It's bad news all around for ratings in pro wrestling and mixed martial arts (MMA) at the moment.
WWE Monday Night Raw's ratings fell to the lowest level in 15 years this week, thanks to a combination of stiff NFL competition and the new three hour format burning their audience out. The returns of both John Cena and Vince McMahon will give a temporary boost, but won't fix the crux of the problem, that three hours is way too long for a televised wrestling show with the limited amount of star power at their disposal.
Though Ion Television touted the success of Wednesday' nights debut of WWE Main Event, an audience of 1.4 million viewers is very disappointing for a show that was kickstarted by a WWE champion CM Punk versus World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus dream match. Smackdown regularly pulls in double the amount of viewers on a night that is much more difficult to draw eyeballs in, so Ion probably was not as pleased as they publicly made out to be.
At least WWE can crow about Smackdown now pulling in three times as many viewers as UFC's The Ultimate Fighter, but that's totally due to TUF's ratings being at an all time low than any rise in Smackdown's ratings.
TNA Impact on Thursday, October 4 scored a year-low 0.84 rating, down 18 percent from last week's 0.99 rating. The rating was slightly lower than a 0.85 rating on July 12 during the DirecTV black-out.
Impact dropped to an average of 1.06 million viewers, which was down 20 percent from last week. It was the fewest viewers of the year - fewer than 1.11 million viewers on July 12. Overall, it was the fewest viewers in over two years dating back to June 3, 2010 against the NBA Finals.
Unlike WWE which had the excuse of stiffer football competition from the week before (and the absences of Cena and Mick Foley), on Thursday night 1.6 million less viewers watched the NFL, which suggests that the storylines TNA are currently serving are to blame.
In particular, the main Aces and 8s angle where masked nonentities feud with the whole TNA roster. Last week, the storyline jumped the shark from the hokey to the completely ridiculous when the thugs kidnapped Hulk Hogan and Sting while still holding Joseph Park hostage. Clearly TNA's writing crew has misread what their fans want out of a wrestling show, which isn't a low rent version of FX's hit show Sons Of Anarchy.
They could easy put an end to this nonsense by having Team Hogan of Sting and Bully Ray defeat Aces and 8s at Bound For Glory (BFG), but that is unlikely to happen, given that this angle is Eric Bischoff's and Hogan's brainchild. Indeed, Bischoff is expected to be revealed as the evil mastermind behind bringing these outsiders into the Impact Zone to cause chaos and presumably retake power from Dixie Carter. I'm sure Bischoff will be fine in the role and it's a logical storyline twist, but no-one was clamouring for his return to the promotion nor waiting with baited breath to see him feud with Hulk Hogan again.
This atrocious rating also means that they garnered not one extra viewer for Bellator star King Mo Lawal making his debut for TNA, which is partly TNA's fault as his appearance only had one week's build. But that should not be a big surprise, as King Mo is only well known to hardcore MMA fans, most of whom are apathetic towards or loathe pro wrestling and would never waste their time watching a legitimate fighter play silly games with some phoney rasslers. Though it looks like TNA won't gain much from Lawal's amateurish presence on their shows apart from Spike TV's goodwill, Bellator Fighting Championships could still benefit greatly from this, as over five times more people watched Impact this week than watched their season opener on MTV2, especially if TNA Impact becomes their lead-in in January when they finally make their debut on Spike TV.