How does that old saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me?
What about fool me five times?
WWE has, for the better part of the last month, teased that Brock Lesnar would be cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Raw, then at Super ShowDown last Friday, and yet here we are weeks later only for Lesnar to still be holding the briefcase and the contract for an automatic championship match.
Clearly, the WWE audience isn’t going to be fooled by Vince McMahon any longer.
WWE advertised a “cash-in decision” three weeks ago, only for Lesnar to not announce a decision. They advertised two weeks ago that Lesnar would cash-in on Seth Rollins during that night’s episode … only he didn’t.
Lesnar then said himself that he would cash in at Super ShowDown … but he didn’t.
WWE’s ratings are plummeting at a record pace and the company is trying to do anything it can to keep viewers during the height of NBA and NHL playoff seasons on network television. But the numbers say their strategy of continuously advertising something, and then not delivering, is also not working.
RAW did 2.13 million viewers this past week, which was its lowest mark “in modern history,” according to the Wrestling Observer, outside of Christmas or New Year’s Eve episodes. The previous non-holiday low was 2.16 million viewers, and that was set only a few weeks ago.
RAW lost 19.8 percent of its audience from the first hour to the third hour. Yikes. Only 1.9 million people watched the third hour.
What has WWE accomplished with these bait-and-switch strategies? They haven’t increased viewership, as the show continues to hit record lows, and they’re probably alienating a segment of their hardcore audience that tunes in every week by continually advertising something and not delivering.
The “wildcard” gimmick, which essentially ends the brand split, was Vince McMahon’s other big idea to get WWE out of a huge ratings hole.
He’s just going back to old tactics.
When the original brand split ended 10 years ago it was because WWE’s programming was dipping below 3.5 million viewers. Now, it’s dipping below 2 million.
Ending the brand split didn’t end the slide then. And, it won’t now.
Upsetting the hardcore audience that tunes in every week by advertising a match and then not delivering is not only not helping, it is the biggest sin a promoter can commit. If it’s advertised, you get the match in the ring. It’s why Vince paid Ultimate Warrior 27 years ago when he tried to hold him up at SummerSlam for more money (and then fired him after the match). You do what you need to do in order to get the match in the ring. Vince has been spitting in that rule’s face for the last month.