Scott, After reading the comment section, I figured this would draw a good full blown discussion. Do you think, looking back, that WWE had an opportunity to create a new boom period after that initial move back to USA back in late 2005? I thought Raw was more interesting than it had been in YEARS up to that point, not to mention the fact that they were drawing big ratings, getting 4.0s on a weekly basis, and people at my school were actually buzzing about WWE for the first time in I could remember. But then of course, around June ’06, they basically squandered their growing success and the ratings fell back in their 3.0 limbo, which amuses me. They say now that an edgy product was hurting ratings, yet when they had an edgy product with Edge (no pun intended) at the helm, they were doing their best ratings since 2001 before they decided to push Cena as the Hogan-like superhero.
It’s true, I was actually enticed into buying Royal Rumble that year to see the Cena-Edge rematch, which sadly proved horribly disappointing and just restored the status quo again. That Wrestlemania proved to be one of the first ones I ever intentionally skipped, though, because I had no interest in seeing Cena v. HHH as a main event and Edge v. Foley didn’t do anything for me as a “star-making” performance for Edge. But yeah, the stuff with Rey Mysterio getting the World title for the first time and Randy Orton exploring his evil side and Edge’s run with Lita, all leading up to Cena v. RVD at One Night Stand? All good stuff. I think that trying to spin off ECW was a major mis-step, for one thing. Had they just called it something else, it might have been less of a disaster, but there was a lot of expectations for what an “ECW” brand would entail, and they disappointed on pretty much every count. Plus it stretched the already struggling writing staff far too thin at a time when they should have been focusing on RAW and Smackdown exclusively. I wouldn’t say it was going to create a new boom period, though.