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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 10/11/2020

Top 5 matches, starring all puro matches again! With 2 of the tournaments coming to an end this week, next week should be more reader friendly!

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With Champion Carnival and N-1 Victory coming to an end, we have a little more normalcy in the watching lineup. Now that doesn’t mean that the Top 5 is television friendly, but at least there’s more known names across the entire article.

Let’s see what won September!

MOTY Pool:

  • January – Wrestle Kingdom 14: Double Gold Match: Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito
  • February – AEW Revolution: AEW World Tag Team Championship: Hangman Page & Kenny Omega (c) vs The Young Bucks
  • March – AEW Dynamite: AAA Mega Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs Sammy Guevara
  • April – WrestleMania 36: NXT Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs Charlotte Flair
  • May – NXT: Pit Fight: Matt Riddle vs Tim Thatcher
  • June – NXT In Your House: NXT Women’s Champion Triple Threat: Io Shirai vs Charlotte Flair (c) vs Rhea Ripley
  • July – NJPW Dominion: NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs SHO
  • August – NOAH the Chronicle Vol 3: GHC National Openweight & GHC Heavyweight Championship Double Title Match: Kenoh (c) vs Go Shiozaki (c)
  • September – AEW Dynamite: Parking Lot Fight: Santana & Ortiz vs Best Friends

Impact Wrestling Victory Road: Eric Young vs Eddie Edwards, won the weekly vote, but I’m not surprised the hype carried the Parking Lot match over everything (hell I even voted for it).

Now let’s get to this week!

Quick Top 5:

  1. AJPW Champion Carnival Finals: Zeus vs Kento Miyahara
    Rating: *****
  2. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 13: Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi
    Rating: *****
  3. NOAH N-1 Victory Final Day: N-1 Victory Finals: Kaito Kiyomiya vs Katsuhiko Nakajima
    Rating: **** 1/4
  4. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 13: Kota Ibushi vs Minoru Suzuki
    Rating: **** 1/4
  5. NOAH N-1 Victory Final Day: GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kotaro Suzuki (c) vs Hao
    Rating: **** 1/4

 

Honorable Mentions:

  1. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 10: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs KENTA
    Rating: ****
  2. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 9: Taichi vs Tomohiro Ishii
    Rating: ****
  3. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 12: Tetsuya Naito vs Juice Robinson
    Rating: ****
  4. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 11: Shingo Takagi vs Kota Ibushi
    Rating: ****
  5. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 9: Will Ospreay vs Kota Ibushi
    Rating: *** 3/4
  6. AJPW Champion Carnival Final Day: Enfants Terribles (Hokuto Omori, Kuma Arashi & Shotaro Ashino) defeat Evolution (Dan Tamura & Suwama) & Shuji Ishikawa
    Rating: *** 3/4
  7. G1 Climax B Block Day 12: YOSHI-HASHI vs Hirooki Goto
    Rating: *** 3/4
  8. G1 Climax A Block Day 11: Will Ospreay vs Minoru Suzuki
    Rating: *** 3/4
  9. IMPACT!: Ace Austin & Madman Fulton vs Motor City Machine Guns
    Rating: *** 3/4
  10. NOAH N-1 Victory Final Day: GHC Junior Tag Championship: Momo no Seishun Tag (Daisuke Harada & Atsuhi Kotoge) vs Stinger (HAYATA & Yoshinari Ogawa) (c)
    Rating: *** 3/4
  11. G1 Climax A Block Day 11: Jay White vs Taichi
    Rating: *** 3/4
  12. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 13: Jeff Cobb vs Tomohiro Ishii
    Rating: *** 3/4
  13. AEW Dynamite: TNT Championship Dog Collar Match: Cody vs Brodie Lee (c)
    Rating: *** 1/2
  14. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 14: Hirooki Goto vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
    Rating: *** 1/2
  15. AJPW Champion Carnival Final Day: Yuma Aoyagi vs. Koji Doi
    Rating: *** 1/2
  16. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 9: Jay White vs Jeff Cobb
    Rating: *** 1/2
  17. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 10: Zack Sabre Jr vs SANADA
    Rating: *** 1/2
  18. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 11: Yujiro Takahashi vs Tomohiro Ishii
    Rating: *** 1/2
  19. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 10: YOSHI-HASHI vs Tetsuya Naito
    Rating: *** 1/2
  20. G1 Climax A Block Day 9: Minoru Suzuki vs Kazuchika Okada
    Rating: *** 1/2
  21. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 14: SANADA vs Juice Robinson
    Rating: *** 1/2
  22. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 13: Will Ospreay vs Taichi
    Rating: *** 1/2
  23. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 12: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs EVIL
    Rating: *** 1/4
  24. AEW Dynamite: Big Swole vs Serena Deeb
    Rating: *** 1/4
  25. NOAH N-1 Victory Final Day: KONGO (Kenoh, Manabu Soya, Masa Kitamiya & Yoshiki Inamura) vs Sugiura-Gun (Takashi Sugiura, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kendo Kashin & Kazushi Sakuraba)
    Rating: *** 1/4
  26. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 10: Juice Robinson vs EVIL
    Rating: *** 1/4
  27. NXT: Kushida vs Tommaso Ciampa
    Rating: *** 1/4
  28. IMPACT!: Rosemary & Taya Valkyrie vs Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz
    Rating: *** 1/4
  29. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 12: KENTA vs SANADA
    Rating: *** 1/4
  30. AJPW Champion Carnival Final Day: Purple Haze (Izanagi, Shigehiro Irie & UTAMARO) vs. Akira Francesco, Jiro ‘Ikemen’ Kuroshio & Rising HAYATO
    Rating: *** 1/4
  31. G1 Climax A Block Day 9: Shingo Takagi vs Yujiro Takahashi
    Rating: *** 1/4
  32. NOAH N-1 Victory Final Day: M’s Allaince (Naomichi Marufuji, Masaaki Mochizuki, Masakatsu Funaki & Keiji Muto) vs Go Shiozaki, Shuhei Taniguchi, Mohammed Yone & Daiki Inaba
    Rating: ***
  33. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 14: YOSHI-HASHI vs Zack Sabre Jr
    Rating: ***
  34. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 11: Jeff Cobb vs Kazuchika Okada
    Rating: ***
  35. AJPW Champion Carnival Final Day: JIN (Koji Iwamoto & Jake Lee) & TAJIRI vs. Atsuki Aoyagi, Black Menso-re, & Takao Omori
    Rating: ***
  36. AEW Dynamite: FTW Championship: Will Hobbs vs Brian Cage (c)
    Rating: ***
  37. WWE Raw: Robert Roode, Randy Orton & Dolph Ziggler vs The Street Profits & Drew McIntyre
    Rating: ***
  38. NOAH N-1 Victory Final Day: Junta Miyawaki, Seiya Morohashi &Kinya Okada vs FULL THROTTLE (YO-HEY, Hajime Ohara & Seiki Yoshioka)
    Rating: ***
  39. G1 Climax 30 B Block Day 12: Zack Sabre Jr vs Toru Yano
    Rating: ***
  40. WWE SmackDown: SmackDown Tag Team Titles: New Day vs Nakamura & Cesaro (c)
    Rating: ***
  41. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 13: Jay White vs Yujiro Takahashi
    Rating: ***

3t. NOAH N-1 Victory Final Day: GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kotaro Suzuki (c) vs Hao

From My Results:

We see an adjustment in body language, when Hao charges the corner and Suzuki counters with a shot to the ribs. He starts dumping him off and dismissing him like trash. The elitism of Suzuki bites him in the ass when Hao goes for a Satellite DDT, a counter to a backhand spring into a Backslide. Suzuki powders to the outside, gets a small advantage, tries an Apron Piledriver but Hao counters that into a Headscissors sending Suzuki flying.

Hao did his homework and had a counter for nearly everything, Requiem, Tiger Driver, Endless Waltz…Hao came prepared. He even made a statement by hitting Zero System on Suzuki. There was one scary point when Suzuki slipped on the ropes, with Hao in Brainbuster position, but he lands on his feet and delivers the move safely. This was just great to see every move in Suzuki’s arsenal countered. So he went to the well, and pulled out a Blue Thunder Driver, Big Ben Edge, to retain his title.

Winner: Suzuki via Big Ben Edge

 

3t. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 13: Kota Ibushi vs Minoru Suzuki

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Suzuki eggs Ibushi on but Ibushi throws another forearm. Suzuki throws one back, then palm strikes. Ibushi gives those back, and they’re throwing hands fast and furious! Suzuki gets the edge, ducks Ibushi’s retaliation to SLEEPER HOLD! Ibushi reaches out but already starts to fade! Fans rally up and Suzuki spins Ibushi! Gotch lift, but Ibushi fights up and out to back drop. Suzuki sunset flips, Ibushi has the wrists! KAMIGO- NO! Suzuki rolls with the knee to get the ankle! Half Crab! Ibushi endures as Suzuki gets the other leg, for the FULL Boston Crab! Fans rally up as Ibushi endures and Suzuki sits deep! Suzuki is working on a WALLS OF JERICHO! It is Jericho’s 30th anniversary. Ibushi rolls through but Suzuki still has the one leg. Suzuki cranks on the heel, Ibushi fights up to his one good foot, V-TRIGGER!

Ibushi wants another but Suzuki blocks! Suzuki spins Ibushi to the sleeper, then to the Gotch but Ibushi is free, V-TRIG- NO! Suzuki blocks this one, and gets an arm. Ibushi headbutts, gets both arms, STANDING KAMIGOYE?!? Ibushi takes the knee pads down, sits Suzuki back up, and gives him a PROPER KAMIGOYE!! High stack cover, Ibushi wins!!

Winner: Ibushi via Kamigoye

 

3t. NOAH N-1 Victory Final Day: N-1 Victory Finals: Kaito Kiyomiya vs Katsuhiko Nakajima

From My Results:

After rocking Waruhiko a bit, Kaito gets a little overzealous and Nakajima catches him and starts his own path of destruction. Thrust Kicks, Round Kicks to the chest, that genius Turnbuckle Pad Kick (not sure why but the simplicity of that move pops me every time),  and Kaito is reeling until he lands a strike of his own to have them both drop and breathe for a second.

Big German Suplex Hold from Kaito gives him some fire, he runs to the ropes once Nakajima kicks out, but a high speed Water Wheel Kick nearly takes Kaito off the top rope. Nakajima hits an Enzuigiri, goes up for possibly an Avalanche Diamond Bomb, but Kaito counters into his Avalanche Reverse DDT for 2.

Tiger Suplex Hold, but Nakajima kicks out. So much like their first finals meeting, Kaito goes for a second Tiger Suplex Hold, Nakajima breaks out, hits a High Kick that knocks Kaito back to the TRL days of MTV and then Nakajima finishes the match with the Diamond Bomb. It should be noted that Kaito has a huge bruise on his right cheek, so one of those kicks was a little stiff.

Winner: Nakajima via Diamond Bomb

 

1t. G1 Climax 30 A Block Day 13: Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi

From Mathew’s Review:

Shingo delivers some elbows onto Okada’s neck and chest before he attempts a Sliding Lariat but Okada gets up to hit his Dropkick! Okada would hit the Tombstone this time and applies the Money Clip right away, Shingo not wanting to tap as he hits Okada a few times before sliding his foot onto the ropes to break the hold. Okada climbs to the top rope and Shingo catches up to him, landed a few hits on him before climbing up with him to hit a Brainbuster off the top rope! Okada would hit a Dropkick onto Okada but Shingo rolls up to hit a Sliding Pumping Bomber! Shingo would lift Okada up for The Last of the Dragon but Okada fights out of it, flipping him over to attempt a pinfall but Shingo kicked out of it. Okada would then quickly catch him for the Spinning Tombstone and applies the Money Clip again, Shingo is struggling now to get to the ropes but Okada Backslides him over, holding his arm to pull him in for a Lariat! Okada tries to Lariat him again but Shingo would turn him around to hit the Rainmaker!! Shingo gets up to hit a Pumping Bomber but Okada ducks, going for the Rolling Lariat as Shingo catches I’m for the MADE IN JAPAN with Okada kicking out at two! Shingo hits the Pumping Bomber this time but Okada kicked out, quickly trying to get The Last of the Dragon as Okada fought him off, only to be caught with a Lariat. Shingo gets him up for The Last of the Dragon but Okada fights off him to apply the Money Clip again! Shingo rolled him off but is met with a Rolling Lariat! Okada gets the Money Clip in one more time and Shingo is fading, making his way to the ropes but Okada hits the Orton Backbreaker, reapplying it, leaving the referee with no choice but to call it as Shingo is passed out! Shingo is the best wrestler they have, and I don’t wanna hear different after this match. Fantastic match by both these men.

Winner: Okada via Money Clip

 

1t. AJPW Champion Carnival Finals: Zeus vs Kento Miyahara

From Mathew’s Review:

Kento calls for the Shutdown German Suplex Hold but Zeus breaks the grip and hits Kento with another Lariat. Zeus climbs to the top rope and hits the Frog Splash but Kento had his knees up before he could connect, hurting themselves in the process. Kento hits a Blackout and a German Suplex before he attempts the Shutdown German Suplex Hold again, getting the grip on and lifted him for a second before Zeus powers out of it last minute and hits a Dropkick! Zeus was now on top of Kento, delivering brutal forearms to his head to apply more damage to his head before getting off him. Zeus attempts a Lariat but Kento got behind him to roll him up for the European Clutch as Zeus kicked out and immediately applies the Facelock on Kento! Zeus has it locked-in and Kento could tap out right here but Zeus lets go of the hold once Kento was passed out since it seems he doesn’t wanna beat him that way. Zeus calls for the Jackhammer again but Kento fights off to hit a Blackout and hits another one to get him down. Kento is fired up as he goes for the Shutdown Gemrna Suplex Hold one more time as it connects with the referee going for the cover but Zeus kicked out! Zeus was able to kick out as many were unable to do except a certain few! Kento goes for it again but Zeus powers out of it to be met with a Blackout as Zeus bounced the ropes to hit another Lariat! Zeus hits one more Lariat as Kento kicked out but Zeus would pick him up to hit the Jackhammer and we have a winner!

Winner: Zeus via Jackhammer

 

Thoughts:

Given the fact the last B Block day for G1 was almost enough to make me lose hope in the block as a whole, this will probably be the last week that Japan dominates the top slots. So for those of you that don’t care about puro or feel that some other shows/matches have been getting a raw deal, we’re almost back to regularly scheduled programming.

That being said, the Champion Carnival Finals: Kento Miyahara vs Zeus, was AJPW’s best match of the year and a hefty contender for MOTY in many books. It would be a shame if the match doesn’t at least win the week since it is a less popular company at the moment, but we’ll see!

And for a quick comment in case people complain about the dog collar match low score; it was lame. Why did seconds get involved, why was Silver on the apron and too apparent for the first few minutes, why is Cody an idiot trying a Springboard move 2 minutes into a match? When the first 5 minutes makes me ask that many questions and then you just start adding color like blood equals psychology, you lose me. It was a mess that tried to sell “violence” as quality. If violence equaled quality than people would respect CZW…think on that.

 


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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.

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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.

Conclusion:

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?


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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.

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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.


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