Although it was first reported by PWInsider.com that the 5/22 edition of WWE Monday Night RAW scored a final 3.7 cable rating, it turns out the show drew a lower 3.6 cable rating. That is a huge drop from the 4.0 rating the week prior and things could get worse next Monday with Memorial Day. It should be noted that ratings for both RAW and SmackDown this past week were down big time, with SmackDown drawing its second lowest rating ever with a 1.9 broadcast rating. While these numbers are a cause for concern, there are valid reasons for drops in both. RAW had to compete with strong May sweeps network competition and the NBA Playoffs, while SmackDown was pre-empted in numerous markets and will again be this Friday. WWE’s new “The Dusty Rhodes Story” DVD is now available and will be shown in July on the WWE Fanatic PPV series starting on July 2.
Although previous reports may have indicated otherwise, it looks like WWE will indeed be bringing Randy Orton back immediately after the conclusion of his current 60 day suspension with the company. Orton is now scheduled to return to the SmackDown brand on June 13 at the TV tapings in Trenton, New Jersey (this is also the same night WWE will be filming the debut episode for the new ECW brand on the Sci Fi Network). Orton was suspended from WWE for 60 days following WrestleMania 22 after his behavior backstage during the weekend of the event in Chicago caused WWE management to make a harsh decision to suspend him after a culmination of incidents prior. The belief was that if WWE suspended Orton as opposed to fining him, it would send him a strong message and that he would hopefully shape up since he has always been in line for a huge push in the company. As always with WWE, plans are subject to change, but June 13 looks to be the date as of now when Orton returns to the SmackDown brand. We will continue to follow this situation as it develops.
According to an article in the Hollywood Reporter, USA Network President Bonnie Hammer said that there will be a high crossover viewership between the Sci Fi Network and WWE Monday Night RAW. “It’s a huge duplication,” Hammer said. “Close to 50 percent who watch ‘RAW’ watch Sci Fi as well.” When asked if the ECW brand fits with the theme of the Sci Fi Network, Hammer noted that the series will be developed to match the sensibility of the channel’s stretching the imagination theme. “It will have a nice little twist that will fit the brand,” said Hammer. The new weekly ECW series debuts on June 13 at 10pm ET.