Oh, no no no! Daniel Bryan is still not a TV ratings draw on WWE Raw. Photo via upload.wikimedia.org.
According to Dave Meltzer on his May 31st subscriber only Wrestling Observer radio show, there has been widespread panic within WWE over the terrible 2.7 rating Raw drew on Monday night, to the point that it was a bigger concern internally than Randy Orton's sixty day suspension for a Wellness policy violation. As always when desperation sets in, the reflex to hotshot kicks in, which may mean quicker than expected returns for The Rock and Brock Lesnar if at all possible, or other more out of the box ideas to shake things up radically. Failing that, there's always John Cena to build Raw around even more so than they do now, who had a rare absence from the show this week.
The two most disappointing quarters were Alberto Del Rio vs. Santino Marella, which lost a whopping 700,000 viewers that they never fully recovered from, and CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, which lost viewers in the 10pm time slot, an almost unheard of situation. That's probably a bad sign for Alberto's future as a top heel whose character has come off as stale since his return from a torn groin muscle in early April. Punk and Bryan should be safer, due to how talented they are and their popularity live in WWE arenas, but it's worrying that despite their considerable pushes that the wider television viewing audience hasn't fully taken to them yet. If Bryan didn't have such a cult following, then his push would surely evaporate, given the frequency he's in ratings losing segments.
Kudos should go to my colleague Geno Mrosko who called this exact situation unfolding when he passed on the news about the lowest Raw rating of the year so far:
Big Show may be putting on solid performances enhanced by the Creative team finally getting its collective shit together but the numbers were bad enough to cause discomfort in Stamford, you can count on that. And if we're treated to a John Cena heavy show next week, we'll know the likely reason why.
Of course, with Cena being missing, the public holiday and stiffer than usual TV competition from the Hatfield & McCoys miniseries and the NBA playoffs, any panic is a distinct overreaction. In all likelihood, they'll be back to their usual 2.9-3.0 rating next week regardless of what they script.