The WWE has not only seen their television ratings drop since WrestleMania 33, but they have also seen attendance drop at live events, and more distressingly, at the recent Backlash pay-per-view. In a recent breakdown of numbers by Forbes, the number drops seemed to coincide with the absence of both Brock Lesnar and John Cena.
When asked who the two biggest draws in the WWE today were, professional wrestling insider Dave Meltzer matter-of-factly stated that it was John Cena and Brock Lesnar. That might not be what the WWE wants fans to believe with the way they are pushing Roman Reigns.
However, the Monday Night Raw numbers did increase when Braun Strowman was on the show destroying Roman Reigns. Ever since Braun Strowman has been out with his elbow surgery, ratings for Raw have dropped despite Roman Reigns being the focus of the show once again and WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar remaining absent from television.
The episode after WrestleMania 33 saw a huge rating’s jump, with 3.767 million people watching the show. However, Undertaker did not show up after his loss to Roman Reigns, the fans booed Roman Reigns out of the building, and neither Brock Lesnar nor John Cena was anywhere to be found.
This week, the WWE had a huge match planned with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins battling Bray Wyatt and Samoa Joe. Those four men, plus Finn Balor, are battling at Extreme Rules for the opportunity to fight Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire in July. That episode of Monday Night Raw brought in 2.615 million viewers, the lowest total of 2017.
In the Wrestling Observer Newsletter this week, it was reported that the WWE was “booking slow” at this time because they know that numbers won’t pick back up until the summer. As a result, fans are tuning out, and the WWE has to hope that they tune back in when summer hits. It doesn’t help that two of the biggest stars are absent in Brock Lesnar and John Cena.
One thing that many experts are not considering is the fact that WWE is currently competing with the NBA playoffs. It was just a few years ago that Vince McMahon expressed shock that playoffs with LeBron James and the Miami Heat could hurt WWE ratings because he wondered who cared about the Heat. On Monday night this week. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Boston Celtics, and LeBron once again demolished the WWE in the ratings.
The WWE has a plan to lure fans back once the summer arrives. While there is no way the WWE can compete with Monday or Tuesday night games featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, June will see the return of one of the biggest draws in the WWE with Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar is due back on June 12 for Monday Night Raw, and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that he is booked for three episodes before he defends his WWE Universal Championship at Great Balls of Fire on July 9 in Dallas. Sportskeeda reported that Monday Night Raw had their biggest ratings when Brock Lesnar was on the show leading to the Royal Rumble.
Brock Lesnar routinely brings over three million viewers to Monday Night Raw every time he is booked to appear. Brock Lesnar also helps the live house show attendance when he shows up to wrestle there as well.
SmackDown Live had also struggled recently as well. While AJ Styles is still a huge draw there and is a Top 5 merchandise seller and Shinsuke Nakamura should bring more viewers to the product as well, the absence of John Cena has hurt.
SmackDown Live was actually beating Monday Night Raw in attendance when John Cena was on the show earlier this year. Since WrestleMania 33, John Cena has been shooting movies in Hollywood and attendance has dropped. Even Backlash, a pay-per-view event, had a low attendance of under 10,000 tickets sold.
SmackDown Live also hit ratings lows this month with only 2.175 million viewers on May 16. They did have an uptick the episode after Jinder Mahal won the WWE World Championship at Backlash, but the numbers were still low. John Cena won’t be back until July 4.
Whether or not John Cena and Brock Lesnar can save Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live is debatable. For now, the ratings and attendance numbers are down, and the WWE is just holding out until this summer to work on building them back up again.
[Featured Image by WWE]