It appears when you break down the early ratings for the Monday Night War between WWE RAW and TNA Impact, TNA Wrestling came out the big winners. TNA wound up with the biggest boost to their audience due to the live Monday battle than the World Wrestling Entertainment. TNA came away with new fans, more exposure, and a lot of confidence, whereas the WWE may need to think twice about future Monday Night Wars.
I don’t like the get too much into the ratings because I think they are incredibly overblown in pro wrestling. I like to judge the success of a pro wrestling company on the number of pay-per-view buys. Even if 100 million people tune in and watch your free show on Monday night, if only 40,000 order your show it all means nothing at the end of the day. So the true test will be to see how many people in this new audience translate to customers for TNA Wrestling. Yet in the immediate battle, they are the clear winners as far as I’m concerned.
The battle between Hulk Hogan and his impact (no pun intended) and Bret Hart on the programs is also quite interesting. Hogan’s segment with the N.W.O. and Eric Bischoff at 9PM was the highest rated segment for the show, generating a 1.88. Once again, this was a record number for TNA Impact. Bret Hart opened the WWE RAW program with a 3.6 rating. The 3.6 is really not that impressive to the WWE if you take into account numbers over the last several months. If you break it down and look at the increase in TNA viewership, the time, and the immediate decrease once Hogan left, it looks like one of a few things happened. Either WWE fans turned their televisions on at 9 and either stumbled across TNA and stayed, friends called friends to let them know Hogan was on, or fans tuned into RAW saw Bret Hart, flipped to Spike TV to check out TNA, saw Hogan and opted to stay and see how the N.W.O. reunion was going to play out.
All in all this is tremendous news for TNA Wrestling. TNA had many doubters including yours truly that were predicting ratings below 1.0. Personally, I just didn’t see Hogan having that big of an impact in 2010 to TNA. I was wrong. It would have been interesting to see what TNA could have done if they did more promotion on the show. Unless you read Dixie Carter’s Twitter or a wrestling news website, you had no idea that Jeff Hardy, the N.W.O., Ric Flair, or any other surprises were expected. In TNA’s position, I don’t think you can afford the luxury of teasing surprises. Imagine how many fans would have tuned in if they knew for two weeks that Ric Flair, the N.W.O., and Jeff Hardy would be joining Hulk Hogan on the show?
It is really tough to get a read on the WWE number. It is a nice number, but nowhere near what was expected with Bret’s return. It appears that while Bret did a really nice number, the audience seemed to tune out after he left and checked back in at the end. The JeriShow vs. Degeneration X did bump up to a 4.0, so it looks like fans were tuning in and out, with that match being the only match of interest to keep fans locked in to the show. Yet the 3.6 rating that the show settled in with is actually below a show from last year that featured Donald Trump and a commercial-free edition of WWE RAW which did a 4.5 rating last June.
This is a tremendous start for TNA Wrestling’s new direction. The real test for TNA will be for the next pay-per-view, and the next few weeks of television. If the pay-per-view numbers aren’t boosted, than what does this all mean? It means that fans want to watch an exciting television show, but they aren’t compelled to buy anything promoted on Impact. On the flip side, a big boost in the numbers would justify everything TNA has going for them today and prove a lot of critics wrong.
Between Jeff Hardy, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair, TNA better do great business because none of those guys are coming cheap.
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