According to the Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Live Radio, both the FOX and USA Networks are putting pressure on WWE to have its top stars work both Raw and Smackdown due to poor program ratings. This somewhat explains the bizarre “wild card” rule announced by Vince McMahon on last night’s episode of Raw, where he stated that a certain set of superstars can jump back and forth between the brands at any point. This week’s viewership numbers haven’t been released yet, but WWE did have Game 4 of the NBA playoff showdown between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors to compete with.
Meanwhile, last week’s numbers were the lowest WWE has had all year, down significantly from the same point last year at the start of the new quarter. SmackDown Live specifically has dropped nearly 40% in the 18-35 demographic.
Here is what Meltzer had to say on Wrestling Observer Radio this morning:
“Their backs were against the wall. They had to make changes. There is a lot of pressure from the outside. Does it come across as completely unorganized? Yes.
He [Vince] didn’t want to give up the idea of brands. The pressure was definitely there from both sides, NBC Universal and Fox. Although Fox isn’t in the game yet. They both will not be happy with bad ratings. Because of how much money they’re spending.
It’s a lot different game than this XFL where so-so ratings are fine because they’re not spending any money on it. These companies want ratings with that kind of money they are spending. Especially because it’s not an advertiser friendly product. They want star power. And these brands individually don’t have enough star power.
Fox wanted storylines that are gonna be on both Raw and Smackdown. NBC Universal was real upset about the ratings, especially the third hour. And was asking questions about, ‘if the ratings are this and this why are we giving away Roman Reigns?’ So, the pressure is on for the top stars to work both shows.”