Viewership for pro wrestling has seen a steady decline for a number of years now, and there are many factors involved in that decline. General interest in what the likes of WWE has to offer is a big one, but even AEW isn’t seeing numbers like they once were when the promotion debuted.
On his latest 83 Weeks podcast episode, Eric Bischoff put forth a theory on what exactly has happened to the audience (transcription via Wrestling Inc):
“The one question that nobody ever asks about fucking anything whether it’s politics, entertainment, or whatever it is, is ‘why’? Why did those people leave and where did they go? I have a theory and my guess or instinct tells me that 18-49 demo - my sense is that those people are watching the news.
“Look at Tucker Carlson’s 18-49, look at CNN’s 18-49, look at MSNBC. That was the wrestling audience. Where have they gone? They’ve gone to cable news. Why have they gone to cable news? Because cable news is more like professional wrestling than professional wrestling used to be. Their promos are fucking awesome!
“Regardless of your political ideologies, or what you believe in, or where you get your information from, it doesn’t fucking matter. Everybody does the same thing. They get up there, and they fucking argue, and they cut great promos on each other. It’s great narrative. There’s almost always someone up there that you want to choke and there’s almost always someone up there that’s saying what you believe in. So, you’re investing more emotion watching cable news than you get from watching wrestling because the promos are better!”
He’s not wrong, necessarily, and America has been dealing with Donald Trump as President for the past few years. The news has never been so interesting, and networks have never been so willing to cover it in the way Bischoff describes. That’s a trend even beyond cable news. Skip Bayless has been yelling nonsensical sports takes for what feels like forever.
The simplest explanation here may just be that, well, pro wrestling in 2020 just isn’t very good. If it was worth the time, a lot more folks would watch it.