The 19.8 million viewers that tuned in for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards Sunday night was good enough to make it the most watched show for the evening, however it was a severe decline in viewership compared to previous years. One potential factor in that could be the competing Pay-Per-View that WWE was airing at the same time.
The 2018 Royal Rumble is WWE’s opening night of sorts for their new year on the road to their biggest yearly event, WrestleMania. In most years, the Royal Rumble is highly watched by wrestling fans and its popularity is based on its ability to be unpredictable for the viewers. By throwing in the debut of Ronda Rousey, one of the biggest names in MMA history and a cast member in one of the Fast and Furious movies, and you transcend wrestling fandom to the pop culture world.
A factor that non-fans missed in the hysteria of the Rousey debut late Sunday night was the fact that throughout the leadup to the Rumble, Rousey was heavily rumored to debut for the company. But WWE had thrown wrenches into those rumors repeatedly to throw the fans off of the trail. Just mere hours before the event, Rousey had posted pictures and quotes saying that she was in Colombia filming a movie so she would not be at the event. There would be no way that she would be able to get from Colombia to Philly in just a few hours, because of course she is broke and can’t afford a private jet, right?
This course of action to trick fans had not been done by the WWE in years and never at the level they did it with Rousey and her social media reach and having her lie to reporters about it. This was a great move to get even more reaction to her debut. Her secret jet ride to Philly and hidden entrance into the arena was known by only a few people in order to keep it as much of a shock as possible.
Bringing in a cross-platform star such as Rousey has been done to bring national attention to WWE. Since The Rock’s departure for full time Hollywood stardom, the WWE has been missing the big name stars they were producing for years. Brock Lesnar had been the only big-name UFC star they had in their company for years and he brought in plenty of attention himself with his previous UFC success but Rousey not only had success in MMA but on the Olympic stage and in Hollywood.
To go along with her signing, the WWE also announced recently the signing of American Ninja Warrior star alum Kacy Catanzaro. Catanzaro is famous for being the first female to ever qualify for the finals of ANW and first female to complete the course in the City Finals. Adding high level stars such as Rousey and Catanzaro highlights the WWE’s efforts to bring not only national exposure but also their desire to bring the women’s division to a height it has never been able to truly reach. The Women’s Revolution has officially taken off to the next level and it is a great day for all of the fans of the sport.