POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: How Raw & SmackDown performed this summer

How Raw and SmackDown performed in July & August, go-home episode of Dynamite, update on Santana Garrett, and reviews of NXT 2.0 & AEW Dark.

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-Dynamite is live at 10 p.m. ET tonight as Wai Ting and I review the go-home Dynamite for All Out. We will be live on the POST YouTube immediately after Dynamite and will take your feedback & questions from the Super Chats and POST Wrestling Forum.

**This month on the POST Wrestling Café, we will be coming back with a new Rewind-A-Wai next week covering the February 1997 edition of WWF’s “Royal Rumble Raw” from the SkyDome in Toronto. We will also be doing a new edition of TALK with Wai and I discussing his past month and ASK-A-WAI returns with all your mailbag questions that can be submitted on the POST Wrestling Forum thread. As usual, Café members also have exclusive access to Rewind-A-SmackDown every Friday night as well as MCU L8R on Thursdays. In the coming weeks, we will be going over some additions to the Café at various tiers with some ideas we are currently developing.

**This coming week for POST Wrestling Café members, we’ll have MCU L8R on Thursday followed by Rewind-A-SmackDown on Friday night at 11 p.m. ET and then our Clash at the Castle POST Show on Saturday will also be for Café members. Sunday’s All Out POST Show will be a free show streaming live on the POST YouTube channel immediately after the pay-per-view.

**Our interview with former TSN Off the Record host Michael Landsberg will be released on the site this Friday.

WWE TELEVISION NUMBERS

WWE Raw had a big month in August with the first complete month under the creative leadership of Paul Levesque after Vince McMahon’s resignation on July 22nd. Brandon Thurston noted that it was the first month that Raw averaged more than two million viewers per episode since March 2020 coinciding with the start of the empty arena shows.

Below are the comparisons between August and July in several categories including Canadian viewership which has risen as well:

WWE RAW

Overall viewership:
August: 2,055,000
July: 1,741,000 (Raw landed on July 4th this year and if you factor out the holiday episode, it averaged 1,800,000)
+/-: +18%

18-49:
August
: 0.56
July: 0.44 (0.47 without July 4th)
+/-: +27%

18-34:
August: 0.36
July: 0.30 (0.32 without July 4th)
+/-: +20%

50+:
August: 1.0
July: 0.88 (0.90 without July 4th)
+/-: +14%

Canadian viewership:
August: 252,000
July: 196,000
+/-: +29%

Ranking-wise, Raw was the #1 show among cable originals for seven of the nine weeks in July and August. August was boosted by the August 1st & August 29th editions of the show, which were the two most-watched episodes of Raw this year (both topped the night after WrestleMania on April 4th). The episode on August 1st was two days after SummerSlam and considered the first “real” show under Paul Levesque’s watch given that SummerSlam was largely a Vince McMahon constructed promotion with angles and matches already in place by the time of his removal. This past Monday’s show was extra impressive because it didn’t have the same factors going for it and the hooks included the finals of the tag title tournament and a Kurt Angle appearance. This week’s number indicated an overall gain in interest for the program coming off a strong show in Toronto and momentum building. It also did a huge number in 18-34, which is a demo to watch over the coming weeks. Naturally, Raw is going to incur heavier competition beginning September 12th with the return of Monday Night Football, which will take over Raw’s position as cable leader for the night.

FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN

Overall viewership:
August: 2,024,000 (for three of the four weeks, SD was pre-empted in multiple markets due to the NFL)
July: 2,164,000
+/-: -6.5%

18-49:
August: 0.47
July: 0.51
+/-: -8%

18-34:

August: 0.25
July: 0.32
+/-: -22%

Canadian viewership:
August: 200,600
July: 150,200
+/-: +34%

The market pre-emptions for SmackDown on three of the four Fridays in August are going to play a factor but I wouldn’t attribute all the blame to that factor. Raw has greatly benefited from the regime change while SmackDown has not, although its Canadian viewership is up noticeably this month and that’s airing on a tough night in the country with CFL football. When the Vince McMahon scandal first broke on June 15th, it was SmackDown that saw a boost two nights later when McMahon appeared on the program. SmackDown was also the recipient of the curiosity tune-in when McMahon announced his “retirement” on Friday afternoon July 22nd. There are no more Friday night games for the NFL, so we’ll get a more normalized audience beginning this week, although it’s a rare taped edition of SmackDown because of the Cardiff show the next day. In terms of rankings, SmackDown ranked first among all network programs for eight of the nine weeks in July & August (they tied Univision for one of those eight weeks and finished second to Univision on another week). It is the summer months when there is more rerun programming but being first for the night is still a worthy distinction that any network would covet.

WRESTLING NEWS

**AEW runs its first of three shows at the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois with a live Dynamite tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern. The central focus should be the championship match between Jon Moxley and CM Punk and establishing the main event for Sunday coming off last week’s unification. Punk needs a big promo and he’s in the place to have a memorable one whether it’s opening the show with him cross-legged in the middle and ends by getting up to his feet and selling that he isn’t 100% but will not lose in Chicago as a promise after last week’s defeat, or positioning Moxley as the heel this week given where they are. There are many options and you have two pros when it comes to selling a match that I’d expect strong showings from each one. It is also the first AEW meeting between Kenny Omega and Will Ospreay with the Trios match with an interesting juxtaposition of Ospreay on one of the greatest stretches of matches over the past month while Omega is selling the effects of his litany of injuries and was rusty in his return match. The match should be spectacular, although they won’t be able to promote the Trios final until Rampage ends.

Here is the lineup for tonight’s show:
*Trios Tournament – Semi-Final: Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks vs. Will Ospreay & Aussie Open
*Bryan Danielson vs. Jake Hager – their first singles match since 2014
*Dr. Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter vs. Toni Storm & Hikaru Shida
*Jon Moxley speaks

Dynamite will be airing against the U.S. Open tennis tournament, which is going to be a big deal tonight with Serena Williams set to face Anett Kontaveit beginning around 7 p.m. ET tonight. All the attention of the tournament is on Williams, who will be stepping away for the time being after this tournament.

**Louis Dangoor of GiveMeSport is reporting that Tyson Fury is expected to attend Clash at the Castle this Saturday in Cardiff.

**Daniel Garcia was interviewed by Bleacher Report and spoke about learning from Chris Jericho:

Chris has taught me a lot about the entertainment aspect of wrestling. Something that I really admire about Chris is you can watch his segments, his matches and his promos with no sound. And you could still tell what points he is getting across with just his face. That’s the biggest thing I learned from him: How to portray a story and how to portray emotion without necessarily having to state it abruptly and so broadly to the audience. I think he’s a master at telling the story through his body language and pushing narratives forward without having to say it so straightforward.

**Sean Radican at PW Torch and Fightful reports that Santana Garrett is back as a guest coach at the WWE Performance Center. Garrett posted about her return on Monday but didn’t state if it was a full-time position or a guest coaching role. A source at NXT confirmed to POST Wrestling that it’s a guest coaching role.

**Sunday’s block of WWE programming on A&E featured the two-hour documentary on Rey Mysterio averaging 444,000 viewers and 0.12 in the 18-49 demographic. It was almost identical to the prior week’s special on Edge which averaged 453,000 and 0.11. The Rivals episode on Mysterio vs. Eddy Guerrero averaged 316,000 viewers and 0.09 in 18-49 compared with the previous week’s show on Edge vs. John Cena which did 304,000 and 0.08. Smack Talk averaged 179,000 viewers and 0.05 in the demo, which is up from 144,000 and 0.04 the previous week.

This Sunday is the final week of programming with a two-hour doc on WrestleMania 1 and a Rivals episode chronicling the feud between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella.

After eight weeks, the A&E Biographies are averaging 510,000 viewers and 0.14 in 18-49. Rivals is averaging 383,000 viewers and 0.11 in 18-48. Smack Talk averages 204,000 viewers and 0.06 in the demo.

**Ric Flair spoke to the New York Post about his last match in Nashville last month. Flair admits that faking a heart attack was “in bad taste” and was not a planned spot:

I made the mistake of saying to someone in the match that I felt lightheaded, so everybody jumped way too early [toward the finish of the match], and I just said [in my head] that this was the only way to slow it down.

I did that on my own. I told the referee [to tell] Jeff Jarrett to slow down. Boom, bring it back down and lay the rest of the match out. And we did that. That was an audible to get everybody back on the same track — slow down, I’m fine. It was not the plan. It was not in good taste. I realize that. It was the only thing that was going to keep everybody from going right to the finish.

**Jeannie Buss was on the Strictly Business podcast and discussed her involvement with WOW: Women of Wrestling, which returns next month in syndication across the country and into Canada and Australia among its international markets. Buss has owned WOW since 2011 and worked closely with David McLane throughout the years. She touted WOW as the only all-female wrestling show and a show involving women fighting their own battles as a message for young females. Buss said they finally found the right partner in CBS/Viacom for distribution in 100 percent of the U.S.

**The team at Ad-Free Shows is holding a special fundraiser for Steve “Mongo” McMichael with a free live stream on Fite TV this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. The event will include Ric Flair, Jeff Jarrett, Eric Bischoff, Jim Ross, Mick Foley, Tony Schiavone, and Conrad Thompson with donations being made at MoneyforMongo.com that will go towards his fight with ALS.

**Tony Khan is set to hold his regular call with the media on Thursday afternoon to promote All Out.

**The Undertaker (Mark Calaway) will host his 1 deadMAN Show in Philadelphia on Friday, October 7th at the Theatre of Living Arts on the night before the Extreme Rules event in the city. Tickets will go on sale next Tuesday and will include VIP tickets for a meet-and-greet. Mark Calaway will be hosting two talk shows this weekend in Cardiff, Wales in conjunction with Clash at the Castle.

**Between the Sheets is taking a dive into the WCW sale talks from the fall of 2000 and the reports of talks involving SFX, Mandalay Entertainment, and the World Wrestling Federation (which as the story went, the company was unable to proceed due to their deal with Viacom that wouldn’t allow WWF to run a wrestling program on a rival cable network such as TNT and TBS).

REVIEWS

NXT 2.0 (August 30)
*In terms of a go-home show, it was very strong. The question to ask is whether you were excited to see the event they are promoting and with Worlds Collide, they did a lot on this show to emphasize the importance of the title unifications and having multiple cameos from main roster stars to endorse an NXT talent came off very effective.
*It was very interesting to see the handling of Pete Dunne, who appeared on FaceTime to give Tyler Bate a pep talk. He dropped the entire Butch persona with no illusions to that version of himself.
*Both Gigi Dolin and Zoey Stark were back on television. Dolin got physically involved alongside Jacy Jayne to remove Ivy Nile from her tag match with Tatum Paxley against Katana Chance & Kayden Carter. Stark beat Kiana James and led to Nikkita Lyons running down after the match and it seems they’re keeping Stark & Lyons as a tandem after their makeshift pairing in the tag title tournament.
*The Schism stuff continues to be a dead-end story for me. Joe Gacy is a good talker and you want variety on your show, but this group just hasn’t clicked for me at all. They are continuing with the recruitment of Cameron Grimes with Gacy mentioning that Grimes doesn’t have a family including a father. This led to a brawl but when Gacy had the opening to strike Grimes, he hugged him, instead.
*Charlie Dempsey (Bailey Matthews, the son of William Regal) made his 2.0 debut losing to Andre Chase after dominating him with submission work, including his version of Cattle Mutilation. Dempsey went to the floor to deal with Bodhi Hayward and was caught with a cradle by Chase for the pin. There was no reference to Dempsey’s lineage.
*The final segment saw Carmelo Hayes complaining about not being included on Sunday’s show and led to an appearance by Ricochet to set up the North American title match for Worlds Collide. It was the best Ricochet has come off in a promo but it’s also evident that Hayes is leagues ahead of him in that department.
*The one constant with the NXT crowds is the adulation for the main roster stars, who feel like big deals when they show up including Nikki A.S.H. and Doudrop, who are after thoughts on Raw and SmackDown and were treated like big stars when they confronted Chance & Carter. After having their backstage argument last Friday, there were no signs of dissension among Nikki and Doudrop, although if they lose on Sunday, that can fuel the break-up if that’s the destination. Both need a refresh and Nikki needs to drop the superhero character yesterday.

AEW Dark (August 30)
*Rush and Blake Christian had a nice match in the main event highlighted by Christian’s Fosbury Flop and follow-up springboard 450 splash for a near-fall. Christian leaped into a headbutt by Rush, who hits the Bull’s Horns for the victory.
*The best match on the show was Dante Martin beating AR Fox with Fox taking a lot of the match and looking great. Fox’s big sequence saw him leap to the top to hit a one-man Spanish Fly and hit a 450 splash for a two-count. Martin caught him with the Nosedive to win. I would recommend the two matches mentioned here.
*The Varsity Blonds worked as subtle heels in a short match against Rosario Grillo & Dean Alexander. It was explained they were developing an edge after the quick loss to The Gunn Club on Dynamite recently. These are two guys out of many that are battling for minutes on television, but I like the two as a team and perhaps a heel run opens some doors for them.
*Angelo Parker pinned Gus De La Vega in 17 seconds after an elevated DDT. Along with Matt Menard, they cut a promo stating Parker won his match faster than Hook submitted Zack Clayton on Rampage to continue the build for an FTW title match.
*JD Drake & Anthony Henry beat Oliver Sawyer & Manny Lo with a solid closing sequence where Henry landed a double foot stomp and Drake hit a moonsault from the top turnbuckle on Sawyer. They were interviewed in the ring to essentially distancer Drake from The Wingmen and will focus on teaming with Henry.
*The line of the night was Taz informing Excalibur that when AEW goes to the Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, he’s walking in with a giant Pepsi. Synergy at its finest.

*****
upNXT: Worlds Collide Go-Home Show
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the August 30th, 2022 edition of NXT 2.0 headlined by Gallus vs Diamond Mine.
*****
REWIND-A-RAW: Wai Ting Returns
John Pollock and the returning Wai Ting chat WWE Raw from Pittsburgh featuring the finals of the women’s tag title tournament and an appearance by Kurt Angle.
*****
30th Anniversary of SummerSlam 1992 w/ author Steven Bell

John Pollock is joined by author Steven Bell to discuss the 30th anniversary of Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog at SummerSlam 1992 in Wembley Stadium.
*****
WRESTLENOMICS: Has WWE-AEW momentum shifted?
TV ratings for WWE Raw are doing well since Triple H took over creative after Vince McMahon’s exit. Critical reception of WWE has improved too. AEW’s ratings are stable amid multiple reports of conflicts between talent as the All Out pay-per-view draws near.
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN
John Pollock & Kate from Montreal review the Friday Night SmackDown featuring Drew McIntyre vs. Sami Zayn and AEW Rampage with Claudio Castagnoli vs. Dustin Rhodes.
*****
MCU L8R: She-Hulk Episode 2
WH Park & Rich Fann are joined by Travis Bryant from the PWTorch East Coast Cast to review She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Episode 2: “Superhuman Law”.
*****

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About John Pollock 4406 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.