WWE sent out a press release, evidently not realizing about the Trump show, as they proclaimed the final two hours as the most watched regular two hours of Raw in more than ten years. You could argue it was more impressive to do the number they did on a show with commercials, and it was, but it was not the highest viewing audience for Raw in ten years. There were segments on the Trump show that topped 8 million viewers while on this show nothing topped 7 million. But it was the highest except for the Trump show since WWE came back to the USA Network from Spike in 2005.
But the show was a huge success because they had 5.58 million viewers already tuned in for the start of the show, meaning all the plugs about three hours largely worked and the audience is already aware of the new start time. The rating was actually in a sense deceptively low, because they had 1.58 viewers per home, a number that dates back to the kind of levels the show did in its glory days.
In the segment-by-segment, the DX segment opened so strong that the second quarter gain with the end of the segment where they tossed out Damien Sandow gained 27,000 viewers. Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara & Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio & Dolph Ziggler & Chris Jericho with a Charlie Sheen interview lost 395,000 viewers. Brodus Clay vs. Jack Swagger and a bunch of backstage stuff involving legends gained 326,000 viewers. It’s pretty clear this was a show where people were tuning in to see guys who aren’t on the roster.
The wedding at 9 p.m., when you would expect several hundred thousand to tune in, gained 616,000 to a 3.91 rating. The Rock coming out with Bryan and Punk in the ring gained 575,000 viewers to a 4.28. Christian vs. The Miz lost 895,000 viewers, but given the gains in the prior segments and that people were not watching for the current wrestlers, that shouldn’t be a surprise. The segment with HHH (his third already on the show) with Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon gained 334,000 viewers. Brock Lesnar’s brawl with HHH gained 90,000 viewers. The big thing to show the nostalgia lure is the Heath Slater segment with all the legends, that would be expected to lose a ton of viewers after Lesnar and HHH, gained 25,000 viewers, and did 3.99 quarter in a time slot that usually loses big, and beat both HHH/Stephanie/Heyman segment and the HHH/Lesnar brawl.
Undertaker’s return gained 293,000 viewers. And the Punk vs. Cena with Rock and Show doing the run-in gained 389,000 viewers and peaked the show with a 4.43 overrun. It’s not a gigantic overrun gain, but when the audience is already so large, and watching consistently, there probably isn’t room for a ton of gain. The last segment did a 5.6 among teenage boys.
Overall in the demos, the show did a 4.8 in teenage boys (up 41%), 3.6 in Males 18-49 (up 16%), 2.4 in Teenage girls (up 33%) and 1.8 in Women 18-49 (up 100%). You would expect the women numbers up due to the wedding, but the wedding was over by 9:15 p.m. Overall the audience was 67.1% male.
The show also had nearly triple the amount of social media activity as the week before and more than any episode of Raw in history. Usually there is more social media activity surrounding Love & Hip Hop Atlanta on VH-1 on Mondays, but this week Raw almost doubled it. Again, what that means when you spend the show telling people to do something, which no other show does to that degree, it’s something to brag about. However, nothing related to WWE was among the top searched items on Google, which is the only trending metric that has historically shown to be any kind of a predictor of business. The rating, as the last show to beat this number showed, doesn’t guarantee anything going forward, but getting Sheen for SummerSlam and shooting the Punk angle (leading to one main event) and Lesnar angle (leading to the other) in front of so many viewers should pay dividends.
The first segment with Rock, Bryan and Punk was really the most impressive if you consider the time slot it aired in. It did a 5.7 with teenage boys, 4.0 with Men 18-49, 2.3 in Teenage girls and 2.0 in Women 18-49. Plus, if you are going to start being hot, the teenage audience is the quickest to sway both up and down, because the adult audience is harder to move and more stable. They’ve had a strong increase in teenagers watching for the last month, far and away growing more than the audience itself at large.
The show also drew a sellout 18,318 fans, and about 15,000 paid in St. Louis for the show.
Far more important than the ratings, which will be forgotten in a week, is that before their largest possible audience, they shot the Punk heel turn, but did it in a way that should help next week’s number because you were left with curiosity as to why and without the interview explanation. Punk is likely to have to turn hard on the fans because he’s likely programmed back with Cena, and that dynamic not done carefully can lead to Punk being cheered. The key was screwing with the Money in the Bank, something people think they can count on, and the brilliance of messing with the people’s elbow spot. Plus, the “not helping” as opposed to turning and watching someone else do the dirty work was more effective. If he would have simply turned and done a heel move to beat Cena, the normal turn method, he would have been cheered like crazy by a decent segment of the audience. And there were a few cheers when he nailed Rrock, but they were a distinct minority.
There were 6.93 million people watching when Punk turned, 6.69 million watching when Rock announced his title challenge at the Rumble, and 6.22 million watching when HHH and Lesnar did their angle for the SummerSlam main event. So whatever the reason people came to see the show, in the key segments, they shot the most important angles for their next three major shows, as well as the angle for hooking people for next week’s show. While there were no great matches, and really, no great promos either, the show was brilliantly put together for future business.
I don’t know that this was a Pat Patterson angle idea, but in the 70s, when Pat Patterson and Don Muraco were the top two babyfaces in San Francisco, there was a heel beatdown on Patterson and instead of Muraco joining in as would be the traditional turn, he just stood there, didn’t leave, but didn’t help, which was actually far more effective. Because it was the only angle of that type for years, while the usual No. 2 face going heel is done all the time, it was more effective and memorable than most.