It’s two days after WWE’s big celebration of the 25th anniversary of Raw, and frankly, we’re still doing our best to process the whole thing. Raw 25 was heavy on nostalgia and star power — by which we almost exclusively mean the stars of the past — and thanks to their efforts in promotion and treating the event like a suitably big deal, it’s clear the aim was to target the casual or lapsed fan right as we’re about to embark on the Road to WrestleMania.
The Best and Worst of Raw thoroughly investigates the double edged sword of trading so hard on nostalgia, but pretty much everyone can agree that Raw 25, despite doing everything in its power to bring in new or missing eyeballs, didn’t do a great job of explaining to those eyeballs and earholes that the Royal Rumble is on Sunday, and why viewers should be excited about that.
The last time we checked in with the Raw ratings was prior to the Survivor Series, when things received a decent bump all the way up to a three-hour average of just over three million viewers. Well, as you might expect, Raw 25 did better than that. A whole lot better.
According to ShowBuzzDaily, Raw 25 averaged a whopping 4.53 million viewers for the three-hour show, which is the biggest audience an episode of WWE television has had since March 30, 2015. If you’re wondering why so many friggin’ people were watching that episode of Raw, that was the Raw that aired the day after WrestleMania 31, when Seth Stinkin’ Rollins shocked the world and “stole” the WWE Championship. It was also the main roster debuts of Neville and the Lucha Dragons, which is probably more to blame for that monster rating.
The first hour of Raw 25 was simply gargantuan, pulling in over 4.8 million viewers. The second hour (after Undertaker’s weird appearance in the Manhattan Center) went down to 4.641 million viewers, and the third hour finished with 4.147 million people watching. While the audience diminished by 656,000 during the course of the always-very-long three hours, that 4.5 million average is a solid home run for WWE.
Raw 25 was the most-watched show on cable television for Monday night, and the three hours were the top three programs on Monday for the insanely valuable 18-49 demographic. Raw 25 was an unequivocal success for WWE. We can now begin debating whether they could have utilized that bigger audience by giving more attention to the present (or the future), rather than the past.