There's a certain segment of the pro wrestling fanbase who couldn't care less about television ratings. And while I can understand why that might be the case, we know WWE often makes knee jerk decisions based solely on the numbers they get back from Nielson.
That alone makes them important.
So let's look at the numbers from this week's (April 22, 2013) episode of Monday Night Raw (estimates come by way of the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which you should have a subscription for):
- Paul Heyman was the first face fans saw to start the show and his angle with Triple H to set up the steel cage match between "The Game" and Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules did a 3.04 rating. Immediately after, R-Truth vs. Antonio Cesaro lost 163,000 viewers.
- Brodus Clay vs. Damien Sandow and a backstage skit with AJ, Dolph Ziggler, Vickie Guerrero, and Brad Maddox gained back 153,000 viewers. Ziggler's match with Chris Jericho, which came at the top of the second hour, gained 439,000 viewers. That's good for that slot.
- Cody Rhodes vs. Tensai, not surprisingly, turned around and lost 224,000 viewers. The slide continued with Big E. Langston's squash of Zack Ryder losing another 139,000 viewers.
- The big gain of the night came with the Undertaker & Team Hell No vs. The Shield match, which gained 581,000 viewers at the top of the third hour. That's outstanding for that slot and shows that the old dog can still draw with hot new talent, who went over without sacrificing the champions or the legend. With all the information now available, absolutely everything about this was a smashing success. Extremely well done by WWE.
- The turnaround here is unreal. Fandango vs. William Regal, a squash to put Fandango over, lost a staggering 949,000 viewers, which is right up there for the most lost viewers in a number of years.
- Another surprise came with the Diva's battle royal gaining 302,000 viewers. It's almost like fans bailed for Fandango and came back for whatever was next.
- Finally, Mick Foley and Ryback's confrontation with John Cena running out towards the end gained 548,000 viewers in the overrun, ending with a 3.43 rating. That's good for the three hour era, but not nearly what it always used to be.
It's no surprise that Undertaker's first Raw match in three years or so would do good numbers, especially considering it was against the hot new trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns. It's a big shock that Fandango would lose such a gargantuan number of viewers, though you could argue that it's proof positive the smark crowd does not speak for the general audience.
Plus, WWE had to go and try its best to ruin "Fandangoing." So there's that to consider.