The expectation was that ratings for Monday Night Raw would rise this week because fans would tune in to see if CM Punk would make his return or not. However, the opposite took place. WWE saw a 12 percent drop in viewership, which has to be a bit alarming since it is the time period between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania 30.
When Batista made his return on Monday Night Raw, WWE officials were said to be rather upset with the lackluster reaction from the audience. However, management then saw the television ratings for the segment and placed the blame on the Dayton crowd instead.
"It's ridiculous. I hate to sound like I'm attacking the WWE or (I) devalue what they did because Vince McMahon, say whatever you want -- and he's always smashing us and talking s—t about us, but I will tell you this, I was watching WWE I was a little kid and Vince was the commentator in WWE -- this guy has been kicking ass, breaking rules and doing things that people said he couldn't do over and over and over again. Now I'm older I don't get the whole thing, it doesn't work for me, but what he's able to do, the ratings he's able to pull and the things he's done ... And when I look at his model and he's basically taking everything in and devalued it. Saying everything we do is worth $10. That doesn't make sense to me," White said during a media luncheon on Monday. If he pulls in 2 million subscribers, he's crushing it. So it's a risky move, it's a crazy move, but Vince has been doing risky, crazy s—t since the beginning of time. If anybody can do it, maybe Vince can do it."
- UFC president Dana White on Vince McMahon and WWE Network
While there are still people under the belief that this entire thing is a story line, AJ Styles has now been booked for various independent wrestling shows, including a big match against former WWE signee Kassius Ohno in January, from now until March.
"I don't think they give a s--t about (indies) buzz. They only care about their own buzz, which makes sense. You can't solely cater to the niche fan base — it's a tricky demographic to deal with. But you can see somebody get over with those fans and think maybe they can do it in WWE, too. And they see someone who has the passion to chase the dream, traveling around the world. If you have passion, if you're a good performer, those are two of the most important things in wrestling, and they're things you can't manufacture. Some people are naturals. Take Big E Langston; he has such a perfect match of athleticism and charisma, and he looks like an action figure."