The WWE’s flagship show, Monday Night RAW, presented the go-home show for the brand’s first exclusive pay-per-view of the new era on Monday night to mixed reviews. Clash of Champions comes our way Sunday night, and while most of the matches should provide solid entertainment, the final build did not offer the customary enticement that traditionally lures a potential buyer into pulling the trigger on making that purchase.
Now, the WWE Network has drastically changed the business model for the WWE, not forcing the company to book go-home cliffhangers as in prior eras. But nevertheless, the fans have become accustomed to compelling angles coming in and out of pay-per-views.
The aforementioned mixed reviews did not come as a result of lack of effort on the WWE’s part, however. Since the brand extension, RAW has been in a kayfabe ratings war with its counterpart on Tuesday nights, SmackDown Live, and a much more important ratings battle with the NFL on Mondays. WWE ratings traditionally take a hit as football resumes in the fall, but when viewership has already been spiraling downward, the competition feels extra fierce.
The WWE and RAW have about a 20-minute window once their show hits the air at 8 p.m. eastern before kickoff on Mondays. That and halftime are their key time-slots to either lure or keep viewers tuned into their product. And that’s exactly what their game plan was this week.
According to Ringside News, by having Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon book Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens in a steel cage, main event match, the WWE’s goal was to promote a marquee attraction for three hours so that they wouldn’t lose (more) viewers to ESPN’s broadcast of the game between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles. It’s also no secret that RAW‘s third hour has been the lowest-rated hour week in and week out, so this was an effort to amend that trend.
The final rating figures will determine if the WWE’s plan paid off, although the finish to the match seemed extremely puzzling to many. Some questioned that if they were going to have Reigns win the cage match clean (by escaping before Owens), then why not pin KO? Obviously, the thought is they don’t want their WWE Universal Champion to get pinned six days before his first title defense at the pay-per-view.
Owens is set to defend his title against Seth Rollins, who might have finally made his mark as a babyface when he evened the odds as Reigns was getting double-teamed by Owens and Rusev after the match. Rollins dove off the top of the cage onto the heels to make the save, providing his first signature move as a good guy and alleviating any lingering doubts as to what side of the fence he was on.
The easier match to book might have been a tag, pairing Rollins and Reigns against Owens and Rusev to close out the show. However, Roman and Seth had been kept apart on WWE television for the most part, only teaming in dark matches. Plus, the idea of a tag match may not have been enough to keep viewers tuned in while a football game involving two top markets was on another channel.
We had reported that the WWE was contemplating a huge double turn with Rollins and Reigns, and although it didn’t exactly pan out in one singular moment, the company is booking them carefully if they’re involved in the same segment. It remains to be seen if Reigns is turned heel, or if backstage talk of reuniting The Shield plays out during a future dual-brand pay-per-view. That, of course, would prevent a Roman heel-turn, but would it lead to a change of heart from the WWE Universe once the reunion was over?
[Image by WWE]