Any time Raw follows a major WWE pay-per-view event like SummerSlam, the expectation is that the ratings should go up because fans are used to seeing big things happen after one of the most important shows of the year. While SummerSlam may not have been praised as an amazing show by everybody, I think even the harshest critics would agree that the Fatal 4-Way main event match that saw Brock Lesnar retain the Universal Title was fantastic, so at least SummerSlam ended on the right note. I know that when I tuned into Raw I wanted to see what was next for Lesnar (I had a good idea, but I wanted to see it), and I’m sure most fans felt that way, too.
It was a loaded Raw in terms of star power in the brand split era because Brock Lesnar started the show with Paul Heyman and Braun Strowman laid him out with two running Powerslams. At the top of hour two, Raw GM Kurt Angle announced that he brought somebody new to the show as “free agent” John Cena made his return to Raw after a year of being on Smackdown. That led to Cena staring down Roman Reigns in a segment that probably led to Vince McMahon yelling at the fans to cheer them.
This week’s Raw did 3.404 million viewers for the three-hour average, according to Showbuzz Daily. It was the highest number since the April 10 Superstar Shake-up that did 3.420 million viewers. The three hours for Raw did 3.416 million viewers in hour one, 3.581 million viewers in the second hour (the highest of the three hours per usual) and hour three was last with 3.216 million viewers for the main event featuring the Vince McMahon dream team of Roman Reigns and John Cena beating The Miz and Samoa Joe.
Last week’s Raw did 3.223 million viewers, so it was nice bump with nearly 200,000 more viewers tuning in this week. Raw did not win the night in cable TV because there was a Presidential Address (delivered by a WWE Hall of Famer) all over the news, including Fox News outperforming Raw.
There’s also some encouraging news regarding this number compared to last year as well. It was noted by Dave Meltzer at WrestlingObserver.com that last year’s Raw post-SummerSlam did 3.30 million viewers, so the increase is a positive sign.
With the Monday Night NFL Football regular season set to begin on September 11, it’s going to be tough for WWE to keep those numbers up. That’s a big reason why they moved Cena to Raw because they know the NFL’s return will hurt their audience like it does every year. Look for WWE to load up as much as possible in the next two weeks of Raw before the NFL’s return to try to keep their fans tuned in week after week.