By Arda Ocal
3:00 AM AKDT, June 11, 2012
Tonight on a three-hour edition of Raw, Vince McMahon returns to WWE TV for the first time since October 2011. This is a very interesting situation for many reasons.
For one, ratings in the United States have taken a dip. Though Nielsen ratings are not a completely accurate measure of performance, it is often used by many as a measuring stick of success. In the past four episodes, Raw has seen this trend:
June 4: 2.92 rating
May 28 (Memorial Day): 2.72 rating
May 21: 3.0 rating
May 14: 2.9 rating
The average rating for Raw in 2012, from the beginning of February to the end of April, in the U.S. is 3.16.
This trend is not new. Here's a look at the past three years:
May 23: 3.4
May 16: 3.09
May 9: 3.18
May 2: 3.45
Average rating in May: 3.2
Average rating from February to April: 3.56In 2010:
Average rating in May: 3.162
Average rating from February to April: 3.43In 2009:
Average rating in May: 3.36
Average rating from February to April: 3.71
What this means is that traditionally there is a decrease in interest in the month of May. The WrestleMania hangover from April is gone, and new, rejuvenated interest becomes necessary.
Enter the month of June.
This has traditionally been a very interesting month for WWE. Some of the biggest storylines have launched on Raw in the sixthmonth of the year. Consider these examples from several years past:
June 27, 2011: CM Punk’s “Pipe Bomb” Rant
One year ago, CM Punk elevated himself to elite main-event status with a promo that excited the WWE Universe and also brought back casual fans that had left the product behind. This also led to likely the match of the year at the Money in the Bank 2011 pay-per-view between Punk and John Cena for the WWE title.
June 7, 2010: Nexus forms, attacks John Cena
The entire cast of NXT: Season 1 band together as a team later to be called the “Nexus,” surround and attack the WWE’s biggest name, tearing apart the ring in the process. The attack even claimed a casualty, as Daniel Bryan was let go by WWE soon after this attack, allegedly due to choking announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie during the segment. On the June 21 edition of Raw, an anonymous GM begins sending instructions to Michael Cole throughout the show.
June 15, 2009: Donald Trump buys Raw
Until the “Once in a Lifetime” match between John Cena and The Rock at WrestleMania 28, the pay-per-view event king for WWE was WrestleMania 23, headlined by the “Battle of the Billionaires” -- Vince McMahon vs. Donald Trump. In June 2009, WWE and Trump worked together again for a brief period of time when McMahon “sold” Raw to the billionaire real0estate mogul, who made appearances on Raw for the storyline. The June 22 edition of Raw -- dubbed “Trump Raw” -- was three hours commercial free. On the June 29 edition, McMahon announced that each week, a “guest host” would control Raw.
June 2, 2008: Vince McMahon announces $1,000,000 giveaway
In a rather interesting move, the Chairman of WWE decided to give a lot of money away live on Raw. Throughout the month, calls were made to winners across America, and on one episode of Raw, Mr. McMahon gave away $500,000 before part of the stage collapsed onto him. The WWE draft also took place on the June 23 edition of Raw that year.
June 11, 2007: Vince McMahon’s limo explodes with him inside
Mr. McMahon, at the lowest point ever seen for the character, walks through the Raw locker room and steps into his limo, which then explodes. This launched the “is Vince McMahon dead?” storyline ,which never got off the ground. The June 11 edition was that year’s WWE draft.
June 12 2006: DX reunites
Shawn Michaels and Triple H meet Vince and Shane McMahon, as well as the Spirit Squad, in a highly anticipated reunion.
June 6, 2005: John Cena gets drafted to Raw, Batista to Smackdown
In what was at the time a surprising move, WWE champion John Cena leaves Smackdown and gets drafted to Raw, while World Heavyweight champion Batista leaves Raw and is drafted to Smackdown.
The 2010, 2009 and 2007 episodes of Raw mentioned above were three-hour shows. Raw tonight is also a three-hour show.
The biggest theme that becomes apparent when looking at all the major events and storylines that have happened in June is that most of them involve Vince McMahon. During the month of June, he has battled DX, had his limo explode, sold Raw to Donald Trump, introduced the anonymous GM, gave away a lot of his money and saw the roots of his live contract negotiations with CM Punk form. Tonight on Raw, he will give a “job performance evaluation” to many, most notably John Laurinaitis.
All things considered – the ratings in May this year and in the past, historical trends, the return of Vince McMahon on a three-hour Raw, it being the month of June and his involvement in big storylines this month – we could see a major storyline launch on Raw tonight.
What could it be? Most of us would prefer something completely unpredictable (major reasons why the Nexus debut and CM Punk’s “pipe bomb” were so effective). Perhaps it’s possible Laurinaitis will be joined by a new GM -- perhaps a WWE legend, or someone absent from a WWE ring for a long time (Wooooooooo...?). Returns are always the sexy option when it comes to surprises.
Regardless of what it is, it’s not outrageous to anticipate some major storyline beginning soon in WWE.