When the E! channel ordered up a season of Total Divas, a reality show focusing on the personal and professional lives of seven female wrestlers with WWE, it came as a bit of a surprise. After all, who would think a show featuring talent from a company traditionally spurned by the mainstream would ever have a real shot at being successful?
Then, it was.
Indeed, with a strong lead-in from first run episodes of the wildly popular Keeping Up With The Kardashians series, the ratings were consistently better than TNA gets for its flagship show, Impact, on Spike TV every Thursday. It was such a hit, in fact, that WWE felt it necessary to push the stars of the show on its weekly programming on both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.
But that hasn't worked out at all.
The ongoing story within the Divas division is that the champion, AJ Lee, feels the cast of Total Divas are all beneath her and do not deserve to even lace up her Chuck Taylors. The problem is that she might actually be right.
Take, for instance, a recent breakdown of the segment ratings from a Raw show a couple weeks ago by Dave Meltzer in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
The Dusty Rhodes interview segment with Stephanie McMahon with The Shield and Big Show was a huge quarter, with a gain of 836,000 viewers. Naomi & Cameron & Brie Bella vs. Aksana & Alicia Fox & Layla lost 1,020,000 viewers, which again emphasizes that whatever exposure they got on E! doesn't translate into more interest in them by the Monday night fans, nor has their been any new female shift in Raw viewers from the big female numbers of Total Divas.
WWE grabbed a whole gang of viewers for a hot angle that drew big interest and the cast of Total Divas immediately lost all those viewers and then some. Over 1 million people tuned out of the show during their time on Raw, a staggering loss.
It was during that same segment that AJ Lee and Natalya were doing commentary over the match, seemingly building towards the two of them squaring off for the former's championship. Just to be sure that's what the fans want to see, WWE.com put up a poll asking who everyone wants to see take on AJ for the title.
Kaitlyn, it should be noted, is not a cast member on Total Divas and, in fact, hasn't even been used on TV for weeks now. As you can see, fans are also more interested in seeing Stephanie McMahon get a crack at AJ before Natalya. That's Stephanie McMahon the on screen authority figure who doesn't actually wrestle.
It seems you can get pro wrestling fans interested in reality television but you probably aren't getting reality television fans interested in pro wrestling.