AS I SEE IT - 11/04/2002: Thoughts On "The Angle"...
A gross, disgusting, offensive...and outright stupid angle.
Then the fallout began.
Dave Meltzer reports in this week's print Observer that on that night alone, over 550,000 viewers were reported to have tuned out after the Katie Vick angle.
Then, one week later, when the fallout or the build from an angle traditionally occurs... it came.
Oh boy, did it ever come.
RAW dropped from a 3.7 cable rating to a 3.4 cable rating. Smackdown dropped from a 3.7 broadcast rating/6 share, to a 3.3 broadcast rating/5 share... losing nearly 422,000 viewers from the previous week.
If it had only been one show, an argument could have been made that this Monday's RAW ratings were skewed by the New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles game on Monday Night Football... in two traditionally big WWE markets... and I'd have tried to believe them.
But it wasn't as simple as that, and it wasn't just a regional problem, but a problem everywhere. The fact of the matter was that the number of viewers of RAW this Monday was the lowest watching wrestling on a non-holiday Monday night since 1996.
Then it got worse.
For Smackdown, the more wrestling-intensive of WWE's nationally televised shows to lose 422,000 viewers from the previous week shows that wrestling fans are turned off by the direction that WWE is taking; and that they don't differentiate between WWE "brands".
It seems pretty clear that if they're pissed off about the direction of one show and the Katie Vick angle in particular, they're pissed off about both shows, and the numbers prove it.
This perception is showing itself in live crowds as well.
At Smackdown this past week, WWE management couldn't have been pleased to have to black out almost the entire eastern section of the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids; and opening only a few hundred seats in the upper deck.
They couldn't have been pleased to cancel a "Smackdown brand" house show scheduled for November 18 show in Worcester had to be cancelled due to lack of ticket sales.
In his weekly column, NWA-TNA's Jeremy Borash had a few good lines about the way that wrestling fans are being turned off by the current direction of WWE:
"...One fan at ringside expressed to me that today, wrestling has gone so far from what made him a fan in the first place, that he has been turned off from today's current state of wrestling.
[He] wanted to give TNA a try to see if it made him a fan again. This may sound strange to some, but he said was nearly brought to tears during our main event Wednesday night. He told me after the show that his evening a the Asylum had rekindled memories he hadn't had since watching Tojo [Yamamoto] and Jackie Fargo with his father battle in the same building decades ago.
While the style had changed to fit a more modern time, he said it made him feel the same way he did years ago when his father used to bring him to the matches as a kid. I identified with his feelings completely.
While my father and I are about as opposite as they come, the one thing we always shared was a love for wrestling. He took me to see an AWA show at the age of five, and I have been hooked ever since. It's great to know that while we are on the other ends of the country, he is watching every Wednesday night and is one of my biggest supporters. Wrestling has been one thing we can always talk about."
Amen to that.
I understand that not everyone likes NWA:TNA, and not everyone is able to get it on their cable system, or to put out $40 monthly. But right now, it's the one semi-national alternative to WWE within North America, and readers that can need to check them out, rather than give up on wrestling altogether.
The purchase of NWA-TNA by Panda Energy will insure that NWA-TNA exists for at least some time to come, and will now have the ability to advertise its product widely, so that those turned off by WWE programming might give them a shot.
But if you'd like still another alternative, there are also a number of promotions that now broadcast their shows online as well. Here are a few examples of free downloads:
those willing to pay for their content (and who have broadband)...
World Wrestling Network broadcasts Combat Zone Wrestling, IPW-Hardcore Wrestling, Christian Wrestling Federation, NWA Florida, NWA Wildside, Premier Wrestling Federation, Premier Wrestling Federation Northeast, Future of Wrestling, Jersey All-Pro Wrestling, and vintage programming like Mike Graham's Championship Wrestling from Florida; on their two channels. Check them out at:http://broadband.wwn.tv.
If you don't want to take a chance on any of them... then there's my perpetual call for all of you to check out your local independent promotion.
Wrestling fans in the Northeast are blessed enough to have numerous alternatives to WWE, particularly in the Philadelphia region. We have at
least 8 wrestling shows in a 10 day period.
Most of you don't.
But PWBTS and many of the websites on which you read this column give you news on independents from all over North America.
I can't say enough that any reader with an independent near you needs to support them NOW.
Until Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Brian Gerwirtz and anyone else involved in these recent soap opera style angles that make XPW look like the All Japan Champion Carnival... until they get their collective heads out of their asses (or keep them out of Rikishi's, for that matter) and realize that what they're doing isn't working... ratings will continue to drop.
House show and live crowds for RAW and Smackdown will continue to drop.
Like I said two weeks ago in this column:
Vote with your dollars, and show WWE the
kinds of wrestling you really want to see on your TV screens and at your
local arenas by giving it to someone else for awhile.
An important and unrelated note: for those of you reading from the United States, please remember to vote for the candidate of your choice in your Congressional, State and local elections this Tuesday.
Until next time...
(Note: Neilsen ratings are compiled by and are the property of Nielsen Media Research)
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)