From the Eye of the Dragon – Ratings Suck!

Tim Wronka

Not a week goes by where you donâ<80><99>t see a few posts on a wrestling website, newsletter, column, or forum talking about television ratings. The concept is all over the net, and is frequently discussed among wrestling fans. It seems that many fans judge wrestling shows based on whether or not the show drew a good rating. It seems that some fans donâ<80><99>t even care about the actual content of the show, but rather the amount of fans watching.

So, the question is: Since the hell when did wrestling fans care so much about ratings? Why do they care to the point where they are discussed, analyzed, and argued over between fans? Do football fans care what Monday Night Football on ESPN draws? Do baseball fans care about the average share the World Series draws? No, they donâ<80><99>t. While some of those fans may like the trivia, you donâ<80><99>t see them overanalyzing the numbers to any great extent.

So what makes wrestling fans care? Why the need for so much information on simple numbers? Itâ<80><99>s not like we are promoters or company executives who have money on the line.

To answer this, letâ<80><99>s ponder another question. Do the wrestlers themselves care about TV ratings? Well, letâ<80><99>s see.

Shawn Michaels said it best on the Monday Night War DVD where he stated that when he first broke into the business, no one cared about ratings. Even when he had won the WWE Championship for the first time in 1996, ratings werenâ<80><99>t an issue. That seems to be true. While Iâ<80><99>m sure the networks cared about the ratings since they wanted to sell advertising, there was no reason that the WWE wrestlers should have cared. As far as they were concerned, they would have a job and place to wrestle as long as they put on decent shows and someone somewhere was watching Raw. That all soon changed though.

WWE wrestlers started to care about ratings as soon as WCW came around and made their goal to beat Raw every Monday. Plain and simple. In fact, ratings were all that WCWâ<80><99>s fearless leader, Eric Bischoff, cared about. He would throw away millions and give away free pay-per-view matches on Monday Nitro just to beat Raw. He was even insane enough to skip over the run-downs for upcoming PPV events for fear that viewers would turn the channel to Raw. (This was ludicrous thinking, considering that most WCW fans wouldnâ<80><99>t even know what matches were on a PPV event to take place in mere days.) For a time, Ericâ<80><99>s schemes worked. However, thereâ<80><99>s only so long you can go until things start to backfire.

Thatâ<80><99>s just what happened. Ericâ<80><99>s obsession with beating Raw was at the top of the list of numerous problems that plagued WCW for a time, and soon its inevitable downfall came about.

Now, WWE is left the only credible dog in the yard. Of course we all know that. Yet, one powerful effect of the Monday Night Wars has remained constant, and that is the ratings. Before the â<80><9c>war,â<80> no one seemed to care about ratings. Now, the powers that be analyze ratings on a regular basis to see how shows are progressing. Advertisers want to know how strong an audience is so they can invest money. So, even though all credible competition is gone, ratings still matter. And this time not just by wrestlers, promoters, and advertising sponsors, but by wrestling fans as well.

It still baffles me that wrestling fans put the concept of television ratings on such a pedestal. Again, who are we to care about how well a wrestling show did? Weâ<80><99>re not running a promotion. Now, I would say itâ<80><99>s different if we were just curious for the trivia. But no, it doesnâ<80><99>t stop there. Wrestling fans will see a number, and then debate why itâ<80><99>s low, why itâ<80><99>s high, how it happened, whose fault it is, etc, etc, etc. In the end, it gets nothing accomplished except people arguing with each other about numbers. Simple numbers!

From what Iâ<80><99>ve observed, wrestling fans always seem to want high ratings. It doesnâ<80><99>t matter they have no stake in a company; they want to see high ratings. The only plausible reason for this can be so that they know they arenâ<80><99>t the only losers sitting around and watching a wrestling show. It may sound harsh, but what other reason is there? Iâ<80><99>ve heard first hand a fan say they enjoyed a show, and then as soon as a low rating came out, they turned around and said it sucked. Whatâ<80><99>s that all about? This happens more than you think.

Why should that matter? Fans should enjoy a show based on the content, not the rating. More importantly, their opinion should matter much more then some researched number that Mr. Neilson likes to release a few times a week.

In essence, a wrestling fan caring about a rating is like a pet animal caring about what they look like. It just doesnâ<80><99>t make sense! Wrestling fans spend their life enjoying an alternative product. So going with the masses and caring about how the rest of the nation enjoyed the show is ludicrous. If you go with the masses, then you shouldnâ<80><99>t be a wrestling fan in the first place. It goes against the basic grain that makes wrestling fans what they are.

So how do we remedy this? Well, itâ<80><99>s time we sit back and say ratings donâ<80><99>t really matter. Yes, they do matter for wrestling companies since they need to figure what works and what doesnâ<80><99>t. Yet fans need to stop obsessing over mere numbers. If you think SmackDown is the greatest show on TV, then say it. Who cares that show can barely draw a 3.0 anymore. Are you a fan of TNA? Then by all means say you love Impact, as they can use all the support they can get. If some jackass smark tells you that you shouldnâ<80><99>t like a show because it had a bad rating, tell them to go to hell.

The bottom line is that unless you are an advertiser, promoter, or stock holder, the ratings of wrestling shows donâ<80><99>t matter in the least. The next time you sit there and ponder why a certain show got a certain rating, just tell yourself to relax, and remember, itâ<80><99>s only wrestling.


Thanks for reading! I know itâ<80><99>s been a while since I have had a column out, but I hope you enjoyed this one. Have any feedback? Questions, comments or concerns? Well please donâ<80><99>t hesitate to contact me as I love talking to my readers!


AIM: Last ride 417

Thanks for reading and until next time, this has been From the Eye of the Dragonâ<80>¦

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