Sheamus and Zack Ryder and Santino Marella against Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd, averaged 1.39 million viewers. This included the highest male audience in the last year for Ion, something that it needs to separate itself from the rest of the channels who broadcast repeat episodes of Law & Order and Criminal Minds.
The question likely on both WWE's and Ion's minds is whether or not this kind of audience will stay consistent. I see no reason why it should not stay this way.
WWE now has four separate television programs to broadcast on cable and satellite in the United States. Plenty of people tune in to Raw on Monday nights and get their fill of WWE for the entire week on those three hours...or, in some cases, only a little bit of the show before turning it off. These are the casual fans who may not even be paying attention to ads for anything related to other programming, with the exception of an upcoming pay-per-view.
Then, there are those of us who absorb and digest everything the WWE feeds us. After watching WWE Main Event, I have some very fond flashbacks of eschewing my social life to stay in and watch WWE Velocity, one of the best B-shows the company has ever produced and put on late-night cable television.
You were guaranteed some quality wrestling and a recap or two of current events taking place on the SmackDown side of the roster.
I would like to see WWE go with this approach in order to keep Main Event relevant and entertaining. This past Wednesday, it was all about seeing CM Punk vs. Sheamus in the ring. We got old-school interviews with both men before and after the match, which is a touch that a show like Raw simply does not have time for when trying to further storylines for everyone on the roster.
I cannot remember the last time I saw such a classic approach to a hyped match, and WWE should be praised for a simplistic concept being utilized in 2012.
There will be temptation to stack the show in the future with multiple matches, but I say save that for SmackDown. The name "Main Event" lends itself to one big fight, and watching the process of the show made it feel like the match really meant something.
Punk and Sheamus both talked before they made their entrances, and despite it not being a WWE or World Heavyweight Championship match, we were given in-ring introductions for each man by Lilian Garcia. We also saw Michael Cole and The Miz discussing the match in the ring before they got on commentary, which should have given everyone watching another healthy injection of nostalgia.
This type of show will not be for everyone who currently watches WWE Raw, and that's fine. I would not expect every regular viewer of Raw to wake up and watch Saturday Morning Slam, WWE's only TV-G show aimed specifically at kids.
I think Main Event can fill a nice void, one for the people who truly love WWE but crave just a little bit more in-ring action every week. While the format of television will necessitate the usual hangups of commercial breaks, CM Punk vs. Sheamus lasted longer than just about any other TV match this year.
One other random observation: There was not a single recap video shown during the entire broadcast.
I am very happy to see WWE Main Event being labeled a success by both the network as well as Vince McMahon. This is nothing but good news for hardcore wrestling fans who should look forward to another hour of original content from WWE, and hopefully the best wrestlers in the company get their chance to show off some long matches every week.
I can think of no reason why this show will not be something for Ion Television to throw its entire weight behind, seeing as it is currently its only original show.