"A strong end to a good year?"
So far 2010 has been a much better year for World Wrestling Entertainment, and more specifically, Monday Night Raw who have had a good year in terms of the product they have delivered and the recovery in ratings from their horrific lows hit in 2008. Finally, it seems that the PG product is catching on and for some whether they hate the PG rating or not, still seem to be watching.
However, disturbing news has come about this week's Raw Ratings. The show recorded a 2.8 cable rating, its lowest for about two years. Two years ago of course we had that damn awful GM called Mike Adamle! And after a three month spell as GM, he was swiftly removed from our television sets.
But yes, although the Guest Host concept seems to have flopped as the year has gone on, WWE have produced some very good moments this year. So before I look at what to expect for the rest of the year, here's a look at some of Raw's good calls this year.
One, bringing Bret Hart back on the first Raw of 2010 to go against TNA. That scored an impressive 3.6 cable rating.
Their ratings continued to climb as Stone Cold made a return to guest host Raw, that scored 3.7.
Then, Shawn Michaels and Undertaker put on another awesome Wrestlemania match with the Farewell Celebration, a truly emotional occasion, pulled in 3.7.
Raw then had its second Commercial Free episode, following on from the success of the "Trump Raw" in 2009. That still did okay hitting 3.4.
The week after The Nexus invasion hit another 3.4 rating on June 14th.
But what has also been a great success for Raw, is the ratings they've been scoring on the nights after PPV's. Generally, the show after a PPV tends to get good ratings but this has been noticeable this year. I only have efficient details for ratings after PPV's from May onwards but here are the ratings.
May 24th (after Over The Limit): 3.11 (down 0.29 on previous week)
*note: this was a week after the Commercial Free Raw which scored 3.4
the 3.11 rating was up on the previous 'normal' Raw episode of 3.05.
June 21st (after Fatal 4 Way): 3.52 (up 0.12 on previous week)
*note: Sheamus is the new WWE Champion + Nexus invaded at PPV.
July 19th (after Money in the Bank): 3.4 (up 0.07 on previous week)
*note: Miz won the MITB match
August 16th (after SummerSlam) 3.3 (no change on previous week)
*note: Daniel Bryan returned
Now I know, those are only four PPV's but, all ratings are no worse than their previous, commercial broadcasting shows. Which has to be a positive sign considering the lowly buys their PPV's have continued to do throughout the year.
The figures for Night of Champions have yet to have been released but I expect them to be better on last year's. The fact that despite it was a very good PPV, and the fact that the actual follow-up episode of Raw was solid, a 2.8 rating is of concern.
The following episode of Raw was taped so expect no change in the rating there and then comes Hell in a Cell. Hell in a Cell will have to produce something big to recover the ratings during the NFL season so here are a few things I expect the WWE to do between now and TLC in December.
1) Keeping all champions strong and credible.
Right now, the WWE, World Heavyweight, IC and US Champions are all strong and credible champions. Don't expect this to change, despite the pushing of new and young superstars. If Raw and WWE want to keep ratings strong they will want a strong champion. So don't expect Orton to be dropping the title to someone like Barrett or Sheamus.
The same goes for Kane, he may lose it to Taker but I'd be surprised if we saw Kofi or Swagger win the title between now and the night before TLC.
2) Expect the anonymous GM to be revealed.
It's been anonymous for three months now, don't expect that to go to six, particularly if ratings are in decline. Whether it be Triple H, Michael Cole or The Rock, expect the announcement to be big. After all, this build up as to who it could be wouldn't be for an anti-climax now would it creative?
3) The Miz will cash in his MITB Briefcase.
I'm not sure when, but it will happen. Maybe after Hell in a Cell, maybe on a bigger stage like Survivor Series but that's the only guy I see taking the WWE Title away from Orton. Of course, he doesn't have to cash it in successfully, but cash it in he shall.
4) The Nexus storyline to have another twist.
We're all currently being lulled into thinking The Nexus are slowly demising into a whimper, but there surely has to be another twist to the most talked about storyline of this year. Whether it be Cena joining Nexus at Hell in a Cell, or us finding out a leader behind The Nexus. Something will happen.
5) Triple H returning.
It's bound to happen, it's just when. Perhaps costing Sheamus the title at Hell in a Cell? But expect a grudge match at Bragging Rights or Survivor Series. There is talk of Triple H returning as the GM though.
6) An ex-Superstar returning.
If it does happen, it'd probably be for one night only but expect a big return for someone like The Rock, Stone Cold, maybe even Shawn Michaels or just more frequent appearances from Bret Hart but keep your eyes peeled for that.
If WWE doesn't want to lose their audience over the next few months then some "big" things are going to have to happen. They don't want their ratings to go down the pan like they did two years ago and then have to work their asses off to bring the viewers back again. (Which they successfully did). So, let's not go hiding and scrutinise every single move they make, leave that for December when we can look back at the good and bad of this year.
For now though, let's look forward to what we might see and what we've got at the moment which is a potentially awesome Hell in a Cell PPV.