Since the dawn (or dusk) of Monday Night Raw, the goal of a WWE pay per view has always been to make viewers so excited about what just happened that they have to tune in to Raw the following night to see the fallout. In those regards, WWE Payback failed miserably. The ratings for last night's Raw are in and they are dismal.
WrestlingInc reported that the episode ,which featured an amazing Triple Threat main event with The Miz defeating Seth Rollins and Finn Balor to become the new #1 contender to WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, drew only 2.87 million viewers. According to their stats, "This is down 4.5% from last week's 3.007 million viewers for the Payback go-home episode and the lowest number of the year."
They went on to report that the first hour drew 2.924 million viewers, while the second garnered 3.039 million viewers and the final hour only brought in 2.649 million viewers.
To be fair, comparing this Raw to the rest of the year is a bit unfair. The year always kicks off in the proverbial "road to WrestleMania" season, which has viewers tuning in to see who is coming back for the Royal Rumble and which feuds may be heading towards a match on The Grandest Stage Of Them All.
The WrestleMania hangover is real and Raw's ratings are certainly feeling the effects. This year, however, Raw is doing less to capitalize on the WrestleMania buzz than they ever have before.
Let's look at who from the Raw roster were in the top spots at WrestleMania: Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Roman Reigns, Triple H, Seth Rollins. Of those six men, only two are appearing on Raw weekly and only one over the last three weeks.
Despite the excellent main event performance by Miz, Balor and Rollins, fans were justified in tuning out. You can't expect viewers to be excited when you tease Rollins and Balor demanding a shot at Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship only to replace it with a battle to face Dean Ambrose, whose Intercontinental Championship was so important that it wasn't even defended on the main WrestleMania card or the RAW branded pay per view.
WWE played a game of "we switched replaced their Folgers coffee, let's see if they notice" and EVERYONE noticed.
The Beast is not expected to defend his Universal Championship until July, which means Raw will need to get real creative with how they discuss their number one championship belt. The downtime between Lesnar's contractual obligations can be used to build up stars like Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins, but if those men aren't demanding a shot at the Universal Championship in the meantime, it devalues that title greatly.