It's WrestleMania season and that means WWE is in its annual period of bringing out the big guns to get as big a promotional push as possible for the biggest show of the year. This time, that includes both The Rock and Shawn Michaels getting extended programs with heavy involvement in the two key storylines on Raw, the company's flagship show.
In the case of Rock, of course, he's promoting his match against John Cena and Michaels has now officially been announced as the special guest referee in the Triple H vs. Undertaker Hell in a Cell match. Despite all this, and repeated appearances on Raw, the ratings have yet to reflect any significant change.
In fact, they look remarkably similar to what they always do. PWTorch has the word:
WWE Raw on Monday, March 5 scored a 3.25 rating, up from a 3.13 rating last week. ... Raw averaged 4.61 million viewers overall, down from 4.65 million viewers last week and 4.63 million viewers two weeks ago. Raw averaged 4.65 million first hour viewers, then declined in the second hour to an average of 4.57 million viewers.
Instead of having a lengthy overrun this week like they did last week, WWE wrapped up the show by around 11:04, which is the earliest they've done so in quite some time. It's quite shocking to see that they can promote an entire show centered around an epic confrontation between Rock and John Cena in the main event and the second hour still loses viewers.
Pro wrestling is facing the cold reality that even Rock and HBK aren't moving the needle anymore.
This doesn't mean WrestleMania 28 won't do huge business, possibly -- likely, even -- the most its ever done. It's still somewhat jarring, though, to know there isn't a single star they can bring back that can elevate the product to a point in which it shows significant improvement in the ratings.
The Rock's novelty has worn off and while he's certainly not just a member of the pack, he's no longer a special attraction. At this point, he's a full fledged part of the show. What's really sad here is the angle between he and Cena, as well as the Michaels-Triple H-Undertaker triangle, has been booked beautifully. I'm not sure they could do much better with it, really.
For whatever reason, pro wrestling today has its ceiling and it's not breaking through it anytime soon. Or at least it doesn't appear that way. One thing this does, though, is allay fears of how things will be once these guys all disappear from the main event scene after WrestleMania. If they're not causing a big increase now, they likely won't be causing a decrease later.