Following the ending of the Monday Night War in 2001, professional wrestling has seen a decline in the ratings. Many within in the industry have been analyzing different scenarios for years. The product is stale, the product has been to predicable, both WWE and TNA have been using old recycled storylines, etc.
During the time when World Championship Wrestling was on top and live every week, part of its success was not only the fact they had the new and different New World Order storyline along with raiding half of WWE’s talent roster, but they gave you (and later WWE when Raw started to air live) a reason to tune each because you never knew who may show up on their show or what would happen next. This was the key factor for record breaking ratings within the industry.
The element of a wrestling surprise is what has been missing from professional wrestling and is one of the major factors in low ratings. Keeping the viewers guessing from each week to the next should be a big part of boosting ratings. The viewer’s choice Raw WWE did several months back was a good example. Yes, the show was blah up until the end when out of nowhere, come these NXT rookies to attack John Cena and demolish the ring and take out announcers, camera crew and anyone else who tried to stop them. This was great television. Matches should not be predicable, but unexpected.
The debut episode of SmackDown on SyFy this October will be live. One could hope, although very unlikely, that SyFy would see the benefit of a live show vs. taped on their network each week, and invest in having SmackDown live each week.