PWTORCH LIVECAST TUESDAY
HOSTS: WADE KELLER & JASON POWELL
AIRED LIVE: OCT. 20 2015
By Nick Gould, PWPodcasts Reporter
TOP SUBJECTS COVERED
– Raw slips to a 2.2 rating, although viewership is up on last week’s show.
– Hotshotting? Panic-booking? What was the approach to booking this week’s Raw?
– If Michaels + Flair + Austin + Lesnar + Heyman + Undertaker = only a 2.2, how much worse could it have been?
– The Shield reunited. Then disbanded again. All in the space of an hour.
– Brock is Brock. If you don’t like him, he doesn’t care.
– Erick Rowan is back, though you’d be forgiven for not noticing.
– Who replaces John Cena, particularly now that Orton’s out injured? By the way, where is Cena going exactly?
– Owen Hart in HOF? NXT to take over U.S. Title?
SUMMARY OF SHOW
– (0:00) Intro Theme
– (0:29) Wade welcomes listeners to the show, then introduces himself, PWTorch.com, and the format of the show, as well as updating listeners on upcoming Livecasts this week.
– (10:40) Wade introduces Jason Powell from Prowrestling.net. Wade asks Jason whether Raw this week was simply made up of one hotshot after another, particularly with the amount of legends on the show, and wonders whether WWE would have booked Raw in this way if ratings were in the 2.6 bracket. Jason thinks they’d have booked this Raw in this way regardless of ratings, and asks whether Raw could really have been said to have been a ‘hotshot’ show given that Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair are seen fairly regularly on WWE TV (for ‘legacy’ acts). Jason notes that Austin appearing on Raw was something of a surprise, although he was in the building for his post-Raw podcast with Brock Lesnar.
Jason feels the only thing on this week’s Raw that could be described as hotshotting was the reunion of The Shield. Wade notes that he hears that Vince McMahon continues to play down Raw’s ratings as part of a broader drop off of TV viewers across all programs. Wade also points out that Network subscriber numbers, investors/Wall Street/WWE Stock price are the markers that Vince seems to be judging the product by, and notes that WWE’s current TV deal is guaranteed, and so payments for Raw are the same regardless of the ratings. However, while Wade doesn’t feel that this week’s Raw was panic-booked purely to bump up ratings, he does feel that The Shield reuniting may have been a swing for a ratings boost. Jason questions WWE’s approach to reuniting The Shield and then disbanding them again in the space of an hour’s television, with no build-up or follow through.
– (14:20) Wade asks Jason for Raw viewership numbers. Jason reports that Raw was up overall to 3.356 million viewers from last week’s 3.284 million. This week’s hourly breakdown of viewers showed a drop off from 3.600 (1st hour) to 3.345 (2nd hour) to 3.123 (3rd hour). Jason notes that Raw continues to lose a significant number of its viewers by the third hour, and notes that a Shield reunion couldn’t prevent that from happening again this week. Jason wonders why WWE continues to load up the first hour with stars (this week Austin, Brock, Heyman, and Taker in the first 10 minutes) without taking the effort to build in a ‘hook’ relating to these stars and their storylines that would keep people watching the whole show. Wade jokes that on Austin’s podcast Lesnar said that he loved being in the ring but hated travelling from ring to ring, so maybe this means he hates even having to go to the same ring more than once! Wade agrees with Jason’s point generally. Wade feels there’s perhaps an argument for WWE to make in terms of wanting to avoid overexposing characters/performers, although he feels its also perhaps as valid to say that WWE wants to get as many viewers to watch the show before they switch over to Monday Night Football.
– (16:56) Wade brings up Austin’s podcast with Lesnar and asks what we learnt about Brock from it. Jason feels we learned nothing new. Jason is disappointed that we didn’t hear Brock’s views on his relationship with Heyman, but liked the podcast overall. Wade notes that the last three minutes of the podcast seemed uncomfortable due to the sudden switch from Brock being out of character to cutting an uncomfortable promo. Uncomfortable is the word of the day, as the hosts discuss Brock’s line about ‘feeding the Jew,’ why he needs to have others talk for him, and why his own promos need to be scripted. Wade feels that Austin was clever to ease into the conversation, although it caused something of a shaky start. Jason feels that this was strategic by Austin, and got Lesnar to relax and give fuller answers than he perhaps would have to later questions. The issue of Austin refusing to job to Brock years ago came up, which both hosts feel was a highlight of the podcast. Wade likes Brock’s honesty throughout and recommends that listeners check out the show on the Network if they have not already. Wade feels that Brock’s discussion on his interactions with The Rock also highlighted The Rock’s nature backstage, as well as offering a good lesson for all young wrestlers in terms of sticking to ‘their’ lane.
– (27:40) Wade transitions to Raw, noting that it was weird that the challenger to the WWE World Title (Kane) on Sunday was not featured on the show at all. Wade notes Randy Orton’s injury forced a re-write of the show in parts.
– (29:01) Jerry from Reading is our first caller. Jerry notes that he couldn’t help be interested in wondering what the point of the legends appearances on Raw were. Wade notes that he thinks it’s cool to see retro stars on TV, although notes that Shawn Michaels’s use was a little confusing, and again led to Seth Rollins being framed as a gullible man-child. Jason didn’t like the backstage segments, but liked Michaels’s back-and-forth exchanges with Rollins in the ring. Jason notes that this was better than the usual ‘zany’ Shawn Michaels we usually see in his guest appearances, and feels it’s unfortunate that the quality of their in-ring promo will leave us disappointed that we’ll never see a Rollins-Michaels match. Wade reports he’s never been a fan of Michaels’s presentation as the zany Triple H sidekick. Wade notes that Michaels and Seth standing next to each other, sharing the stage, says a lot about where Rollins has come in the past year, and thinks its important that stars from the past are positioned with some relevance to current talent.
– (32:38) D.J. from Miami points out that it was strange how Erick Rowan’s return with The Wyatts was downplayed, which Wade also thinks was strange. Jason feels that the viewers deserved to have more time/attention spent on establishing the back-story of how Rowan came to be back in the Wyatt fold. D.J. then asks whether the upcoming release of the Owen Hart DVD means he’ll be inducted into the Hall Of Fame this year. Jason doesn’t feel WWE should induct Owen unless his wife and/or children were in agreement, as it might lead to some backlash. Jason doesn’t feel Owen needs to be inducted in Texas specifically. Wade feels that Owen had a HOF-worthy career, although feels WWE missed a step with not establishing Owen as a bigger star than Bret once Bret left. Wade feels that the circumstances need to be right when inducting Owen into the HOF so that the focus is on Owen’s induction, not his death and the aftermath of it.
– (38:53) D’rell from Georgia asks who the hosts feel will be John Cena’s mystery opponent at Hell In A Cell, and also wants to know whether Super-Roman is the new version of Super-Cena. Jason feels that Cena’s opponent is likely to be somebody like Big Show (i.e., a main roster talent who doesn’t have a match already). Jason thinks the tone of Cena’s appearance on ESPNews might tell us more, although he notes that WWE did not push the issue as being a big deal on Raw. Jason notes that it could be somebody like Carlito or Alberto Del Rio. Wade asks whether he’s wrong to be rooting for it to be Samoa Joe. Jason doesn’t think he is. Wade argues that Samoa Joe, or James Storm, as veterans who are ‘ready’ for main TV would add a new area of interest to Raw with a performer who would be in a position to cope with the demands of performing on TV right away.
Regarding, Super-Roman, Wade notes that Reigns has certainly been featured more in recent weeks, although feels that this is to be expected given his match with Bray at HIAC. Jason feels there is something more going on in terms of WWE seeing Reigns as the heir-apparent to John Cena. Jason feels the push hasn’t been working, although worked better last night. Jason still feels that Reigns would be much better placed as a heel.
– (47:14) Eric from Grand Rapids wants to know whether the hosts see WWE turning a heel babyface given that Cena will be gone for a period and Randy Orton is apparently out injured. He also asks if Andre the Giant ever got a title shot against Bob Backlund, as Eric feels this was a program that could have drawn money. Jason doesn’t know whether WWE will turn anyone, although feels that the combination of Cena and Orton’s absence means that WWE will need to focus on somebody else, which he’s excited about. Wade tables Eric’s other question for Thursday’s Livecast with Bob Backlund.
– (50:09) Breaking News. Raw ratings are in. Wade notes that viewership may be up (see above) but ratings are down. Wade announces that Raw this week scored a 2.21, which is a significant drop from last week’s 2.33. Wade notes that Monday Night Football was up 13 percent this week, although viewership numbers for MNF were no greater than you would expect. Jason isn’t surprised by the rating. He feels that the recent quality of Raw, along with the NFL and other programming available on other channels, puts Raw in a tough spot. Wade reports that this is the first 2.2 rating in around 18 years. Wade puts the rating into context, explaining that exactly a year ago Raw scored a 2.7, describing the sharp drop in ratings over the last year as being reflective of fans no longer feeling engaged in or enthused by the current product.
Wade feels that the chance of Vince listening to dissenting voices in the company increases as the ratings drop. Jason hopes this is true and leads to a focus on younger talent. Wade points to the lack of meaningful main roster talent, and the over-exposure of talent in general, leads to short term booking, giving away matches that should be protected. Jason notes that WWE better have The Rock lined up for WrestleMania, as the current roster hasn’t been built strongly enough to fill the card out well. Wade counters by saying that Austin, Michaels, and Flair only got WWE a 2.2 rating this week, and imagines how bad the rating would have been without those talents.
– (1:03:50) Jay from Tampa comments that Brock commented on not caring about the intricacies of the wrestling world on Austin’s podcast, and asks what the hosts think about WWE having invested Undertaker’s Streak in a guy that doesn’t have much interest in the ‘business’ aspect of wrestling. He also asks whether we’ll see Sami Zayn as part of the U.S. Title follow-up, and whether there’s any equity in any established stars (Kane/Henry/Big Show etc.) and whether they can give a rub to any of the younger talent. Jason makes the point that punching in and punching out at work is what most people do anyways. Jason notes that Brock doesn’t need to be a wrestling fan to be a success in wrestling, and argues that the quality of his work has helped sell tickets, Network subscriptions etc. Wade notes that, as much as Lesnar may have said that he doesn’t care about owning Undertaker’s Streak, he seemed to be making his case for why he should own it several times.
Wade thinks Sami Zayn would be a good option for the U.S. Title, although Jason feels he’s the kind of character we need to see on a journey before he wins. Wade feels the older stars can, to varying degrees, give a rub to younger talent, although doesn’t feel Big Show and Kane are able to give as much of a rub as they should be.
– (1:15:18) Eric in San Antonio list Sami Zayn, Tyler Breeze, and Finn Balor are his U.S. Title contenders (in order of preference). Eric asks whether the hosts can give some clarity as to Cena’s upcoming absence. Jason reports that Cena is due to film a show with Fox, although this is not his main reason for taking time off. Jason notes that Cena is not advertised for Monday’s Raw, and looks likely to be off for six weeks from Sunday.
– (1:17:18) Mike from Brooklyn feels Joe or Balor should take the U.S. Title. He asks if New Day drop the Tag Titles to the Dudleys on Sunday. Jason doesn’t feel there’s any momentum to suggest the Dudleys winning. Wade agrees. The hosts both think its absurd that WWE haven’t let Bubba talk. Jason feels that the Dudleys returned as a ‘fresh’ act, but the writing and booking since has presented them more like Kane in that they feel stale.
– (1:26:09) Scott in New Jersey. He asks whether Hideo Itami is fit to return and if so, could he challenge Cena on Sunday. He also wants to know (following recent Livecasts) how long new opponents would be built for to face Bob Backlund. That question gets saved for Thursday. Jason doesn’t think Itami is healthy yet and doesn’t feel this would be a good way to introduce Itami anyway. Wade agrees.
– (1:28:54) Wade wraps up the show with details of PWTorch.com, future Livecasts, and PWTorch’s social media presence.
– (1:33:46) Outro.
SCORE & REVIEW
8 out of 10: The Tuesday Livecast this week focused mainly on the overall takeaways from Raw, and the Austin/Lesnar podcast, with the ratings taking over as they were announced.
Once again, the hosts discussed recent developments such as Austin’s podcast, exploring some of the more interesting aspects of Lesnar’s responses in more detail. As usual, Wade and Jason provided interesting insights into the topics discussed. The show flowed nicely again this week, and although it felt like we got to hear from fewer callers than usual, the show didn’t feel rushed at all.
In many ways, this week’s Livecast mirrored Raw. Please don’t assume that I’m being down on the Livecast! In many ways, though, the main topic for discussion (Raw) is stale, uninteresting, and riddled with the same Creative black holes every single week. There’s only so many ways, for so many weeks in a row, that Wade and Jason can explore what seem like the most blindingly-obvious solutions to the most blindingly-obvious problems. So you could say that, other than the discussion of Austin’s podcast, there’s not a lot new in this week’s Livecast.
It feels slightly unfair to say that. To clarify (again) that’s not a criticism of the hosts, nor is it a criticism of anyone else involved in this week’s show. The Tuesday Livecast gets an 8.0 from me (as it did last week), which reflects the showing feeling solid, well-paced, and informative, particularly in relation to Austin’s podcast.
Certainly, I found the discussions regarding Raw interesting, although these discussions do refer back to points originally made in the previous few weeks Livecasts, and so are perhaps best seen as part of the on-going assessment of the current product. In this context, it might be that I (and regular listeners) get more out of these discussions, because we’ve listened to the whole of these discussions previously and fit each subsequent Raw’s problems into what was previously discussed.
For those listeners who feel they are already familiar with Wade and Jason’s views on the general issues with Raw, you may want to skip to the parts where Brock’s responses to Austin are discussed, as these definitely added another perspective on some of the responses offered on Austin’s podcast, which meant that I went and re-listened/watched the podcast and felt I got much more from it the second time.