WWE Monday Night Raw hit viewers with multiple instances of surprise and that unpredictability seems to be a key ingredient for success.
Unpredictability goes a long way in television. Today’s viewing habits call for moments that keep viewers guessing; driving them to turn in next week to see what happens. This week’s WWE Monday Night Raw was the first under new “leadership” of sorts with Paul Heyman.
Viewers and those in attendance got multiple examples of how unpredictability could impact a show in a positive way. Now the question becomes whether said unpredictability will lead to success for the show and initial results are a resounding “yes.”
On Monday, wrestling fans were given multiple “oh my God” like moments. There was Braun Strowman driving Bobby Lashley through the LED board. Corey Graves yelling out “Holy [expletive]” on live television. Maria Kanellis and her entire delivery across the show; railing her husband Mike in multiple ways. Plus, Alexa Bliss, a woman that WWE Creative is firmly behind presenting as a strong component to the women’s division, getting pinned in five seconds.
All these moments are situations that very few could have predicted heading into Monday evening. And now, it’s time to see if this is a continued trend for the brand.
Multiple reports across the wrestling industry are reporting an important uptick in viewership for Raw this week. According to Sean Ross Sapp of FightFul, the show hit 2.49 million viewers as compared to 2.275 million from the previous week. If one also looked at how the YouTube viewership was trending from this week, the Lashley vs. Strowman moment has 2.5 million views.
The Kanellis “I’m pregnant” moment has 1.1 million. The Undertaker’s appearance has 1.6 million. The most viewed moments are those that were unknown to the fans watching and those that attended the event – proving that unpredictability has some value in creating content such as that within professional wrestling.
After one week, it seems like the idea of unpredictability has had a positive impact on the promotion. But this shouldn’t surprise anyone as it’s not a new idea. This calls back to the heyday of the Attitude Era during the Monday Night Wars.
Millions of people tuned in week to week out of sheer curiosity of what was going to happen this week. Who would turn on their partners/faction members? Who would jump from one promotion to the other? Who would win a big title in a surprise match? These types of questions pushed viewers to sit in front of their television for hours to make sure they wouldn’t miss anything.
While the Attitude Era is thankfully long gone, the desire to keep fans guessing and tuning in to everything the WWE has to offer is alive and well. That is what has made the introduction of Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff so interesting. Even though these are two men who have held the spotlight in wrestling decades ago, it seems like they are both poised to inject an air of unpredictable action into the WWE Universe; something that has been missing for an extended period.
If Monday Night Raw is a precursor to what wrestling fans will receive in the weeks and months to come, here’s to rebuilding the excitement through unpredictable action that was once a main draw to the flagship show.