For those who have ever wondered why WWE’s ratings are dropping, the Monday Night Raw after WrestleMania 35 spelled it out clearly.
If there’s ever an episode to watch, it’s this one. The crowd is always hot after WrestleMania weekend, and being in the WWE’s northeastern turf only lent to the excitement.
There was plenty to get excited about, too. Lars Sullivan made an appearance for a big reaction. Becky Lynch (aka “The Man”) cut a great promo then laid a beatdown on one sassy southern belle who dared to try and steal her moment. Dean Ambrose made his final appearance before leaving the WWE. Even the Undertaker showed up for a surprise beatdown of Elias.
However, all of these moments paled in comparison to the main event – or at least it seemed that way, until it happened. Seth Rollins and Kofi Kingston had claimed the company’s world titles at the biggest pay-per-view of the year. They agreed to face off in a winner-take-all showdown.
The former was a fan-favorite who had hung around the main-event scene for years and finally dethroned Brock Lesnar to huge fanfare. The latter was a tough veteran whose sheer longevity made his rise to champion status like something out of an epic movie.
Sure, seeing one of them lose their belt a night after they got it would be hard – especially considering the fans liked both wrestlers. Yet, that lent to the must-see nature of the showdown and had even those jaded or disassociated fans curious to tune in and see who would walk away a champ.
However, WWE pulled a bait-and-switch, which didn’t go over too well with the audience. Only a few minutes into the main event, The Bar stormed the ring and attacked both competitors causing a disqualification.
Even when Rollins and Kingston joined forces against them and it turned into a tag team match, there was a loud chant of “bullsh*t” from the fans in attendance – we’ve got to think those watching at home shared the sentiment. If there was to be a run-in that ruined the main event, why couldn’t it have at least been NXT’s Undisputed Era? Post-Mania Raws have always been a great place for callup debuts.
Non-finishes have always been a thing in professional wrestling, but knowing when to use them is important. More importantly, knowing when not to use them is key to avoid enraging the audience. It’s a testament to how WWE has become disinterested in what its audience wants, and how they don’t mind giving them the proverbial finger as if they were Stone Cold in the Attitude Era.
After the show, fans in attendance audibly chanted “AEW.” Only a couple nights after Triple H referred to the bustling promotion as a “piss ant company,” having their name chanted on WWE programming has to sting.
With the Superstar Shakeup coming next week, WWE could recapture fan interest soon enough. However, this type of booking choices can send audience members away in droves.