WWE attempted to pull out all the stops for Monday Night Raw's return to Madison Square Garden on Monday night, loading the card with a 10-man main event, the in-ring return of Rey Mysterio and a special appearance by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Unfortunately none of that was enough to stop Raw's ratings from dropping against the first week of Monday Night Football for the 2019 NFL season.
According to Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer, Raw averaged 2.13 million viewers for Monday night's show, a 15.4% drop from the week before and the second lowest audience of the modern era for a non-holiday show. By comparison, the Texans vs. Saints game drew 13.08 million viewers and the Raiders vs. Broncos gave brought in 10.62 million viewers.
The first hour brought in the highest number of viewers with 2.36 million, which Meltzer attributed to Austin kicking off the show by moderating a contract signing between Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman. AJ Styles and The O.C. interrupted the segment, which eventually led to Austin hitting Styles with a Stunner.
The only episode of Raw with a lower rating in the modern era that didn't take place on Christmas or New Year's was the June 10 episode earlier this year. WWE fought back against their ratings struggles earlier in the year by introducing new ideas like the WWE 24/7 Championship and bringing back stars from the past with the Raw Reunion special (which also featured Austin as a headliner).
Despite the low ratings, Raw continued to build towards a loaded Clash of Champions pay-per-view card on Sunday. Twelve matches have been booked for the show so far, including WWE Universal Champion Rollins vs. Strowman, WWE Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton, Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks and SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair.
Per the gimmick of the show, every main roster championship will be on the line during the show. But the card will also two more bouts in Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan and the finals of the 2019 King of the Ring tournament.