The fallout continues to hit following the surprise news on Thursday that Paul Heyman has been removed as the executive director of Raw, a role he assumed last summer. Heyman was hired for the role simultaneously with Eric Bischoff last summer, with Bischoff getting the role on SmackDown. Heyman lasted a lot longer than Bischoff, who was removed from his position within a few months, but the news that one of the most respected minds in the wrestling industry (Heyman) was going to be relegated back to just a role as on-screen talent was surprising to say the least. The Raw and SmackDown creative teams are now going to be consolidated under one umbrella, with Bruce Prichard heading up things.
According to a new report from PWInsider, Vince McMahon has been "very upset" and "frustrated" with Monday Night Raw. Both Raw and SmackDown have seen large declines in their television ratings and viewership since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with the company choosing to continue to produce events albeit with no audience.
During a call with investors, McMahon noted that there is a lot of new talent on the Monday night show which need time to get over, attributing some of that to the ratings decline (and perhaps, via that comment, opening a window into his frustration in the process).
"So there's no audience and it's a different show, a completely different show," McMahon said at the time. "And I think we're going to get there. While we may be able to take this negative and already turn it into somewhat of a positive, as far as ratings and what have you are concerned. SmackDown has virtually been no change, very little. RAW has suffered, but not necessarily because of the environment, it's suffered because we bring in a lot of new talent and to RAW, and it takes a while to get these new talents over.
"We no longer have Brock Lesnar obviously, but we have a new champion and a lot of new performers coming in. So it takes a while. So that's the reason, and how you use those performers in this story or that story or what have you. So, with new talent it's just going to take a little while. I'm convinced though, that the RAW's ratings are going to bounce back considerably."
It should be noted that SmackDown's ratings are also down considerably since the start of the pandemic. RAW's viewership was down almost 23 percent in May versus what the show drew in February, while SmackDown's viewership dropped just over 20 percent since February. SmackDown averaged 2.543 million viewers in February and 2.033 million viewers in May.