Andrew goes through a few promotions and shows to compile the list. What makes the Top 5 matches this week?
Well we have a more normal week this week. Not a bunch of huge shows, more of a fair assessment of weekly product. Now to address last week’s winner…as if there was any question, Wrestle Kingdom 13: Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, won the first vote of the year.
With the debut of Impact on Pursuit/Twitch, the first Raw of 2019 and a few special events on the weekend for NXT UK and ROH, should be interesting to see what hit the mark.
5. WWE SmackDown Live: #1 Contender Triple Threat – Becky Lynch vs Carmella vs Charlotte Flair
The Queen, The Man, and The FABULOUS Princess of Staten Island. These three former champions all want that belt back, but they’ll have to get past the other two to do it! Who will prove themselves the better former champion to then take on the current champion at the Rumble?
The bell rings and fans are strongly behind Becky! Becky makes sure Charlotte and Carmella hear it, Charlotte gets her own fans going with “WOO~!” Becky and Charlotte hit each other, and Carmella takes advantage by throwing Becky down! Charlotte scoops Carmella but Carmella slips out to throw Charlotte into Becky! Carmella then rolls Charlotte up, ONE! Charlotte hits Carmella but Becky returns with EuroUppers for everyone. Becky mule kicks Carmella out then mule kicks Charlotte down. She scrapes Charlotte out of the ring before hitting Carmella with a leaping forearm. Becky runs Charlotte over with a clothesline, then declares “This is MY show!” Becky’s show will return after the break.
SmackDown returns once more, and Becky has Carmella down. Fans fire up as Becky runs into the corner. Carmella dodges but runs into Becky’s boot. Charlotte shoulders in and hotshots Becky back. Charlotte climbs up top, but Becky stops her with forearms. Becky throws Charlotte onto Carmella! Then she drop-sentons them both! Cover on Carmella, but Charlotte yanks Becky off. Charlotte and Becky glare down as they circle. The friends turned enemies are having flashbacks to Summerslam as they brawl with forearms and chops! Charlotte eggs Becky on and the brawling continues. Becky hits, Charlotte chops and back again! Charlotte gets an edge with those knife edge chops! Charlotte runs, but into Becky’s Thesz Press! The two scrap and roll around, but Carmella’s FABULOUS Kick rocks Charlotte!
Becky grabs Carmella but Carmella fights out to hit a complete shot! Carmella goes after Charlotte but Charlotte trips her to get the Figure Four. Carmella resists, Charlotte jackknifes but into the Code of Silence! Charlotte endures, then powers her way up to her feet. Carmella rolls through, TWO! Charlotte knees low, but Becky leaps in! The missile dropkick hits Carmella! Charlotte throws Becky with an exploder! Charlotte baits Carmella in, backbreaker but Carmella slips out, only to get a boot! Fans “WOO~” for the Mad Queen as she drags Carmella around. Charlotte tells the Becky fans to “Shut up and sit down!” before placing Becky in the drop zone.
Charlotte climbs, but Becky springs up! Becky grabs at Charlotte but Charlotte kicks her away. Charlotte adjusts, two for one Moonsault! Cover on Becky, TWO! Cover on Carmella, TWO!! The Queen grows further frustrated, but we go to one more break.
SmackDown returns again, and Becky climbs up after Charlotte on the top rope. The two fight up top and Charlotte saves herself from falling off. The brawling continues, and Becky gets the better of Charlotte. Becky pulls but Charlotte resists the superplex. Carmella comes in to yank Becky down! Carmella hits Charlotte, and then hits the FABULOUS- No, Charlotte counters the steiner into a lift. But Carmella fights through to hit the FABULOUS Steiner! Cover, TWO!! Carmella shouts in frustration, but refocuses. She kicks Charlotte out, then kicks Becky back down. Carmella takes a risk as she builds speed to DIVE! Direct hit on Becky! Carmella drags Becky up, but Charlotte leaps for a SUPER MOONSAULT! Only for both Becky and Carmella to get clear! Charlotte manages to roll through the landing, only for Carmella to kick her down!
Becky gets Carmella with a Becksploder! All three women are down on the outside, but Becky stands up first. She goes over to Carmella and drags her up. Becky throws haymakers, then throws Carmella into barriers! Fans cheer as Becky drags Carmella up and into the ring. Becky and Charlotte both enter, and Charlotte boots Becky down! Carmella rolls Charlotte up, TWO! Charlotte wants the Figure Four but Carmella denies her again. Becky grabs Carmella’s arm but Carmella resists. Charlotte hits Becky with a SUPER Natural Selection! Shades of Summerslam yet again! But FABULOUS Kick hits Charlotte! Carmella covers, but Charlotte breaks it in time! Charlotte covers Becky, TWO! All three women are down from exhaustion, but fans fire up.
Carmella is furious. She SLAPS Charlotte, and again, and again! She hammers away on Charlotte from all sides, but Charlotte slaps he back! Charlotte goes for the Figure Four, and puts it on! She bridges, Figure Eight! But Beck drops a leg on Charlotte!! Cover, TWO!? But right into the Disarm-Her!! FABULOUS Kick!! Carmella tells Becky “You Suck!” before throwing Charlotte out of the ring. Carmella goes to Becky as fans say “This is Awesome!” Becky resists the suplex, but gets a SPEAR from Charlotte! Another FABULOUS Kick! Carmella goes back to Becky, but into the Disarm-Her!! Carmella taps, Becky wins!!
Winner: Becky via Disarm-Her
Rating: *** 1/2
4. NXT UK Takeover Blackpool WWE UK Championship: Pete Dunne (c) vs Joe Coffey
Now I know there’s a bunch of people who will disagree and cry foul that I didn’t rank this higher, but really, why? Dunne and Coffey had obvious issues as early as Dunne trying to lay in a forearm, but Coffey falls back too early. Just a lot of double pumps in moves that made the match look clunky…staccato would probably be a better word. Plus there’s the two awful spots at the top rope where they just lost balance and crashed.
The match was very solid, we all know Dunne is a great performer, but just because someone is liked doesn’t mean so many bad spots get to be ignored. Plus the finish though it made some sense that it seemed like The Bitter End wasn’t working to put Coffey away, but how sloppy the finish was and then the quick tap was weird. Everything about this match screamed either nerves or a lack of chemistry, but it was decent, just not the spectacular clinic people made it sound like on Twitter.
Winner: Dunne via Triangle Choke w/ Finger Break
Rating: *** 3/4
3. ROH Honor Reigns Supreme: Marty Scurll, Brody King & PCO vs Silas Young & The Briscoes
Okay now this was the first match to really catch my attention. Mark Briscoe tried out his Redneck Kung Fu on PCO, and that was a fun battle. A lot of car crash style moments, and Young tried to Canadian Destroyer PCO on the apron and that didn’t work correctly, but no one got hurt, so it was just a hold your breath moment. Villain Enterprises established themselves nicely and PCO pinning Jay Briscoe most likely lines up a tag team title shot in the future. So between Brody King pulling off an Arabian Moonsault Arm Wringer Toss…thing…it was quite cool since Brody is like 6’5″. Damn good match though.
Winner: PCO via PCO Moonsault
Rating: *** 3/4
NXT UK Takeover Blackpool: Finn Balor vs Jordan Devlin
Rating: *** 1/2
ROH Honor Reigns Supreme: 4 Corners Survival Instant Rewards Proving Ground Match: Rhett Titus vs Shane Taylor vs Jonathan Gresham vs Jeff Cobb
Rating: *** 1/4
WWE SmackDown Live: Andrade Almas & Samoa Joe vs Rey Mysterio & Mustafa Ali
Rating: *** 1/4
WWE Raw: Bobby Lashley, Dean Ambrose & Drew McIntyre vs Seth Rollins, Finn Balor & John Cena
Rating: *** 1/4
WWE SmackDown Live: The Bar vs The Usos
Impact Wrestling: Willie Mack vs Sami Callihan
NXT UK Takeover Blackpool UK Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs Toni Storm
Impact Wrestling: No DQ Match: Johnny Impact vs Killer Kross
ROH Honor Reigns Supreme ROH World Championship Match: Jay Lethal (c) vs Dalton Castle
2. Impact Wrestling: Wentz & Dez vs Pentagon Jr & Fenix
Well now, if anyone had questions about The Rascalz, this stopped those questions. Match was basically run like a Lucha Rules match since I don’t remember a clean tag the whole time, but there were quick, crisp and great moves. Dez started off mirroring Pentagon for amusement, and the Rascalz continued their stoner/playful gimmick, while looking impressive as hell. As Dez and Wentz were trying to set up for Hot Fire Flame, Fenix shows up to turn the tides, Pentagon has Dez in a Gory Special, picks up Wentz for the Fear Factor, and drops down, while Fenix hits a cutter on Dez. Could easily have been a PPV match, all four were tremendous.
Winner: Pentagon Jr & Fenix via Gory Bomb/Fear Factor/Cutter combination
Rating: *** 3/4
1. NXT UK Takeover Blackpool NXT UK Tag Team Championships: Moustache Mountain vs Grizzled Young Veterans
From Mitchell’s Coverage:
Trent Seven and Tyler Bate have been tag team champions everywhere they’ve been, and that includes the American NXT! But Zack Gibson and James Drake want to put a stop to that here and now! Are Gibson & Drake soon to be recognized as the inaugural NXT UK Tag Team Champions? Or will Seven & Bate be the first to hold tag titles on both sides of the pond?
Introductions are made, and Johnny Saint himself raises up those title belts. The teams sort out as fans chant for the “Big Strong Boys!” Bate starts against Gibson at the bell and fans only get hotter. Gibson tunes the fans out as they boo him and sing for Bate. Bate grins as he and Gibson circle. They tie up and are even in power. Gibson gets a chinbar to bring Bate to the mat. Gibson goes after the wrist but Bate kips up. Bate tries to get Gibson down, but Gibson uses the wristlock to bring him back down. Gibson wrenches as fans boo. Bate kips up and gets the headscissor takedown. Fans say “If you hate Gibson, shoes off!”
Gibson pops out and has the wrist but Bate brings him back down into the headscissors. Bate squeezes but Gibson moves around. Gibson pops out and covers, TWO as Bate gets one shoulder up. Gibson tries the other, TWO. He tries both, but Bate bridges! Bate manages to power up and stand, but Gibson drives him back down. TWO with another bridge, and the Big Strong Boy rolls it up and over into a straitjacket! Gibson arm-drags Bate off but Bate lands on his feet! Fans applaud but Gibson talks strategy with Drake. Gibson and Bate tie up and go around. Bate gets the wristlock but Gibson powers him to the corner. Drake tags in but Bate gets away! Gibson backs off and Drake waits as Seven tags in. Mr. Mayhem and the artful dodger circle and fans sing “Trent Seven Army!”
Seven and Drake tie up and push each other around. Drake puts Seven on the ropes then turns him around for clubbing forearms. Drake wrenches and brings Seven over but Seven breaks free. Seven chops away on Drake! That third one knocks Drake off his feet! Cover, ONE, so Seven drags Drake over. Tag to Bate and Bate climbs. Wastleland slam to knee-board senton! Bate brings Drake up for European Uppercuts. Bate whips Drake but Gibson bails Drake out. Fans boo as GYV regroups. Drake runs in but Bop goes up. He won’t let Bang hit, so Bate baits him with a test of strength. Drake falls for it, so Bate goes up, over, around and under to roll Drake up. TWO, and a dropkick drops Drake!
Bate handsprings and brings Drake back over. Drake breaks free and gets a headlock. Bate powers out but Gibson tags in. Bate sees Gibson coming and huricanranas! Seven tags in and gets the hand-off. Gibson throws forearms and goes after Seven’s arm. Seven powers out but Gibson runs him over. Things speed up and Seven hits a crossbody! Cover, TWO! Seven goes right after Gibson’s arm! Fans rally but Gibson whips out. Gibson swings but Seven ducks to scoop. Gibson slips out and tags Drake. Seven CHOPS away on both Grizzled Young Veterans! Seven hip tosses Drake down, then gets him in a waistlock. Gibson tags back in as Seven rolls Drake. Seven rocks Gibson with a right, then DIVES onto Drake! Drake backs away as Seven pursues. Drake suckers Seven into Gibson’s throat chop!
Gibson drags Seven up and into the ring to ground ‘n’ pound. Fans boo but Gibson tags in Drake. The GYV stomp Seven down, then Drake throws hands. Seven crawls but can’t get the tag. Fans rally up but Drake gives Seven a backbreaker. Cover, TWO! Drake wraps on a half nelson and chinbar. Seven endures and feeds off the fans’ energy. Seven fights his way up but Drake wrangles him back down. Fans sing again and Seven stands. Drake throws him out hard then tags Gibson. Gibson drags Seven up, and GYV combine for the slingshot stomp backbreaker! Bate comes over to check on Seven but Gibson tells him to back off. Gibson puts Seven in the ring and drags him back over. Drake tags in and Gibson feeds Seven to Drake’s forearm! Cover, TWO! Seven continues to survive but his arm and back are problems.
Drake drags Seven up but Seven fights back. Drake puts Seven in the corner but Seven fights out! GYV mug Seven, but Seven throws Drake at Gibson! Seven scrambles but Drake drags him back. Gibson tags in and he stomps Seven out. Seven has blood from his head, that’s from Drake’s sharp elbow. Fans sing “If you hate Gibson, stand up~!” but Gibson suplexes Seven and floats to a cover. TWO, but Gibson is right on Seven with a cobra clutch. Seven endures and gets his second wind, but Drake tags in. Drake slingshots but Seven bumps Gibson into him. Drake goes down and Gibson lets go since he’s no longer legal. Gibson throws Seven out and Drake goes after him. But Seven CHOPS Drake back! Drake forearms, Seven CHOPS! They go back and forth, but there’s also the ring count.
Drake forearms and Seven chops again. Seven chops and chops then gets back in at 7! Drake scrambles after to stop Seven from tagging Bate! Gibson tags in and the GYV isolate Seven all over again. Gibson brings Seven up for a forearm, but Seven hits Drake and boots Gibson! Seven runs but Gibson catches him, Bate still tags in! Bate fires off with haymakers and keeps Gibson from running away! Drake comes in but Bate whips and back drops him! Gibson runs but into Bate’s knee! Bate hops up, flying uppercut! Fans fire up with Bate as he grabs Drake for the airplane spin! Around and around he goes, but then he throws him at Gibson. Bate then suplexes Drake onto Gibson’s shoulders, and then lifts them both! Bate does a double spin!
Drake slips off but Bate keeps spinning Gibson until he’s too dizzy. Bate goes at Gibson on the apron but Drake gets him first. But Bate brings Drake out to join him. They brawl on the apron, and Bate exploders Drake at Gibson! Bate kips up as fans reach a fever pitch, then shooting star tackles both Gibson and Drake! Bate puts Gibson in, double underhooks, but Gibson resists. Gibson back drops but Bate lands on his feet. Bop up, BANG hits! Seven tags in and scoops Gibson for a running powerslam! Bate adds a headbutt! Seven covers, TWO!! Mustache Mountain can’t believe their tribute to The British Bulldogs didn’t get it done! Bate DIVES onto Drake! Seven brings Gibson up, Burning Hammer!! Cover, but Drake breaks it just in time!
Fans rally up as Gibson and Seven crawl. Seven hammers Gibson but Gibson kicks Seven. Fans know “This is Awesome!” as Seven grabs Gibson’s foot. Gibson kicks Seven’s bad leg, hot tags to Drake and Bate! Drake tries to roll but Bate sits on it. ONE, Drake sunset flips, ONE, Bate high stacks, ONE! Drake sunset flips again, TWO! Rolling kick from Bate! Bate tags Seven again and Seven picks Drake up. Bate runs and rebounds, but Gibson hits a code breaker! Seven chops Gibson, but Gibson puts him in a corner, and Drake makes Seven #GritYourTeeth! Gibson hits Helter Skelter and Drake adds a 450!! Cover, TWO!? Gibson and Drake can’t believe it, but fans are thunderous! The Grizzled Young Veterans regroup, and Gibson tags back in.
Gibson drags Seven up and feeds him to Drake’s scoop. Seven slips out to throw Drake at Gibson. Seven chops everyone, but gets caught into the enziguri and Shankly Gates! Gibson hammers away and sinks it in deep! Seven endures but Bate is slowly returning. Drake intercepts with a facelock, but Bate powers up. Drake puts Bate in his own Shankly Gates! Mustache Mountain reach for each other as they endure the holds. Bate powers up again, to lift Drake and Death Valley Drive him onto Gibson!! All four men are down but the Empress Ballroom is all but exploding! They chant “UK! Woop Woop!” for “British Wrestling!” Both teams regroup, and tags to Bate and Drake. Bate fires off a strike fest! Bate gives some to Gibson! Drake hits a forearm, but Bate hits a DOUBLE rolling kick!
Seven’s back and tags in again. Mustache Mountain want it, Rebound Snap Dragon! Cover, TWO!?! Drake survives, but Mustache Mountain has one more thing to try. Seven drags Drake up as fans hope they “Fight Forever!” Gibson lurks, and anchors Bate! Seven lifts Drake but Drake slips out. Drake shoves Seven into Bate, and Bate’s in an electric chair. Seven Star Lariat misses, Drak DIVES to Doomsday Bate! Fans lose their minds over that one. Seven is furious, he DIVES but into Drake’s shotgun kick! Gibson drags Seven up and in, and GYV coordinate. Drake scoops, Ticket to MAYHEM!! Cover, Grizzled Young Veterans win!!
Winner: Gibson via Ticket to Mayhem
Rating: **** 1/4
This is actually a hard choice for me because the Women’s Triple Threat was really good and Carmella stepped up nicely. She may not have done a lot, but she filled in her spots, it all looked good and she wasn’t a liability. The ROH match was the highlight of that show, I wanted to just smash my skull in and fall into a coma with how bad that was, but Brody is impressive, PCO is tremendous and you can’t hate the Briscoes. Moustache Mountain, my only issue ever is with Tyler Bate, that Bop and Bam thing is dumb and his Double Airplane Spin always annoys me with how dumb and illogical it is.
So you see I boiled it down to three at least…ugh…which one.
Screw it, I’m gonna pick, ROH Honor Reigns Supreme: Villain Enterprises vs Silas Young & The Briscoes, purely for being the highlight of an awful show. Everyone else, do the damn thing, vote and Always Use Your Head!
Three Important Things AEW Needs to Get Right in 2022
With 2021 coming to a close, Tommy decides to look ahead and throw out some ideas on AEW’s course of action in 2022.
As the year winds down and wrestling fans begin to construct their obligatory 2022 Predictions List for Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling will certainly be amongst those ongoing discussions. AEW has seen many drastic company changes in a short two-year timestamp, and while those changes have substantially improved the quality of the product in various categories (mainstream growth and finances to be specific), there are still a few major particulars that need to be given proper attention in the coming year. The following list draws attention to some of those issues, although they are not exclusive to this list.
Roster Prioritization & Cutting Deadweight
One incremental shift that we have seen in the last two years with AEW is their approach to their roster construction. Whether discussing the accumulation of more household names like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, or Adam Cole or analyzing the rotation of whom is being featured in more prominent roles, it is hard to argue against the idea that as it stands in 2021, AEW has crafted its most successful and star-studded roster since 2019. However, along with the accumulation of recognizable and established names, AEW has also immensely increased its roster size since 2019. And while there are multiple benefits to be had out of the roster growth, AEW has struggled to gain consistent ground with being able to effectively feature a hand-selected number of talents over extended periods of time. Moreover, it is impossible.
Hence, we have seen them try to make up for this by pairing and grouping talents together in clustered factions in order to give them more “camera time.” It has proven to be more of a recipe for disaster than actual constructive booking, as it paints them in a corner of having too many people on screen at a given time; the end result is that no one is actually being effectively spotlighted. And if AEW is going to restrain from adopting a “brand split” between Dynamite and Rampage, the solution really comes down to using an old-school territorial roster booking approach. In other words, they should ideally select between ten and fifteen wrestlers to primarily feature on their premiere shows in a two or three month timeframe in the lead-ins to TV specials or PPVs; the end goal is to build up several key programs and strictly focus on those important programs with everything and everyone else taking a backseat temporarily.
Meanwhile, they can use AEW Dark and YouTube shows to begin eventual methodical character progression before rotating their roster to new programs. The other attention to detail within this booking formula is to ensure that they are only allotting TV time to proficient, ready talent and cutting back on the spotlighting of heavily “green,” inexperienced talent. This is not to say that they can not feature lesser experienced talent, but they should abstain from focusing too much time and attention to them until their ring ability, promo work, and character development are ready for primetime television.
To this day, AEW’s greatest dilemma with their current roster is generating a cohesive talent pool to makeup for their ongoing J.A.G. (Just Another Guy) Syndrome. The cold, hard truth is that, given the depth of the current talent pool, it is extraordinarily difficult to assemble a roster of one-hundred plus wrestlers without falling into a pit of having a handful of those J.A.G. names in some capacity. The issue is that AEW has too many J.A.G.S. at the moment, and until they cutback on the deadweight talent and prioritize on a selected few talent to prominently feature each week, this problematic pattern will continue in 2022.
AEW needs to remember the cliche phrase, “When you try to spotlight everyone, you end up spotlighting no one.”
Market & Brand to Mainstream Audiences
It is evident that AEW’s target appeal is for their primary demographic (males 18-49). However, if AEW is looking to grow and succeed as a company in the next five to ten years, there needs to be a concerted effort to branch out and reach new viewers and new audiences. One issue that AEW continues to struggle with is their assumption that everyone that watches their product understands and follows the inner workings of all storylines and angles. While the “internet, hardcore fan base” may be privy to the intricate details of most AEW stories and characters, it is a poor business model to assume that everyone knows what is going on at all times. AEW has been extraordinary hit and miss with its consistent presentation of stories and characters to an expansive audience.
For example, hardcore fans that follow New Japan Pro Wrestling may be knowledgable as to whom Tomohiro Ishii is and the significance of his affiliation with Orange Cassidy and the Best Friends. However, a casual AEW fan who does not follow New Japan may not understand the nooks and crannies of that alliance. And when AEW coldly throws them out to work a tag match on television with no video pretape or package to provide back-story, it assumes that everyone already understands what is going on. Regardless of whether or not it seems redundant, it is always better to dumb stories down for the audience by some off-chance that a fan needs context or reason behind a given match or story.
Attention to Formatting
Angles in professional wrestling have been a constant part of the art form since its inception, but something fans forget a lot of the time is that wrestling angles also used to be special and unique. When you watch an episode of NWA World Championship Wrestling from 1985 on the TBS Superstation, you may get one “angle” on the entire show, whether it was an afterbirth heel beat down or a verbal confrontation at the interview booth. The point being that, it would standout as something special on the show, while the rest of the program consists of squash matches and brief promos. While fans like to reminisce about the greatness of the Attitude Era period of wrestling in the late 90s, there is a valid case to be made that the Attitude Era helped to kill the value of professional wrestling angles.
Due to the nature of the business by that point and the ongoing battle between WCW and WWF for fan admiration and viewership, the concept of “Crash TV Angles” became second nature to what fans would come to expect on a given show. Many matches and segments on Nitro and Raw shows included run-ins, interference, mass brawls and beat downs, and chaotic scenes, sometimes to the detriment of both products. And while it may have worked for the time, it has also left a stain on the business in years to follow where other companies have tried to adopt that same Crash TV booking approach with the belief that it would carry weight in a much different period of wrestling. Looking back through modern lens, would it be wrong to assert that it may have been “too much?”
The evolution of the “smart” wrestling fan can find it difficult to settle on matches with multiple run-ins, shenanigans, and angles without feeling overwhelmed and gypped if it does not feel warranted. For AEW, this is still an area where they struggle to find a balance. Again, this reverts back to the previous discussion of trying to book and spotlight too many wrestlers on a show at a given time. Thus, AEW may find it crucial to get these wrestlers involved with interference and afterbirth angles just to “give them something to do.” However, when AEW has three or four of these kinds of matches booked on a given show, it can be become problematic; the same can be said about booking backstage interviews that end in mass brawls multiple times throughout the show. The end result is that nothing ever feels like it has any consequence or meaning. The other dilemma is that it comes off as WWE Lite.
Again, AEW would greatly benefit from modeling the format of their matches and promos from a territorial standpoint. Instead of implementing Crash TV booking for multiple matches and segments on a given show, they should limit this to one or two at the most. This way, angles feel special, they have time to breathe, and the announcers can spend more time discussing the significance of said angles without needlessly forgetting about them the minute they end.
AEW has improved the quality of their product in a lot of areas, but there is always room for improvement. And while there certainly can be more additives to this list of things AEW need to focus on in 2022, these are some of the more apparent and essential ones. Thoughts?
Ratings Talk is Back!
Rob always brings logical insight to any topic, regardless of how often it’s brought up in the IWC. Sit back and give this a read, they don’t call Rob a genius for the t-shirts.
OK, I know, I know, I’ve been saying it over and over for a very long time, ratings talk is dumb. So why on Earth am I bringing it back? Because now that some, ahem, developments have transpired I think I have a better case to make. I don’t expect any of you who are obsessed with the subject to let it go, but you should at least hear me out here. Now that the worm has turned a little, maybe the things that I and others have been saying all along will sink in a bit.
What am I talking about? In short, AEW’s live audience numbers have taken a bit of a dip over the past couple of months, and this week even Dave Meltzer couldn’t say anything other than it was disappointing. They haven’t gone over a million viewers for Dynamite in almost two months and Rampage slipped under five hundred thousand last week. If this kind of thing was happening on the other side of the street then there would be some hot takes flying for sure. So, are we going to get some of those now? You know what I mean, things like:
- AEW in the mud!
- Worst ratings since (pick whatever date works for you)!
- At what point does TNT start making demands on how the show is booked?
- The ratings are obviously going down because the shows are unwatchable now!!
- (Insert name here) is not a draw!
- That title match in two weeks is hotshot booking to pop a rating!
Sound familiar? We’re gonna see these soon, right? No? Why is that? Are you trying to tell me that wrestling media doesn’t call this stuff the same on both sides of the street? Seriously though, here are some other familiar things for you to chew on:
- Dynamite is the highest rated non-NBA show on TNT, and it’s not close
- Even on a disappointing night, it finished third in the ratings on cable
- Rampage is the next highest rated and watched show on TNT after Dynamite
- Fewer people watch TV now than before
Those are the kind of things a lot of us would say every week after people on the internet waxed doom and gloom about Monday Night Raw, of course. And we were summarily dismissed as E drones or whatever. But now that the falling numbers have struck AEW, the same rationalizations have begun. But here’s the truth in both cases:
Everyone is doing fine. RAW, Smackdown, NXT, Dynamite, and Rampage are all leading their respective channels for the day they air. They all are among the top shows for their respective channels, even the much maligned (for their live audience numbers) NXT and Rampage. There is literally nothing to see here folks as none of these shows are in any danger of getting cancelled. No one is actually in the mud, guys. The networks all know that Nielsen is suspect at best when it comes to measuring audience numbers, and they act accordingly. There is no reason to rush to Shobuzz Daily every day at 4:30 unless you are just a numbers nerd like me but even then save the pontificating, ok? The numbers exist and that’s about it. They serve no purpose for us as fans beyond goofy talking points.
But doesn’t it mean SOMETHING?
Well no, it doesn’t. There are things you can derive from looking at the patterns over time but trust me when I tell you that your entire narrative can be blown up in a matter of two weeks. So don’t bother. As I and many others have said before, a good rating does not mean a good show and vice versa. There was a lot of trying to figure it out in the replies to Meltzer’s ‘disappointment’ tweet, and while there were reasonable takes there was also a lot of nonsense. Which has been par for the course with RAW since like…….2002 at least.
So why do we keep doing this thing?
Well, it was a talking point that Eric Bischoff used to show how he was kicking the WWF’s butt over those 83 weeks. But once that ended it became less and less relevant over time. And then once TV viewership made the shift to streaming and DVRs it’s relevance was all but dead. And it should have ended entirely once WWE signed two $1 billion TV deals in the face of nonstop ‘what about teh ratingz?’ talk on the internet. That should have totally killed the conversation, but your friends Meltzer and company kept it going even though they (should) know better. And they did it for traffic.
‘Fed bad’, ‘Fed down’, and ‘Fed in the mud’ has been selling Observer subscriptions for almost 40 years now while it has spawned a whole cottage industry of podcasts, YouTube channels, and websites over the last decade. There is little to no truth to what any of these people are telling you when it comes to ratings, because if there was then they would be firing off the same takes about AEW that they’ve been using about WWE right now. But they aren’t and that should be a tell. If you ever needed proof that it was nonsense the last two months should be it.
Here’s a dose of reality for you: Nielsen numbers are not accurate. Several networks have already announced that they aren’t relying on them, Nielsen itself has lost it’s accreditation as an information gathering service, and the company itself has begun a shift to overall impressions from traditional audience measuring via Nielsen boxes. What you read every day at 4:30 or on some wrestling website is by all accounts an inaccurate at best and dishonest at worst representation of how many people are watching these shows. And the recent reporting of Fast Nationals, aka Overnights has only made it worse because those are a hastily gathered version of an already inaccurate report.
Here’s some more reality for you. Regardless of what Nielsen says the live numbers are both WWE and AEW are going to get a nice bump in TV rights fees when they negotiate their new TV deals. Other sports with smaller audiences just got more, and the NFL and NBA continue to get price hikes even as their numbers aren’t what they once were. And your favorite internet loudmouths will continue to spout the same factually challenged gibberish that they’ve been saying for decades now. None of it will matter unless you guys keep giving them money and traffic every month.
I’m going to make a bold statement here: there is not a single thing that ratings talk has done to help the fan experience and in fact it’s only made things worse. But it has made money for a lot of bad faith actors out there, many of whom want us to treat them as if they are reporting on Watergate or the Civil Rights Movement while they spout off takes based a change up or down of 100,000 people watching a wrestling show on TV. At this point anyone writing serious essays or going on rants about ratings is not someone you should take seriously. Just go do what you should have always been doing. Watch the shows, enjoy the shows, go to the shows, talk reasonably about them with your friends, etc. Anything else is just dumb.
Cook’s 2021 NFL Gambling Picks: Week 13
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