Monday was a rare instance in which I tuned in to pro wrestling, and I was greeted with the “news” that Donald Trump was buying the WWE’s “Raw” show that airs Monday nights on USA Network.
The storyline came complete with Trump making a grand announcement via satellite that next week’s show (June 22) wold air commercial-free in an attempt to win fans back.
I am thankfully beyond the point of believing that the stories that appear on WWE are real, but NBC released a statement that indicates they’re playing the angle up for all it’s worth (NBC and USA Network are owned by the same company).
“The Monday Night RAW franchise has been one of the top cable franchises since its launch 17 years ago,” said Trump in the release. “I’m going to do things on the show that have never been done or seen before.”
The move seems to be a bit desperate, but give WWE chairman Vince McMahon – always a shrewd businessman – credit for at least trying to pump life back into his product.
WWE will never regain its glory days of a decade ago, when eight-figure viewership was common. “Raw” still draws decent ratings hovering around 5 million viewers each week, but it seems that the ability to draw in new fans – like what was done in the 1990s with The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin – is gone.
This move might just revive interest in fans like me, who grew up during those glory days and have since (basically) moved on. It might also get WWE some press, although the story has largely been ignored to date by most major media outlets.
Whether Trump can breathe fresh air into pro wrestling remains to be seen. But at least McMahon has thought of a stunt that doesn’t involve the fake violating and/or death of anyone. As for Trump, well, I can’t really question someone who has the money that he has, and his name can’t get more soiled than it does with “Celebrity Apprentice,” so good luck.